Document Type

Article

Publication Title

PNAS

Publisher

National Academy of Sciences

Publication Date

7-2014

Publisher location

Washington, DC, USA

First Page

11002

Last Page

11006

Issue Number

30

Volume Number

111

Abstract/ Summary

Vernal pools are far more important for providing ecosystem services than one would predict based on their small size. However, prevailing resource-management strategies are not effectively conserving pools and other small natural features on private lands. Solutions are complicated by tensions between private property and societal rights, uncertainties over resource location and function, diverse stakeholders, and fragmented regulatory authority. The development and testing of new conservation approaches that link scientific knowledge, stakeholder decision-making, and conservation outcomes are important responses to this conservation dilemma. Drawing from a 15-y history of vernal pool conservation efforts in Maine, we describe the coevolution of pool conservation and research approaches, focusing on how research-based knowledge was produced and used in support of management decisions. As management shifted from reactive, top-down approaches to proactive and flexible approaches, research shifted from an ecology-focused program to an interdisciplinary program based on social-ecological systems. The most effective strategies for linking scientific knowledge with action changed as the decision-makers, knowledge needs, and context for vernal pool management advanced. Interactions among stakeholders increased the extent to which knowledge was coproduced and shifted the objective of stakeholder engagement from outreach to research collaboration and development of innovative conservation approaches. New conservation strategies were possible because of the flexible, solutions-oriented collaborations and trust between scientists and decision-makers (fostered over 15 y) and interdisciplinary, engaged research. Solutions to the dilemma of conserving small natural features on private lands, and analogous sustainability science challenges, will benefit from repeated negotiations of the science-policy boundary.

Publisher Statement

© 2014 National Academy of Sciences.

DOI

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1323606111

Version

publisher's version of the published document

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