Resolving the Cross-Currents in Modern Wild Animal Resource Management
Author: Robert H. Giles, Jr., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 USA, email: RHGiles@RuralSystem.com
Abstract: Fourteen "cross-currents " of conflicting theory and principle within the arena of large wild animal resource management are discussed and the author's argument given for a preferred option. Resolving these differences will reduce confusion and improve communication of Rural System recommendations and land use prescriptions.
I wrote this unit on the Web to make many aspects of the complex arena of faunal system management simple for you. I would like to make the entire arena simple, but it is not simple, it is changing, and some parts are strongly contested. I was recently in a car crash and I did not want my doctor to treat my problems as if they were simple, or to treat them simply.
There are debates about whether "wildlife management " (properly faunal system management) can be called a field, a profession, a school of thought, an area of work, a unit of ecology, or something else. That decision is a mere ripple in a flood of other necessary decisions for those employed, schools and their students using the words, and related agencies. There are competitive organizations that have formed that dissipate the funds, interests, and enthusiasm for the work that is needed. Those dis-economies can be ignored as long as the objectives of the competitors are the same -- improved management of the faunal resource called "wildlife." I fear that they are not, but I have no time (or are others likely to have any) to probe into that darkness which is also changing.
Having observed and participated in the arena for 30 years, I am well aware of claims that it began with the first textbook on Game Management by Leopold in 1933. He cited evidence of earlier work, and others in the western states and elsewhere were already "practicing". Leaders in India over a century ago were clearly involved in more than raising captive animals for sport. I care little where it started or with whom, but I do care about what I perceive to be slow progress, failure to develop a coherent or unifying theory, and now stagnation with internal conflicts and unregulated growth with few standards for things known or accepted as workable truths. The arena is diminished by nay-sayers who use animals only as means to stop or delay land use changes. Some claim my attitude is one in which "the glass is half empty".; A faulty claim. I believe I see what can be a very full glass that is only moist within.
We have been slow over 40 observed years to use computers, to embrace international problems, to support and develop geographic information systems, to form cooperative multi-state efforts, to include law enforcement in integrated programs or work, to cooperate with adjacent-state faunal agencies, to engage in vertebrate damage management, to include wild plants as part of the wild "life" being managed, or to engage in economic analyses of the faunal resource and its costs of production. Clearly some of these have been done, but they are conspicuous as "singles." I believe this can, and in my view, must change and at a rapid rate. That is one reason for this unit.
I attended a respected "wildlife lecture" given to a group of diverse resource managers a bare 5 years ago. I heard content that was 30 years old, presented to professionals as if to school children, and it was without a hint of practicality. Learning words was the objective as if the words might feed, protect, restore or house animals or increase their productivity ... or their value to people. At every break in the lecture I noted a possible alternative. Later I termed these cross currents for there were evident conflicts and overlaps. Counter-claims existed for many of them. People within the natural resource, wildland, and wildlife management arena needed to know not the simplicity, but the complexity, of the decisions necessary and the grave consequences of poor decisions. They needed to fear the decision, not assume it easily made by anyone who has seen an animal. I grow weary, almost ill, when people paid as wildlife managers only act as if they were youth-program leaders, as if they were appearing on week-end TV programs as the recreating elite, or as unengaged "eunuchs in the harem."
Cross Currents is a little unit with "an attitude". I've tried to cite major sources of ideas and materials and I beg forgiveness for omissions. I have read and attended conferences and seminars and all sources are unknown and ideas have perplexing sources. Throughout there are supportive units such as the glossary. The unit is best read as a hypertext, jumping around, link to link. This is not a unit about all wildlife management. I attempted that before (Giles 1972 and 1988) and now it is time for distilling observations and attempting to describe the grounds of a few of the things that I now know and what I think is a powerful new way to look at and work with the wildlife resource, i.e., within an entrepreneurial system. I am hopeful that the content will cause some lectures to be changed, some thoughts to be sparked, and alternative ways of engaging in managing the wild faunal resource to emerge. They can, you know. They need to be.
