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Forest Faunal Systems

a textbook for wildlife resource management

by Robert H. Giles, Jr., PhD, Professor Emeritus,
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences,
Virginia Tech
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Forest Faunal Systems is a hypertext unit about how to manage the forest wildlife resource. Since writing Wildlife Management in the late 1970's (Giles 1978), I have wrestled with condensing knowledge about one aspect of that entire activity. There is a mass of knowledge, richness of forest types, array of techniques, and mixture of objectives that makes the task very difficult. Principles or concepts are needed so that each unique situation can be reasonably approached. Though knowledge of animals is important, how to manage the total system is my first concern. It is something that must be done and done well, soon, by people. Management requires more than facts and procedures, case histories, and problems. It requires an active, dynamic total force applied by humans to land, for humans.

I have said to my students that if I cannot detect any significant difference in a wildlife resource system after their management, then I surely do not intend to pay them, either as taxpayer or as client. Wildlife or wild faunal resource management can and needs to make a significant difference; if it does not, then it has not occurred; it is a figment of someone's imagination. Assuring significant, desired change in human benefits from the resource is the purpose of this book.

This is a book for landowners and citizens, as well as for students who need to know what they can expect from a manager. It is a book for managers who want to know what to do to take control over a system, and for students who, beguiled by TV and current practitioners, have not the foggiest notion of what the forest wildlife resource manager is ... or, more importantly, desperately needs to become. I have done enough computer analyses to know that one best solution can be calculated for a situation and usually I realize how far action in the field is from that condition. I hope I can help others see the distance that we must go. I fear that unless the distance is seen clearly, managers will not begin to close the gap. Radically different behavior than much of that which is now seen at is needed.

Years ago a c-clamp used to be hung over bear traps to allow anyone caught in one to be able (imagine!) to free themselves. This book is a c-clamp for forest wildlife resource management. The field is held tightly by Leopoldisms, by U.S. Forest Service policy, by state forest agency policy, and by a by-gone economic age. It faces international interest in forest land, a large population of urban folk devoid of even a hint of the meaning and realities of plant and animal production, and a group of land owners squinting in the glare of increasing land value and fluctuating forest tax laws. The c-clamp is an analogy for a means of release, through the pain, to achieve a new era in management of faunal resources.

The prevalence and power of certain agencies makes this text, at times, seem overly critical and even personal. We all are limited; there is room for a lot of kindliness, forgiveness, and then responsible change. Unless change occurs, perhaps small wars may be needed because the faunal resource is too important to too many people over too many centuries to allow personal errors or stubbornness to prevail.

Forest faunal system management is extremely demanding. I know of nowhere that it is practiced well, thus the rationalization is prevalent that it is an "art." Readers can imagine scores being given to a person's effectiveness in making professional decisions and taking action. The manager's score (perhaps 63) does not deny management, only the manager's expertise. He or she does not deserve to be excused on the basis of artistry!

The demands for the forest faunal resource manager are unlimited. Some texts list courses or topics needed to be able to handle the subject matter. In this book, the answer to what are the needs is: everything. The practical answer is: as many advanced educational activities as possible. A few such activities can become the challenge for things needed to be learned. The needs appear to be: (1) to build brick by brick of knowledge until the structure is seen, or (2) to sketch the structure and learn of the bricks that are then needed to be selected and used. The metaphor of the bricks represents two debated, educational strategies. This educational unit can serve either well. (Increasingly I favor Option 2, because making the sketch is like establishing objectives.) All needed knowledge cannot be learned in a 4-to-9-year-long advanced educational program. Motivation and a learning attitude seem essential for professional vitality in this complex, rotund endeavor.

The planned inclusion of over 300 computer programs with the text has presented many difficult decisions. Whole, large, integrated programs are needed to improve decisions out in the forest. Each area is unique, so large unique programs are needed for each area. Thus, it is impossible to present hundreds of such programs. Many past programming efforts have foundered on their lack of transportability (general usefulness). I have made the small programs that are accessible within the site for educational use and for use as modules, subsystems for constructing the larger systems. Hardware has changed rapidly; software has become available; new languages and the internet itself have emerged while the book was being written. Anticipating the wide needs of, and hardware possessed by readers, has been perplexing. Anticipating who might be the average reviewer of text and programs has been stultifying. Creating a reasonably priced and protected set of programs has been a contest. My personal objective of having the ideas understood and used through people using the programs was at odds with a desire not to lose authorship of the programs or reasonable reward for the work of developing them. Time has flown, the contest lost. The related programs as well at the book are now offered freely only via the Web and for unlimited use. Occasional acknowledgments will be appreciated.

Following editing the Wildlife Society's Techniques Manual and writing the textbook Wildlife Management in 1978, I began work on Forest Faunal Systems. Many years later a 1600 page manuscript was ready. Various reviewers found faults, publishers saw a scant market, another wanted to reduce the size of the book, and my retirement loomed. I retired in 1998. Rather than pursue publication and a text that would be years out of date (and maybe out of phase with parts of society), I put the text on this web site in 1998 and have added to and revised it since then. Readers are invited to comment on the book or its parts. I believe many other texts will use this medium.

Much of this book and programs has been used by students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Their comments for improvements have been very helpful. Most of it with its programs was written on weekends and evenings. Some was written on a brief sabbatical. I appreciate the opportunity to work on it part-time afforded by the University. I also appreciate the support and patience of my wife, Mary Wilson Burnette Giles. The secretarial work of Mrs. Lorrain Blackert and Mrs. Laurie Good has been of high quality and very much appreciated.

(R.H. Giles, 1996 with ongoing revisions)

The Table of Contents as well as Literature Cited are available.

A brief introduction to the author is also available.

Other Resources:
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This Web site is maintained by R. H. Giles, Jr.
Last revision May 26, 2001.