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Ecosystems, Adaptive Management

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Ecological Systems

Abstract

Adaptive management is an approach to natural resource management that emphasizes learning through management based upon the philosophy that knowledge is incomplete and much of what is thought to be known is actually wrong, but despite uncertainty, managers and policymakers must act 1. Although the concept of adaptive management has resonated with resource management scientists and practitioners following its formal introduction in 1978 2, it has and continues to remain little practiced and much misunderstood. Misunderstanding is largely based upon the belief that adaptive management is what management has always been, a trial and error attempt to improve management outcomes. But unlike a trial and error approach, adaptive management has explicit structure, including a careful elucidation of goals, identification of alternative management objectives and hypotheses of causation, and procedures for the collection of data followed by evaluation and reiteration.

This chapter was originally published as part of the Encyclopedia of Sustainability Science and Technology edited by Robert A. Meyers. DOI:10.1007/978-1-4419-0851-3

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Abbreviations

Adaptive governance:

Institutional and political frameworks designed to adapt to changing relationships between society and ecosystems, institutional frameworks that enable adaptive management, and the facilitation of learning from adaptive management to policy.

Adaptive management:

A systematic process of natural resource management whereby management actions are treated as experiments to increase learning and improve subsequent management.

Natural resource management:

The management of natural resources including land, water, plants, and animals to meet societal goals, including conservation and exploitation.

Resilience:

The capacity of a system to absorb disturbance without altering states (undergoing a regime shift); a measure of the amount of disturbance a system can tolerate before collapsing.

Structured decision making:

A general term for a framework of analysis of problems to reach decisions based on evidence to meet stated goals.

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Acknowledgments

The Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is jointly supported by a cooperative agreement between the United States Geological Survey, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the University of Nebraska−Lincoln, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Management Institute. Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.

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Correspondence to Craig R. Allen .

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Allen, C.R., Fontaine, J.J., Garmestani, A.S. (2013). Ecosystems, Adaptive Management. In: Leemans, R. (eds) Ecological Systems. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5755-8_8

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