I'll try to be responsive to suggestions and I am eager to gain related ideas. There is probably room for listing many more Cross Currents. I hope that you will write them and make them available on the Web. I doubt if I have time left. I believe that people of the world, dependent upon the resource (which depends upon you or both of us) for management, needs more resolution and direction for these managerial currents.
The brief form of the contesting concepts (elaborated below) are:
1. Animal Abundance vs Benefits - Animals are a resource and that implies that they may have benefits (of many types) to people, and that greater abundance is not the only way to greater benefits. See the figure. We must re-connect with economic fundamentals, define "resource " in acceptable ways, and concentrate on the many actions that can be taken to increase benefits from the resource (only loosely related to animal abundance and equal at a in the figure).
2. Efficiency vs Effectiveness - We can become very efficient at tasks, but if these are the wrong tasks, if they do not achieve stated objectives, then they can be very ineffective. Effectiveness if being efficient at achieving stated objectives.
3. Open or Closed Systems - The manager is directly concerned about the area or volume within some well-drawn lines but he or she must also be aware of and work with the outside conditions and processes. Multi-county and multi-state regions are suggested. Migratory animals pose a special problem for the manager having new accountability.
4. Watersheds or Alpha Units - The alpha unit is a 10 x 10-meter pixel in a satellite image. We now have abundant information about every such unit in the state. We no longer need to aggregate data about land into watersheds.
5. Fauna vs Ecosystems - Answers to a set of questions are needed before the phrase ecosystem management is discarded or evolves to the next phrase. Be assured some new phrase is coming! Perhaps we may strive for sophisticated faunal resource system management in the context of rural system management
6. Edge Lines vs Volumes - Edges are volumes, tunnel-like spaces with length, width at right angles in both directions from the line, and two heights of the vegetation to both sides. The edge volume changes over time. If vertical edge is "good " for some species, then lateral edge should also be good for some animal species. New analyses of faunal areas will include the sum of these lateral edge volumes for they will express the life spaces of many arthropods and thus the bats, birds, and other animals that feed within them.
7. Species vs Life Groups - A life group is all animals of a species with a particular managerial need such as feeding or breeding. "Managing turkeys " is a silly over-generalization because the turkey poult is an insectivore, the subadult a granivore, and the adult is an omnivore. At least there are two distinctively different animals with very different needs for distinctive periods. The poult is more different that the adult, a difference greater than that in taxonomic genera! The faunal life group needs to become the new target of management, replacing the species, withdrawing from new species aggregations (typically formed of dissimilar species).
8. Habitat vs Faunal Space - Faunal space is the multi-dimensional space to be managed. Major differences are that it needs to include other animals as habitat (as a deer in the center of a herd; a bird in a flock) and the time dimension.
9. Injury vs Damage - Managers need to make discriminating analyses: Are there real costs or losses? Action may then center on reducing or eliminating vertebrate faunal damage cost effectively. The animals may still be present; the change is in the effects.
10. Managers vs Clients - There is a need for strong leadership to clarify objectives, to isolate differences in units of demand, values, risks, and substitutions and costs. There are parallel needs to clarify uses of and opportunities on private and public lands. The public is ignorant of the differences and their uses and responsibilities to the owners. It is time for the Magna Carta to be re-examined and adjustments made in land ownership rights and responsibilities for animals produced on certain lands. It is past time to deal with special-purpose federal tax support of animal management on private and state lands and to deal with its implications (a national hunting license? or cessation of such spending?).
There are clients and managers. The client may be the general public or the landowner, etc. The professional faunal system manager works for clients under contract. Depending on the legal agreements, the manager serves the client to his or her best ability. The client states objectives; the manager achieves them cost effectively. If the manager does not agree with the objective, then there may be periods for education and change or disaffiliation. It seem ethically unacceptable to take pay to work at odds with the client's objectives (for longer than a reasonable educational period). It is similarly unacceptable to violate state or federal laws related to animals. The manager views these laws and regulations as the fixed or "given " conditions of employment not necessarily stipulated by the client.
