Answering Questions in Management and Research Using Large-Scale Manipulative Experiments

Robert J. Cooper1, George A. Gale2, and Leonard A. Brennan3

ABSTRACT— The information base regarding management practices for migratory landbirds and other nongame species does not yet exist. Land managers, therefore, must act with inadequate knowledge of the resources they are charged with managing. We believe that part of the solution to this problem rests with the land managers themselves, in that they are in a position to gain new knowledge about this resource by combining research or monitoring with the management activities they currently use or anticipate using. By collaborating with researchers, they can modify some of these manipulations to take the form of well-designed, large-scale experiments. Ideally, such experiments should include features of sound experimental design, such as replication, randomization, and controls. Where such features are compromised, we offer some suggestions on how to modify designs appropriately. They also should include estimation of demographic parameters such as productivity and survival, rather than just assessment of presence/absence. We present four examples from our own work with silviculture in two forest types, prescribed fire, and insect pest management. In each case, a long-term, large-scale, manipulative experiment was developed and funded through collaborative efforts among researchers, managers, and multiple partners. Benefits to managers include timely information directly pertinent to their lands. Benefits to researchers include increased funding opportunities for basic as well as applied research, and the knowledge that their research results are being used. Both groups benefit in that they are able to achieve more together than either could alone.

1Daniel B. Warnell School of Forest Resources
  University of Georgia
  Athens, GA USA 30602

2Department of Biology
  University of Memphis
  Memphis, TN USA 38152

3Tall Timbers Research Station
  Route 1, Box 678
  Tallahassee, FL USA 32312

  Current address:
  King Mongkut’s University of Technology
  Thonburi School of Bioresources & Technology
  Division of Natural Resources Management, Bangmod, Thungkru
  Bangkok 10140 THAILAND