Landscape Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 799–809 | Cite as

Making ecological science policy-relevant: issues of scale and disciplinary integration

  • Carly J. Stevens
  • Iain Fraser
  • Jonathan Mitchley
  • Matthew B. Thomas


In this paper, we ask why so much ecological scientific research does not have a greater policy impact in the UK. We argue that there are two potentially important and related reasons for this failing. First, much current ecological science is not being conducted at a scale that is readily meaningful to policy-makers. Second, to make much of this research policy-relevant requires collaborative interdisciplinary research between ecologists and social scientists. However, the challenge of undertaking useful interdisciplinary research only re-emphasises the problems of scale: ecologists and social scientists traditionally frame their research questions at different scales and consider different facets of natural resource management, setting different objectives and using different language. We argue that if applied ecological research is to have greater impact in informing environmental policy, much greater attention needs to be given to the scale of the research efforts as well as to the interaction with social scientists. Such an approach requires an adjustment in existing research and funding infrastructures.


Evidence-based research Interdisciplinary Scale 



The authors thank RELU for funding this scoping study (Designing and Implementing Large Scale Experiments in Land Use). The content of the paper draws partly on the outputs of an interdisciplinary workshop held at Imperial College London in April 2005. We are very grateful to the participants in the workshop, especially Calvin Dytham, Les Firbank, Rob Fraser, Charles Godfray, Simon Gillings, Andrew Hector, Andreas Kontoleon, Tobias Langanke, David Murrell, Chris Preston, Steve Ormerod, Steve Rushton and Noel Russell.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carly J. Stevens
    • 1
  • Iain Fraser
    • 2
  • Jonathan Mitchley
    • 3
  • Matthew B. Thomas
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Applied Economics and Business Management, Kent Business SchoolUniversity of KentWyeUK
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural SciencesImperial College LondonWyeUK
  4. 4.NERC Centre for Population BiologyImperial College LondonAscotUK
  5. 5.CSIRO EntomologyCanberraAustralia

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