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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Undergraduate Education

Introducing Adaptive Management for Natural Resources: An Estuary Case Study


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 44 No. 1, p. 149-158
    Received: Oct 05, 2015
    Accepted: Oct 23, 2015
    Published: December 18, 2015

    * Corresponding author(s): danielle.kloster@uconn.edu
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  1. Lindsay M. Dreissa,
  2. Danielle P. Kloster *a,
  3. Marjorie R. Liberatia,
  4. Janet R. Barclaya,
  5. Jan-Michael Hessenauera,
  6. Lucas R. Nathana,
  7. Kelly M. O’Connora and
  8. Jason C. Vokouna
  1.   aDepartment of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut, 1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4087, Storrs, CT 06269-4087


Adaptive management (AM) is a systematic process for improving environmental management policies and practices in a way that incorporates uncertainty and learning. In the realm of natural resources, AM is increasingly being used by management agencies in the United States (e.g., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service) and non-governmental organizations (e.g., The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund). As such, it is important that students in natural resources, conservation, and environmental management majors become familiar with the concepts of AM. This case study uses the real-world example of the Herring River estuary restoration project (Cape Cod, MA) to demonstrate the theoretical processes involved in adaptively managing an ecosystem governed by ecological uncertainties and a wide range of stakeholders. Through the incorporation of role-play, students gain experience with the AM framework while actively learning about the role of uncertainty and stakeholder perspectives in decision-making. The case was tested with a group of students from an introductory course on environmental conservation to gauge student interest and verify proof of concept. Following the case study, students felt that they would be able to define adaptive management and explain the concept to their classmates, despite no prior exposure to AM.

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