Collaborative environmental management draws on a wide range of information, from a variety of stakeholders, to inform policy. Scientific information is particularly relevant for ecosystem restoration plans, such as those created for recovering species on the brink of extinction. This study examines use of evidence in salmon recovery plans in Puget Sound, USA. Across 12 plans, coders characterized 1104 references to identify their source, recency, domain, and context. Subsequently, 11 plans were analyzed in-depth to identify how each reference was used to support particular kinds of claims. Results indicate the most frequent source of information cited in salmon recovery plans is government agencies, especially from national and state governments, followed by peer reviewed journal articles and scientific books. Journal articles come predominantly from high impact (top quartile) journals, although these articles are on average 15 years old. Sources are almost exclusively from the domain of natural sciences (97%), with just 1% social sciences and 2% non-scientific. More references come from beyond than within the local watershed. Different reference sources are used to support different kinds of claims, with government agency sources positively associated with claims about species status/trends, and peer reviewed journal articles positively associated with claims about causes of species decline. Overall, the lack of social science references, and lack of references to support claims about levels of community support, reduce managers’ abilities to incorporate features of social systems into species recovery planning.
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Research assistants on this project included Mason Ward, Johannah Noyes, Amanda Davis, Lexi Ehresmann, Joshua Murray, Myah Pacheco, and Clare Tupper. Funding for student interns provided by the Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma, WA.
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Koontz, T.M. Incorporating Evidence into Collaborative Ecosystem Restoration: A Content Analysis of Bibliographic References and their Use in Salmon Recovery Plans. Environmental Management 71, 350–364 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-022-01766-w
- Collaborative governance
- Evidence-based policy
- Endangered species