I began my career as a plant ecologist. I was worried about extinction, and I became a conservation biologist. There comes a point where in thinking about the impact you are having one might encounter the uneasy feeling that the work is not having an impact. Coming to that conclusion, I became a conservation scientist. This may all sound the same, but actually represents a dramatic shift. The essence of this shift is that I began my career being motivated by interesting science questions having to do with nature. As a conservation biologist, I was motivated by interesting questions about that subset of nature over which we have conservation concern. As a conservation scientist, I am much more interested in people. How is nature managed by natural resource managers and conservation practitioners, what motivates people to make the decisions they do, what constrains the making of decisions that would lead to better conservation outcomes? I am motivated by the scientific questions that constrain our capacity to manage nature toward sustainability. Wearing that hat, I am interested in the knowledge – implementation gap and how we can be better, as a scientific community, in addressing the information needs of the resource management community.
What that means, form a practical standpoint, is that I have several research foci. These are:
- Conservation decision support
- Conservation evaluation and assessment
- Assessing climate change vulnerability for natural resources
- Establishing policy for emerging conservation strategies such as assisted migration (mostly in the form of constraining unsanctioned private action)
- Fire management in the western US and creating resilient forested ecosystems
- Building social capital for conservation