Environmental Management

, Volume 59, Issue 2, pp 218–229 | Cite as

Adaptive Management as an Effective Strategy: Interdisciplinary Perceptions for Natural Resources Management

  • Lindsay M. Dreiss
  • Jan-Michael Hessenauer
  • Lucas R. Nathan
  • Kelly M. O’Connor
  • Marjorie R. Liberati
  • Danielle P. Kloster
  • Janet R. Barclay
  • Jason C. Vokoun
  • Anita T. Morzillo


Adaptive management is a well-established approach to managing natural resources, but there is little evidence demonstrating effectiveness of adaptive management over traditional management techniques. Peer-reviewed literature attempts to draw conclusions about adaptive management effectiveness using social perceptions, but those studies are largely restricted to employees of US federal organizations. To gain a more comprehensive insight into perceived adaptive management effectiveness, this study aimed to broaden the suite of disciplines, professional affiliations, and geographic backgrounds represented by both practitioners and scholars. A questionnaire contained a series of questions concerning factors that lead to or inhibit effective management, followed by another set of questions focused on adaptive management. Using a continuum representing strategies of both adaptive management and traditional management, respondents selected those strategies that they perceived as being effective. Overall, characteristics (i.e., strategies, stakeholders, and barriers) identified by respondents as contributing to effective management closely aligned with adaptive management. Responses were correlated to the type of adaptive management experience rather than an individual’s discipline, occupational, or regional affiliation. In particular, perceptions of characteristics contributing to adaptive management effectiveness varied between respondents who identified as adaptive management scholars (i.e., no implementation experience) and adaptive management practitioners. Together, these results supported two concepts that make adaptive management effective: practitioners emphasized adaptive management’s value as a long-term approach and scholars noted the importance of stakeholder involvement. Even so, more communication between practitioners and scholars regarding adaptive management effectiveness could promote interdisciplinary learning and problem solving for improved resources management.


Adaptive management Effective Perceptions Stakeholders Barriers Interdisciplinary 



This study was developed based on discussions during a graduate colloquium on adaptive management. The authors would like to thank the natural resources professionals who voluntarily participated in our survey. D. Kloster, M. Liberati, and J. Barclay were supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2014-38420-21802 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

267_2016_785_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary Appendix
267_2016_785_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lindsay M. Dreiss
    • 1
  • Jan-Michael Hessenauer
    • 1
  • Lucas R. Nathan
    • 1
  • Kelly M. O’Connor
    • 1
  • Marjorie R. Liberati
    • 1
  • Danielle P. Kloster
    • 1
  • Janet R. Barclay
    • 1
  • Jason C. Vokoun
    • 1
  • Anita T. Morzillo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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