11. Solution vs Continuance -The work of the manager was once said to be like that of the medical doctor. It may be more like nursing in a place for the mentally ill. The primary work is not curative but trying to prevent the patients from hurting each other. There are no cures. There is only adaptive work to be done
12. Sequential vs Simultaneous Action - Sequence is more influential than most of the individual well-measured factors themselves (usually described in classical regression analyses). Sequence of rain and seed fall; fire and emergence; freezing and runoff are all examples of influential sequences. I think we have to use the simultaneous strategy more often; there is not enough time to do otherwise.
13. Curve Fitting vs Theory-building - I now know that that curve-fitting was insufficient for a viable profession, a knowledge base to do sophisticated wild faunal resource management. To build that base, we must build theory.
14. Agency vs Enterprise- Enterprise-based wildlife resource management must be studied as a viable option. It is a major cross-current and when implemented will use the power intrinsic to the other currents for its enhancement, growth, and competition. The wild faunal resource will be the better for it.
From the perspective of over 50 years in "wildlife work" the conflicts need immediate tentative resolution.Options suggested by the author seem important for future managers and for the resource.
I have often tried to build a case, point by point, and then to draw a conclusion. Today I use an alternative. The points are that:
Cross-currents are areas of conflicting opinion and unresolved standards of practice and performance. I have discussed many at length in my web site, www.RuralSystem.com, now housed by the Conservation Management Institute. I want to discuss several very important ones here. Some are old and you may no longer see or feel a conflict. It may be that you or your agency have resolved some of them, but in total, the evidence before me is that we are in a professional maelstrom, and we had better work hard, immediately, to redefine and change ourselves and to prepare for our near-future. Knowing about the conflicts may be "interesting," but doing something about them will be difficult. I have genuine fear that nothing will be done and that current whines are the introductory cords of a death march of that activity once called "wildlife management."
We've started out in trouble, ill defined. The chief agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service, had a name contorted by a politician with budgetary zeal. He separated fish from wildlife. Then we've knelt before "biology" (instead of ecology), and have not found a way to include plants as "life," a part of the wild. When we try, we encounter the big plants, the trees, and found another domain, forestry, have them well under their control. We now depend on grasslands and riparian areas for sage grouse and birds and find the range managers have had that covered. A new sect, "conservation biology" has slipped from the "church," and, still without a definition and functionless, it too competes for places in the university and funds from tax pools. We persist in not defining ourselves but, when we do, we use phrases like "science and art," unaware that we are neither and never will be.
Science is not all-good. Several recent events and books make that clear. Being scientific is a relic of the Sputnik-generation when science was very acceptable and the pathway to gaining budget increases. Everyone in the universities wanted to be scientific and to be in national favor and to be favored by funds. Now that has changed. Neither the funds nor the favor are available. Cyclic behavior of social and economic systems remains a surprise, even to those of us who study wild lemmings and wild hares.
Faunal system management means making decisions and taking actions to manipulate the structure, dynamics, and relations of wild animal populations, faunal space, and human groups to achieve human objectives, cost effectively, by means of the wild faunal resource. If not that, then anything else is wildlife management. It may be zoo keeping, ecological research, park management, nature study, animal husbandry ... but not wildlife management. When something is "everything," then it becomes nothing. There has to be a way to discriminate, to differentiate. If there is no need, then the thing does not exist. It is mere energy and matter in the diffuse cosmos.
But maybe times have changed. Maybe a clear definition is meaningless, for the thing defined no longer exists ... or should not exist. Because we are brought-up with concepts of evolution and succession, there is no principle that requires all disciplines to have gradual transition periods. There can be extinction! There can be innovation. The past is not required to be prelude. I believe we have to achieve an identity. "Like-the-past" may be an identity for a few of us but it will not suffice for the young. They do not understand or care about the new ground laid for them, as if by a pine forest for the new hardwood forest. That identity must reflect how we have resolved major cross-currents. Their resolution will create a new, multi-faceted n-dimensional space. It may have an alternative name but it will deal in sophisticated faunal resource management.
Let us examine 14 major domains of potential conflict and controversy that need work, at least partial resolution, for the new faunal system resource manager.
