Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 148, Supplement 2, pp 343–349 | Cite as

Adaptive harvest management of North American waterfowl populations: a brief history and future prospects

  • James D. NicholsEmail author
  • Michael C. Runge
  • Fred A. Johnson
  • Byron K. Williams


Since 1995, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has used an adaptive approach to the management of sport harvest of mid-continent Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) in North America. This approach differs from many current approaches to conservation and management in requiring close collaboration between managers and scientists. Key elements of this process are objectives, alternative management actions, models permitting prediction of system responses, and a monitoring program. The iterative process produces optimal management decisions and leads to reduction in uncertainty about response of populations to management. This general approach to management has a number of desirable features and is recommended for use in many other programs of management and conservation.


Adaptive management Conservation Decision theory Harvest management North America 



We thank Stephen Baillie and Fernando Spina for the invitation to present this paper. We thank Franz Bairlein, Peter Becker, and Matthieu Guillemain for constructive comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.


  1. Blohm RJ (1989) Introduction to harvest—understanding surveys and season setting. Proc Int Waterfowl Symp 6:118–133Google Scholar
  2. Elmberg J, Nummi P, Poysa H, Sjoberg K, Gunnarsson G, Clausen P, Guillemain M, Rodrigues D, Vaananen V-M (2006) The scientific basis for new and sustainable management of migratory European ducks. Wildl Biol 12:121–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hauser CE, Runge MC, Cooch EG, Johnson FA, Harvey WF IV (2007) Optimal control of Atlantic population Canada geese. Ecol Modell 201:27–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Johnson FA (2001) Adaptive regulation of waterfowl hunting in the United States. In: Stahl RG Jr, Bachman RA, Barton AL, Clark JR, deFur PL, Ellis SJ, Pittinger CA, Slimak MW, Wentsel RS (eds) Risk management: ecological risk-based decision-making. SETAC Press, Pensacola, pp 113–131Google Scholar
  5. Johnson FA (2006) Adaptive harvest management and double-loop learning. Trans N Am Wildl Nat Resour Conf 71 (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Johnson FA, Case DJ (2000) Adaptive regulation of waterfowl harvests: lessons learned and prospects for the future. Trans N Am Wildl Nat Resour Conf 65:94–108Google Scholar
  7. Johnson FA, Williams BK, Nichols JD, Hines JE, Kendall WL, Smith GW, Caithamer DF (1993) Developing an adaptive management strategy for harvesting waterfowl in North America. Trans N Am Wildl Nat Resour Conf 58:565–583Google Scholar
  8. Johnson FA, Williams BK, Schmidt PR (1996) Adaptive decision-making in waterfowl harvest and habitat management. Proc Int Waterfowl Symp 7:26–33Google Scholar
  9. Johnson FA, Moore CT, Kendall WL, Dubosky JA, Caithamer DF, Kelley JR Jr, Williams BK (1997) Uncertainty and the management of mallard harvests. J Wildl Manage 61:202–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Johnson FA, Kendall WE, Dubovsky JA (2002) Conditions and limitations on learning in the adaptive management of mallard harvests. Wildl Soc Bull 30:176–185Google Scholar
  11. Lee KN (1993) Compass and gyroscope: integrating science and politics for the environment. Island Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  12. Lubow BC (1995) SDP: generalized software for solving stochastic dynamic optimization problems. Wildl Soc Bull 23:738–742Google Scholar
  13. Martin F, Pospahala RS, Nichols JD (1979) Assessment and population management of North American migratory birds. In: Cairns J, Patil GP, Waters WE (eds) Environmental biomonitoring, assessment, prediction, and management certain case studies and related quantitative issues. Statistical ecology, vol Sll. International Co-operative Publishing House, Fairland, pp 187–239Google Scholar
  14. Nichols JD, Johnson FA (1989) Evaluation and experimentation with duck harvest management strategies. Trans N Am Wildl Nat Resour Conf 54:566–593Google Scholar
  15. Nichols JD, Williams BK (2006) Monitoring for conservation. Trends Ecol Evol 21:668–673PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nichols JD, Johnson FA, Williams BK (1995) Managing North American waterfowl in the face of uncertainty. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 26:177–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Runge MC, Johnson FA (2002) The importance of functional form in optimal control solutions of problems in population dynamics. Ecology 83:1357–1371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Runge MC, Johnson FA, Anderson MG, Koneff MD, Reed ET, Mott SE (2006) The need for coherence between waterfowl harvest and habitat management. Wildl Soc Bull 34:1231–1237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Smith GW (1995) A critical review of the aerial and ground surveys of breeding waterfowl in North America. US Department Interior, Biological Science Report 5. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  20. US Department of the Interior and Environment Canada (1986) North American waterfowl management plan. US Department Interior, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  21. US Fish and Wildlife Service (2007) Adaptive harvest management: 2007 hunting season. US Department Interior, Washington, DC (
  22. Williams BK (1996) Adaptive optimization and the harvest of biological populations. Math Biosci 136:1–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Williams BK, Johnson FA (1995) Adaptive management and the regulation of waterfowl harvests. Wildl Soc Bull 23:430–436Google Scholar
  24. Williams BK, Nichols JD, Conroy MJ (2002) Analysis and management of animal populations. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  25. Williams BK, Szaro RC, Shapiro CD (2007) Adaptive management: the US Department of the interior technical guide. Adaptive Management Working Group, US Department of the Interior, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  26. Yoccoz NG, Nichols JD, Boulinier T (2001) Monitoring of biological diversity in space and time. Trends Ecol Evol 16:446–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Nichols
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael C. Runge
    • 1
  • Fred A. Johnson
    • 2
  • Byron K. Williams
    • 3
  1. 1.Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterUS Geological SurveyLaurelUSA
  2. 2.Division of Migratory Bird ManagementUS Fish and Wildlife ServiceGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Cooperative Research UnitsUS Geological SurveyRestonUSA

Personalised recommendations