Adaptive management of large aquatic ecosystem recovery programs in the United States

Document Details:

Title: Adaptive management of large aquatic ecosystem recovery programs in the United States
Category: Academic Article
File: Thom-et-al.-2016_0469_Lessons-learned-on-implementing-watershed-scale-AM-in-USA.pdf
Updated Date: 20.04.2018
Author(s)/Source(s): Ronald Thom, Tom St. Clair, Rebecca Burns, Michael Anderson
Publication Date: 2016
Focal Topic: Adaptive Management
Location: United States

Adaptive management (AM) is being employed in a number of programs in the United States to guide
actions to restore aquatic ecosystems because these programs are both expensive and are faced with
significant uncertainties. Many of these uncertainties are associated with prioritizing when, where, and
what kind of actions are needed to meet the objectives of enhancing ecosystem services and recovering
threatened and endangered species. We interviewed nine large-scale aquatic ecosystem restoration
programs across the United States to document the lessons learned from implementing AM. In addition,
we recorded information on ecological drivers (e.g., endangered fish species) for the program, and
inferred how these drivers reflected more generic ecosystem services. Ecosystem services (e.g., genetic
diversity, cultural heritage), albeit not explicit drivers, were either important to the recovery or
enhancement of the drivers, or were additional benefits associated with actions to recover or enhance
the program drivers. Implementing programs using AM lessons learned has apparently helped achieve
better results regarding enhancing ecosystem services and restoring target species populations. The
interviews yielded several recommendations. The science and AM program must be integrated into how
the overall restoration program operates in order to gain understanding and support, and effectively
inform management decision-making. Governance and decision-making varied based on its particular
circumstances. Open communication within and among agency and stakeholder groups and extensive
vetting lead up to decisions. It was important to have an internal agency staff member to implement the
AM plan, and a clear designation of roles and responsibilities, and long-term commitment of other
involved parties.

Keyword Tags:
Aquatic ecosystem restoration, Ecosystem services, Endangered and threatened species