Cross-Current 1. Animal Abundance vs Benefits
We must first decide "what animals?" We cannot master all animals, even a small subset. We must limit ourselves to large terrestrial vertebrates. We need to work hard to encourage and support a "faunal support base," experts in fishery, mollusks, crustaceans, and ... yes, insects. We may "like butterflies," but mastering all of the lepidopteran species, their life histories, and their specific needs opens needs and responsibilities that can never be met. Asserting that they can be met and mastered is little more than naive hope and generates an image not needed for workers responsible for the direct control of over 100 large species of animals on every area of Virginia (or any other large area of the world). We need to work within the vastness of the total environment, encourage experts, but we need to define ourselves narrowly and demonstrate our competence at doing just that.
We were once taught about and the table spread before us for "Renaissance Man." Now that beautiful concept is sexist as well as limited, un-tethered in the swirl of Internet information, satellite images, and nano-scale technology.
In the past, we had objectives of increasing animal abundance. There have been some successes, but the costs have not been evaluated. We have not managed species systems, thus have ignored feedback, and now we have species with too great abundance, some with too little, and others about which we claim we are managers and we do not yet have an estimate of the abundance. We have forgotten that the animals are a resource and that that implies that they may have benefits (of many types) to people, and that greater abundance is not the only way to greater benefits. See Fig. 1. We must re-connect with economic fundamentals, define "resource" in acceptable ways, and concentrate on the many actions that can be taken to increase benefits (only loosely related to animal abundance).
Cross-Current 2. Efficiency vs Effectiveness
My parents took me "Sunday driving." I hated it. We meandered. There was no destination. The objective was to drive. We badly need objectives formulated as suggested in my e-book, Forest Faunal Systems, Chapter 4. We can become very efficient at tasks but if these are the wrong tasks, if they do not achieve stated objectives, then they can be very ineffective. Effectiveness if being efficient at achieving stated objectives. Note: One company became very efficient at producing buggy whips. The objective changed.
Cross-Current 3. Open or Closed Systems
Wildlife areas are open systems. Boundaries may be drawn but water, energy, and other forces ignore the boundaries. The manager is directly concerned about the area or volume within some well-drawn lines but he or she must also be aware of and work with the outside conditions and processes.
Every county should be considered the center of a group of contiguous counties for its surround affects each. (Deer harvest within such mini-regions would be an evident, easily-performed analysis). In just such a fashion, it is becoming increasingly important to include contiguous out-of-state counties in each such mini-region. These county boundary lines need to be ignored (as done by animals, air, and water) and GIS images developed for each county-at-the-center. Some day the same will be done for each state - Virginia-at-the-center for example. The faunal resource will be the better for it if done nationally (otherwise the cost of doing it 48 times will be silly.)
I stood at a large lake in Nigeria and was told about the flocks there of over-wintering Europe's birds. Then I was told of the realization that these were Nigeria's birds that flew north to Europe! It was a moment of special clarity. They were no one's birds; we need to think of "our" animals, only if we are citizens of the world.
I suggested to one agency employee that he not allow the abundance of migrants to be included in his managerial objectives for the birds of his assigned area. Those birds are not under his control. His system (along with salary advances and promotions) could fail even if he had made great investments and perceptive efforts. Regional and international efforts are needed. Not to be so engaged makes us look silly, at best narrow-minded and self-serving. Our animals are residents and migrants. There must be communicated distinctive strategic differences in their management.
I pondered: what if we in the US were 100% effective in wildlife management (however that work may be defined for the moment)? We would yet have the rest of the world with major needs for the power of such management. Limiting ourselves to large terrestrial fauna yet leaves a task so enormous as to be incomprehensible.
Cross-Current 4. Watersheds or Alpha Units
The only reason that we use watersheds as a managerial unit is that we can map them readily and they are useful for analyzing rainfall, runoff, and streamflow. In the drawer labeled "watershed" are free data collected by others and that may be of some use for the wildlife person. Water is not what we need. Watersheds are passe´ for land analyses and management. Once good, they need to be replaced with the alpha unit. The alpha unit is a 10 x 10-meter pixel in a satellite image. We now have abundant information about every such unit in the state. We no longer need to aggregate data about land into watersheds. The right-hand slope in a typical watershed is different from the left-hand slope! We know slope and aspect, temperature and elevations, ponds and viewscapes and ... much more about every alpha unit. We no longer need to sample; we have the population for the state! It is time that we create new maps, things to help us make decisions, estimates and predictions of things using data in these units.
