Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management

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Science Advances  07 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaao0167
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao0167

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  • Distinguishing science from “fact by assertion” in natural resource management
    • Kyle A. Artelle, Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University AND Raincoast Conservation Foundation
    • Other Contributors:
      • John D. Reynolds, Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
      • Adrian Treves, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin– Madison
      • Jessica C. Walsh, Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
      • Paul C. Paquet, Raincoast Conservation Foundation AND Department of Geography, University of Victoria
      • Chris T. Darimont, Raincoast Conservation Foundation AND Department of Geography, University of Victoria

    Nichols et al. (1) offer an optimistic counter-perspective to our recent study that assessed the scientific basis of wildlife management in North America (2). We are encouraged to see the discussion on this important topic progressing. We note that their response agrees with most of our findings and conclusions, specifically that most North American hunt management systems could improve, and that the hallmarks framework we provided could help.

    The aim of our publication was to advance dialogue about the role of science in natural resource management, and to provide a repeatable and transparent means to test the veracity of science-based claims and assumptions commonly asserted by agencies. We offered a Hallmarks of Science framework, based on a foundation of four hallmarks: clear objectives, evidence, transparency, and independent review, as a generalizable approach for assessing (and ideally evolving) the scientific basis of any natural resource management system (2).

    Nichols et al.'s letter suggests that migratory waterfowl management systems could make excellent candidates for further study. If their assertions of that system’s scientific basis are substantiated through future systematic assessment, such as the one we provided for species managed by states, provinces, and territories across Canada and the US, this system could offer insight for improving the scientific foundation for other taxa and locations.

    Although the response provided by...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Science Alive and Well in North American Wildlife Management
    • James D. Nichols, Senior Scientist Emeritus, US Geological Survey
    • Other Contributors:
      • Fred A. Johnson, Research Biologist, US Geological Survey
      • Byron K. Williams, Scientist, US Geological Survey
      • G. Scott Boomer, Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service

    Artelle et al. (1) entitled a recent article with the provocative claim: “Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management”. Although we agree with some of the concerns and recommendations of Artelle et al. (1), we believe that the article is misleading about the distinction between science and management, the role of science in wise management, and the degree to which science is used in North American wildlife management. Here we distinguish between science and management, specify an appropriate role of science in management, and document the explicit use of science in at least some programs of North American wildlife management.

    Management is a process by which actions are taken in order to influence a system to meet specified objectives. Management thus requires knowledge, or at least hypotheses, about the influence of available actions on system dynamics and other variables associated with objectives. Science is a process by which humans reduce uncertainty and learn. In the absence of uncertainty about effects of management actions, science may not be needed for effective management (although prior science is the usual reason for absence of uncertainty). In the face of uncertainty, science can play an important role in management by comparing observed system behavior with predictions from competing hypotheses about such behavior.

    Artelle et al. (1) listed four “hallmarks of science relevant to natural resource management”: measur...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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