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The importance of data-driven wildlife management in a post-truth society
As humanity hurtles into the age of the Anthropocene, one of our immense challenges is conserving the functional roles large mammals play within the novel social-ecological systems we are creating. Large carnivores and herbivores disproportionately influence the structure and increase the resilience of ecosystems; however, they can also be a source of costly conflicts with humans. Conserving these valuable, yet sometimes dangerous, species is further complicated by an increasingly polarized society that places diminished value on empirically-derived wildlife management.
In this talk, Jarod Raithel, a frame three case studies within their social-ecological contexts to illustrate the importance of investing in objective research that informs the management of black bears in New Jersey, elk in Montana, and cougars in South Dakota. I focus on how each of these research efforts expanded upon prevailing theoretical paradigms and provided managers with pragmatic tools to meet the demands of their diverse stakeholders.
Raithel is a doctoral candidate in ecology at Utah State University. In his current research he is examining how landscape transformation and human interactions have shaped the behavior, spatial ecology and population dynamics of black bears over three decades in the Mid-Atlantic United States.
Raithel earned an MS in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, where he quantified the cause-specific mortality of calf elk and its influence on elk population growth in the Blackfoot Valley, Montana. He has contributed to a number of conservation efforts over the years, including: assessing the health of coral reefs along the Andaman Coast, Thailand; repatriating the threatened Louisiana black bear; identifying critical stop-overs for migrating pintail ducks in the Pacific flyway; and exploring wolf-deer predator-prey dynamics in Southeast Alaska. His research is guided by understanding how anthropogenic stressors impact the behaviors of individuals differently, and can scale up to affect population dynamics, micro-evolutionary responses, and community interactions.
Faculty and practitioners discuss their current research and field projects in the college’s Science and Mathematics Colloquium Series, held throughout the academic year at the ASU Polytechnic campus. All seminars are free and open to the public.