Cross-Current 5. Fauna vs Ecosystems
Ecosystem management is the phrase that has evolved from multiple-use, then to new forestry, then to new perspectives. It, like "conservation biology," is a phrase without meaning, touted by those who profess scientific precision and taxonomic distinctiveness. It is a bad phrase, for it is too limited. It over-emphasizes the bio-geo-physical world while omitting all together the economic, energetic, esthetic, educational, social and enforcement dimensions essential to total resource system management so badly needed now and for the future.
Of course we work with animal populations but we, long ago, Shakespeare onward, learned of the interdependence of body organs, animal and plant species and their exterior worlds. We manage animal populations but we work with plants (even though we do not include adequate botany or agronomy in our education). We work with populations but devote inordinate time and financial resources to individual animals. We speak of mammals but ignore the marine mammals. We carelessly draw lines between motile plants and quiescent animals. We devote one out of 30 chapters in ecology textbooks to human effects and to gains from natural and well-functioning semi-natural communities ... and then insist that "ecosystems" also be well understood to include people. We plant grains for our quail but do nothing to increase minnows or mollusks for our kingfishers or mink. We cannot assert that our practices are producing the most insects for our game bird broods. We do not have a single model of an ecosystem that we can use to analyze effects of our past actions or predict future consequences. Someday, someone, one of the scientists who asserts that they only work from evidence, will ask for the evidence that we can and do manage whole ecosystems. The philosopher will suggest epistemology and demand "how will you know?" What are the criteria for doing it? Doing it well? Perhaps we should decide answers to these questions before this phrase "ecosystem management" is discarded and evolves to or is replaced by the next phrase. Some new phrase is coming! Be assured! Perhaps we can show the relevance of sophisticated faunal resource system management.
Cross-Current 6. Edge Lines vs Volumes
Edges can be seen as lines on a map, e.g., the place where fields join forests. "Edge effect" is so improperly used that it is now meaningless and needs to be discarded. For some few species, edges are beneficial. Edges are volumes, tunnel-like spaces with length, width at right angles in both directions from the line, and two heights of the vegetation to both sides. The edge volume changes over time. The volume is likely to be better correlated with abundance of a species than the length of the line. A qualitative index can be included since equal volumes will not be of equal value to a species. That index also changes over time.
Just as there is a thin imaginary volume between forest and field, there is a flat, thin volume between layers of the forest. If vertical edge is "good" for some species, then lateral edge should also be good for some animal species. New analyses of faunal areas will include the sum of these lateral edge volumes for they will express the life spaces of many arthropods and thus the bats, birds, and other animals that feed within them.
Cross-Current 7. Species vs Life Group
Some people say that we cannot engage in species-specific management. There are various reasons but "there are too many of them" is the one most frequently given. This ignores or discounts the power of the computer. People have tried to find alternative managerial groups such as guilds or indicator species but all have failed and created new problems during their failure.
It is now possible, with computer aids, to do life group management. A life group is all animals of a species with a particular managerial need such as feeding or breeding. "Managing turkeys" is a silly over-generalization because the turkey poult is an insectivore, the subadult a granivore, and the adult is an omnivore. At least there are two distinctively different animals with very different needs for distinctive periods. The poult is more different that the adult, a difference greater than that in taxonomic genera! A pregnant doe has far different water and forage requirements than other deer. Life groups may be age classes but they need to be analyzed based on size, behavior, conspicuousness, and other characteristics. These are characteristics of need that can be met by the average thoughtful manager, not taxonomic groupings (but many taxonomic-only groups will suffice until we learn more).
Stabilizing the function of the environment to meet these needs during specified times is the role of the manager. It is readily done by well-scheduled faunal space manipulation among alpha units using computer scheduling for desired faunal space transitions. The faunal life group needs to become the new target of management, replacing the species, withdrawing from new species aggregations (typically formed of dissimilar species).
