Relationships between ecological research and environmental management
Underwood, A. J.
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Ecological research offers much to environmental managers, but current interactions between ecologists and managers are not as effective as they might be. This paper summarises four different types of research, which interact in their influences on managerial decisions. First is already available research sought by managers after a problem has been defined and information is needed to help reach a decision about how to solve it. The second type is research done to determine the success or failure of managerial decisions. This would be more effective if there were greater recognition that management consists of manipulative experimental tests of predictions based on models or theories for how to solve a problem. The third type of research is new basic and strategic research to investigate ecological processes to develop new understanding when management has failed and the environmental problem has not been solved. Finally, there is ecological research into the processes of decision-making themselves. This would seek to explain where, how and why decision-making had failed to solve the problem. Ecological inputs are needed into such research to determine how the results of previously available research were used in reaching the failed decisions. By understanding the opportunities provided by and the limitations of different types of ecological research, it may become easier for ecologists to provide more useful science to environmental managers.