Environmental Management

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 820–833 | Cite as

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Challenges for Regional Ecosystem Management

  • Heather J. Lynch
  • Stephanie Hodge
  • Christian Albert
  • Molly Dunham


An adaptive management approach is necessary but not sufficient to address the long-term challenges of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Adaptive management, in turn, has its own particular challenges, of which we focus on two: science input, and stakeholder engagement. In order to frame our discussion and subsequent recommendations, we place the current management difficulties into their historical context, with special emphasis on the 1990 Vision document, which attempted a broad synthesis of management goals for the ecosystem. After examining these two key challenges in the context of the GYE, we make several recommendations that would allow for more effective ecosystem management in the long term. First, we recommend adoption of the GYE as a site for long-term science research and monitoring with an emphasis on integrative research, long-term federal funding, and public dissemination of data. Second, we conclude that a clearer prioritization of legislative mandates would allow for more flexible ecosystem management in the GYE, a region where conflicting mandates have historically led to litigation antithetical to effective ecosystem management. Finally, we recommend a renewed attempt at an updated Vision for the Future that engages stakeholders (including local landholders) substantively from the outset.


Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Ecosystem management Adaptive learning Stakeholder engagement Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee 



We would like to thank William Clark and Jody Freeman for their comments and advice, Steve Forrest for his careful review of the manuscript, and Susan Clark, Suzanne Lewis, Bruce Ramsey, Craig Gehrke, and Bruce Babbitt, who allowed us to interview them for this analysis. We would also like to thank the reviewers, all of whom provided insight, excellent references, and a careful review of the manuscript. C. A. acknowledges financial support from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Scholarship as well as the Charles W. Holtzer Scholarship of Harvard University. H. J. L. acknowledges financial support from the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather J. Lynch
    • 1
  • Stephanie Hodge
    • 2
  • Christian Albert
    • 3
  • Molly Dunham
    • 4
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.UNEP/UNDPSt. AnthonyCanada
  3. 3.Institute of Environmental PlanningLeibniz University of HannoverHannoverGermany
  4. 4.Real Estate DepartmentFried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLPNew YorkUSA

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