Integrating Expert Perceptions into Food Web Conservation and Management

Adrian C. Stier, Jameal F. Samhouri, Steven Gray, Rebecca G. Martone, Megan E. Mach, Benjamin S. Halpern, Carrie V. Kappel, Courtney Scarborough, Phillip S. Levin
2016 Conservation Letters  
Decision-makers often rely on expert knowledge, especially in complex and data-poor social-ecological systems (SESs). However, expert knowledge and perceptions of SES structure and function vary; therefore, understanding how these perceptions differ is critical to building knowledge and developing sustainability solutions. Here, we quantify how scientific, local, and traditional knowledge experts vary in their perceptions of food webs centered on Pacific herring-a valuable ecological, economic,
more » ... and cultural resource in Haida Gwaii, BC, Canada. Expert perceptions of the herring food web varied markedly in structure, and a simulated herring recovery with each of these unique mental models demonstrated wide variability in the perceived importance of herring to the surrounding food web. Using this general approach to determine the logical consequences of expert perceptions of SES structure in the context of potential future management actions, decision-makers can work explicitly toward filling knowledge gaps while embracing a diversity of perspectives.
doi:10.1111/conl.12245 fatcat:pywbxj6rwvgj3jpzl2zv5axrwu