Cross-Current 8. Habitat vs Faunal Space
Slogans like "provide food and cover" or "manage habitat" need to be replaced (at least among people involved deeply in wild faunal resource system management) with "control faunal space." The places inhabited by a life group have many dimensions such as latitude, longitude, elevation, slope, aspect, cover type, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, stem density ... and others. There is n number of such dimensions. This can be described as an n-dimensional space and it typically includes (at least in ecology classes discussing ecological niche) the abiotic factors of the environment and the associated species, especially predators and competitors.
A major difference is that a faunal space concept needs to include other animals as habitat (as a deer in the center of a herd; a bird in a flock; a snake in a winter woodchuck den). Other animals are not "habitat" (by any conventional use) but they are likely to be a significant part of the long-term success of any life group. Faunal space is the n-dimensional faunal hypervolume that must be managed for faunal life groups. You cannot see it, but one of its dimensions is always time.
Cross-Current 9. Injury vs Damage
Because human benefits have been closely correlated with animal increases (such as with game animals), we have a language that equates reducing crop or livestock losses with reducing wild animal populations. As we learn about resources and benefits, Cross-Current 1, we see that we can change benefits without killing or removing animals. Injury is physical loss (e.g., beaver tooth-marks on a tree) but damage is monetary or other value loss (e.g., reduced apple production or tree beauty resulting from the beaver's action). Some injury can be tolerated. Many people tolerate much wild animal injury. When injury becomes intolerable, when action must be taken, when losses and costs go past the limit of the client or average citizens, then there is damage. The manager's objective needs to be centered on first making the discriminating analysis: Are there real costs or losses? The next phase is in reducing or eliminating vertebrate faunal damage cost effectively. The animals may still be present. The desired change is in the perceived effect of the animals.
Cross-Current 10. Managers vs Clients
In my early career, I had the attitude that I knew, based on my education and degrees, what was proper game management. I knew why there were few animals and how to increase desired populations. I thought I knew what the public wanted. I learned from studies at Tech over 30 years ago (Kennedy 1970 ) that I could not guess public responses to questionnaires about what they wanted, that people change in their values and desires in predictable ways with age (like ecological succession (Leenhouts 1976, Clark 1985), that people do not know the wildlife laws (Beattie 1979) , and that there has been in my career-period a complete reversal of the ratio of rural to urban dwellers ... 75-25 is now 25-75! Study after study has shown landowner interests not in money from forestry but secondary, non-financial benefits. Half of mariages fail, thus half of male children have limited traditional-male outdoor experiences. Hunters have declined. Hunting of some species has been banned. "Environmentalists" - here suggested as preservationists and litigious-folks - have increased. The nature of "clients" has changed greatly and rapidly and represents an extremely diverse, changing mass of un-led people with ambiguous feelings and great psychological dissonance about the outdoors and the animal populations there.
There is a need for strong leadership to clarify objectives, to isolate differences in units of demand, values, risks, and substitutions and costs. The parallel needs are to clarify uses of and opportunities on private and public lands. The public is ignorant of the differences and their uses and responsibilities to the owners. It is time for the Magna Charta to be re-examined and adjustments made in land ownership rights and responsibilities for animals produced on certain lands. It is past time to deal with federal tax support of animal management on private and state lands and to deal with its implications (a national hunting license? or cessation of such spending?).
My simplistic view is that there are clients and managers. The client may be the general public or the landowner, etc. The manager works for clients under contract. Depending on the legal agreements, the manager serves the client to his or her best ability. The client states objectives; the manager achieves them cost effectively. If the manager does not agree with the objective, then there may be periods for education and change or disaffiliation. It seem ethically unacceptable to take pay to work at odds to the client's objectives (for longer than a reasonable educational period). It is similarly unacceptable to violate state or federal laws related to animals. The manager views these laws and regulations as the fixed or "given" conditions of employment not necessarily stipulated by the client. It is a function of management to assist clients in formulating objectives, quantifying them, measuring how well they are achieved, estimating the likely change in them, and providing advice on means for cost effectively reducing the gap between the existing conditions and the desired conditions.
