Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Integration of social and ecological sciences for natural resource decision making: Challenges and opportunities

February 9, 2019

The last 25 years have witnessed growing recognition that natural resource management decisions depend as much on understanding humans and their social interactions as on understanding the interactions between non-human organisms and their environment. Decision science provides a framework for integrating ecological and social factors into a decision, but challenges to integration remain. The decision-analytic framework elicits values and preferences to help articulate objectives, and then evaluates the outcomes of alternative management actions to achieve these objectives. Integrating social science into these steps can be hindered by failing to include social scientists as more than stakeholder-process facilitators, assuming that specific decision-analytic skills are commonplace for social scientists, misperceptions of social data as inherently qualitative, timescale mismatches for iterating through decision analysis and collecting relevant social data, difficulties in predicting human behavior, and failures of institutions to recognize the importance of this integration. We engage these challenges, and suggest solutions to them, helping move forward the integration of social and biological/ecological knowledge and considerations in decision-making.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Integration of social and ecological sciences for natural resource decision making: Challenges and opportunities
DOI 10.1007/s00267-019-01141-2
Authors Angela K. Fuller, Kelly F. Robinson, Richard C. Stedman, William F. Siemer, Daniel J. Decker
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Management
Series Number
Index ID 70206845
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown

Related Content