Cross-Current 11. Solution vs Continuance
Management of faunal resource systems requires an attitude rarely stressed in modern society. The attitude is that there are few quick-fixes; no completion dates; no delivery parties. There is little managerial gratification; things do not come in TV intervals. Management is like owning a dairy herd. There is hard work and it may not ...ever...be interrupted. Continuous is the word for it, not continual. There are projects, programs, and adjustments, but even these are expected and part of the normal flowing series of operations. It is easy to become pessimistic within the milieu. The education and agency work required must address this condition and in addition to preparing the neophyte, prepare remedial assistance.
Cynics discuss "the bounty-hunter's strategy" which is never to kill a female of the species being sought (since it tends to reduce or slow the growth of the population and thus the potential bounties.) Others cynics discuss the well-fare worker strategy, one of never really solving problems for individuals or families for that would reduce the case-loads, the budgets allocated, and thus the growing staffs for which higher-paid leadership is needed. Enormous social problems suggest that this strategy is used only regionally. Some fear that similar illicit continuance strategies may exist in wild animal management work.
The work of the manager was once said to be like that of the medical doctors (Aldo Leopold in Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There). It may be more like nursing in a place for the mentally ill. The primary work is not curative but trying to prevent the patients from hurting each other. There are no cures. There is only adaptive work to be done. Adaptive is the new word for feedback that improves the system.
Cross-Current 12. Sequential vs Simultaneous Action
Researchers know that taking a sequential strategy is less risky than a simultaneous strategy toward a conclusion ... but that the costs are usually higher. Managers know that the number of different ways of doing something includes the sequence in which they are used. They know from basic arithmetic that the number of sequences or permutations (p) of n procedures is n! (e.g., when n is 5, then p = 120). Those who study ecological systems or even something as "simple" as changing population abundance rarely discuss the sequence of factors. In my view, sequence is more influential than most of the individual well-measured factors themselves (usually described in classical regression and principal component analyses). Sequence of rain and seed fall; fire and emergence; freezing and runoff are all examples of influential sequences. I think we have to use the simultaneous strategy more often; there is not enough time to do otherwise. Our species and the benefits needed from them are now very great. We must clarify objectives, reduce our requirements for confidence, and develop alternative simultaneous strategies. In our analyses we have to tease out the sequential effects.
Cross-Current 13. Curve-fitting vs Theory Building
I've been a curve-fitter. I admit it and apologize for it. I learned my error very late in my career. I once thought that if I could get a model from a data set that gave me good predictive ability, then that was sufficient. I could use the model, collect more data, and revise it. Using a model and making modest improvement were the two criteria for good work. Build adequate systems, use feedback ... these were the manager's rules. The spirit was "tentative assurance." I now know that that was not bad, only insufficient for a viable profession, a knowledge base to do sophisticated wild faunal resource management.
To build that base, we must build theory. I have little time here to describe my intention. I think the regression models we developed in the past were (and still are) useful but they probably point to generalizing relations. For example, I see simple linear regressions that are really curves because I never forced the line through zero - the "truth-place" for most biological work. I assumed these straight lines continued forever, but knew full well that systems came to a plateau. I accepted the numbers over my knowledge. I saw exponential relations of, for example, 1.87 and never asked whether that was close to 2 and could there be a squared relationship. I had been taught about the metabolic exponent of 0.75 and was delighted to learn that that was the same as 3/4 and that the 3 of the numerator was the volumetric relationship and that the 4 expressed the surface relationship of a sphere. The theory emerged from the simplification that animals in general have properties of spheres. We will see more theory built around animals living within volumes, animals living within the growing season, communities changing in transition spaces, alpha units characterized as Holderidge units (Holderidge, L.R. 1967. Life zone ecology, Tropical Science Center, Costa Rica), and new separation of aspect into "flat," and to transformed Easterly and Westerly directions. In the human direction, we will find changing human values are like ecological succession (now transformed to transition tables) and change with age. We will find the roots of objectives achievement running parallel to Chi-square or minimum-squared-distance theory. We'll re-study and gain new grounds for theory from statistical "range" for we in management operate and make decisions from extremes, not central tendency. Those of us dealing with environmental and social systems will not find our theory as simplistic and our systems as simplifiable as those of the physicist
Cross-Current 14. Agency vs Enterprise
It has taken me a long time to face up to have been little more than a tin-cup beggar on the streets of the U.S. For over 40 years I have begged for coins to do wildlife work and studies. I participated in scams to increase volunteerism; I've not fought hard enough against those keeping students in educational-bondage longer than appropriate. I have live off a special-interest tax that like others that are citizen-reviled do not emerge for regular review and re-authorization. I've been part of a pseudo-business that has found its product tainted and has lost its customers, has not transformed itself or diversified, and now discusses a form of bankruptcy.
Years ago public soil labs were closed because private labs could do the work once available only in the public sphere. Years ago the objectives of the Cooperative Wildlife Research Units were to do research and train wildlife specialists. They have succeeded but they still operate as if they have not. There are private forestry consultants because there are demands for services and the forestry agencies has limited their competitive scope of work. There are now needs for wildlife agencies to set such limits. There are only about 20 million active acres in Virginia. A staff of 20 vigorous biologists cannot spend an unacceptably-low 1 day per 10 acres in the 200 working days of a year to master the wildlife of each area and prescribe well for it. It will take them over 500 years to make the first pass. We need more intensive observation, analyses and prescriptions for the lands, waters, and animal populations of this state ... and the rest of the world. We have to find a new way to do it. Begging for it has not worked over the past century. It is silly to act is if we can using old procedures. We need an alternative strategy. The agency exists; it has a function; it need not be replaced (as if it could be.) There is a profound need for an alternative.
Dr. Jack Berryman had scorn heaped upon him when years ago he advocated attention to the finances of wildlife. We did not understand. We thought he was discussing shooting preserves, game ranching, and sales of hunting and fishing permits. Perhaps he was, but there can be more to the message that he tried to express.
"Keep your eye on the ball!" is screamed in every high school gym and every hour during basketball's "March Madness." We have done so and it has not served us well in wildlife management. Not long ago I pondered the football enterprise. It is a vast thing with players, stadiums, uniforms, tours, food, publication, etc. It is a vast enterprise. There are footballs, but in the grand scheme of things, they are irrelevant. That is the analogy. We have been keeping our eye on the animal in a potentially vast enterprise. As the football is essential but irrelevant, the wild animal is essential ... but irrelevant. We do not have to compute the value of meat in a carcass any more than leaders of the football enterprise spend much time on the quality of the laces. There is a total wildlife-related enterprise to be created and it will be more serving of the wildlife resource and people dependent upon it than our present activities ... or those likely to form in the agency dust of the next few years. The enterprise can include "all outdoors" a fishery, hiking groups, outdoor clothing, value-added forestry, land certification, pasture and range management, planning services, taxation service, camping equipment, tours, information, software, guide services, rural security, and many more ... some 40 distinct enterprises working together for profit. (all discussed in ../LastingForests/Index.htm). The key, however, is that which members of this Society know well ... a business as an ecosystem, diversity, synergism, sustained performance, viable managed spaces, intergenerational justice, recycling, monitoring with adaptation ... we must practice what we preach. The wildlife is at the center ... but like footballs, almost irrelevant in the football enterprise. I believe the enterprise concept is the major alternative available for the future. The state agency has not worked well or we would not be facing our current problems. In this globalizing society, it seems likely that constrained free-market capitalism will work. Enterprise-based wildlife resource management must be studied as a viable option. It is a major cross-current and when implemented will use the power intrinsic to the other currents for its enhancement, growth, and competition. The wild faunal resource will be the better for it.
Beattie, K. H. 1979. A social psychological investigation of attitudes of Virginia sportsmen toward game laws and regulations. Unpub. Ph.D. Dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va. x + 217 p.
Clark, A. G. 1985. Characteristics of trappers in Maine, 1976 to 1980. M.S. Thesis, Va. Poly. Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va. 156 pp.
Kennedy, J.J. 1970. A consumer analysis approach to recreational decisions: deer hunters as a case study. Unpub PhD Dissertation, VPI, Blacksburg, Va 182pp.
Leenhouts, W. P. 1976. Forecasting policy and human population effects on the Michigan deer resource. Unpub. M.S. Thesis, Va. Poly. Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va., ix + 153 p.
Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
January 1, 2007