Lauber and Decker Guest Editors for Speical Issue of Human Dimensions of Wildlife Journal

Dr. Bruce Lauber and Dr. Dan Decker are guest editors for the special edition of Human Dimensions of Wildlife: An International Journal. This special issue, Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management: An Essential Component of Adaptive Capacity, has a special introduction written by Lauber and Decker as well as an article by William Siemer, Bruce Lauber, Daniel Decker, and Shawn Riley.

This new issue contains the following articles:

Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management: An Essential Component of Adaptive Capacity
T. Bruce Lauber & Daniel J. Decker
Pages: 317-319

Peer-Reviewed Articles
Managing Large Ungulates in Europe: The Need to Address Institutional Challenges of Wildlife Management
Camilla Sandström
Pages: 320-332

Landscape Conservation Cooperatives: Bridging Entities to Facilitate Adaptive Co-Governance of Social–Ecological Systems
Cynthia Jacobson & Amanda L. Robertson
Pages: 333-343

Using Adaptive Leadership Principles in Collaborative Conservation with Stakeholders to Tackle a Wicked Problem: Imperiled Species Management in Florida
Elsa M. Haubold
Pages: 344-356

Contextual Awareness in Long-Term Partnerships Builds Adaptive Capacity for Conservation
Michael Painter & Heidi E. Kretser
Pages: 357-366

Measuring Motivations as a Method of Mitigating Social Values Conflict
Peter J. Fix & Andrew M. Harrington
Pages: 367-375

Agency Traits That Build Capacity to Manage Disease
William F. Siemer, T. Bruce Lauber, Daniel J. Decker & Shawn J. Riley
Pages: 376-388



Call for abstracts – Human Dimensions Conference

Professor Dan Decker, director of the Human Dimensions Research Unit (HDRU), is co-chair for Pathways to Success, an international Human Dimensions Conference. The mission of the conference is to increase professionalism and effectiveness in the human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife management. This year’s theme is Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management: An Essential Component of Adaptive Capacity. Dan is organizing a plenary session for the conference, and is serving, with HDRU Senior Research Associate Bruce Lauber, as co-editor of an associated special issue of the Human Dimensions of Wildlife journal. The conference will take place in Breckenridge, Colorado, September 24-27, 2012 and is a cooperative effort between Cornell University and Colorado State University.

Visit the conference website at to learn more.

Conference Themes:
Biodiversity and Coupled Social-Ecological Systems
Fish and Wildlife Governance
The Changing Nature of Wildlife Conservation
Enduring Issues in HDFW
Improving HDFW Science
Increasing HDFW Capacity
Working with the Public
Implications of Global Change
Human Wildlife Conflict
Wildlife in an Ecosystem Services Paradigm
Discourses about Wildlife
Demographics and Fish and Wildlife Policy

Department Presence at 77th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference

The 2012 North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference was held last week (March 12-17) in Atlanta, GA.  Cynthia Jacobson (MS ‘96, PhD ‘06) and Professor Dan Decker (BS ‘74, MS ‘76, PhD ‘86) were co-organizers (with John Organ and Chris Smith) of an Agency Transformation workshop.  This was the third day-long workshop the group has offered agency and NGO leaders (2010, 2011, 2012) at this conference.  The agency transformation topic is informed and motivated by Cindi’s doctoral dissertation research, conducted when she was a graduate student in Natural Resources.  Ashley Dayer (PhD candidate) participated in the workshop.

Department staff and graduates also contributed to a conference special session titled “Integrating Human Dimensions Knowledge and Wildlife Disease Management.”  The session was organized by Professor Shawn Riley (PhD ’98 and former postdoc in the Human Dimensions Research Unit) and Shauna Hannisch.  Two of the four featured paper presentations were either given by or included DNR staff as coauthors.  Dr. Bill Siemer (PhD ‘09), research associate in the Human Dimensions Research Unit, reported on a study he, Sr. Research Associate Bruce Lauber (PhD ‘96), Dan Decker and Shawn Riley are working to identify fish and wildlife health management capacity needs for state agencies. Dr. Margaret Wild, chief of the wildlife health program for National Park Service gave a paper on the communication considerations associated with a “one health” approach to wildlife health management, co-authored with Dan Decker and others.  Dan Decker wrapped up the special session with summary comments that emphasized the need for integrating research-based human dimensions knowledge into policy, planning and practice for wildlife disease management, and also reinforced the need to be deliberate in communicating about wildlife disease so as to avoid unwarranted magnification of public risk perceptions.

Additionally, Phd candidate Ashley Dayer contributed to bird conservation meetings at the conference.  She serves on the Council for Partners in Flight ( This invitation-only body makes decisions to guide the activities of the international land bird conservation initiative.  Ashley also presented in the Partners in Flight/Waterbird/Shorebird Working Group on the results of a webinar series she led to aid state agency employees in learning about bird conservation tools and resources.  With tight budgets, agency staff are increasingly limited in their ability to travel, making such innovative approaches to connect and share resources essential.

Introduction to DNR’s Post-Doc Researchers

This year the Department of Natural Resources is fortunate to have several post-doc researchers working with them. Below are short biographies of their diverse backgrounds and current research interests.

Selmin Creamer:

Selmin is a postdoctoral research associate at the Human Dimensions Research Unit and currently working on a project investigating the recreational impacts of the aquatic nuisance species (ANS) in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River Basins with Bruce Lauber. Two primary objectives of the project are to provide defensible economic benefit estimates associated with current recreational angling in the study area and to collect contingent behavior information from existing anglers in the study area about how their fishing activities would change in response to variations in the species composition that could result from ANS. The results are intended to generate estimates of the effects on recreational angling activity and benefits associated with management decisions regarding the spread of ANS between the Great Lakes and the Upper Mississippi River Basin through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and other aquatic pathways.

Before coming to the Department of Natural Resources, Selmin completed her PhD and MA at Washington State University. Her PhD thesis focused on forest economics. For her first paper, she conducted an econometric study using the data from U.S. Forest Service’s National Woodland Owners Survey and examined the family forest owners’ forest certification program participation behavior in the Pacific Coast and Southern regions of the United States.

For her second paper, she investigated a forest owner’s decision on when to harvest her/his forest and how much it is currently worth, using the real options framework for a representative Douglas-fir stand in the Pacific Northwest, when the carbon price was stochastic and there was a risk of fire. For her MA thesis, she conducted an econometric study for estimating and forecasting the passenger and heavy truck annual vehicle miles of travel (AVMT) on each highway functional class for Washington State.

Andrea Dávalos:

Andrea was born and raised in Ecuador, where she did my B.Sc. in Biology. After spending many years in the rainforest, working on sustainable timber management and associated conservation challenges, she decided to return to school.  Andrea came to Cornell to pursue a M.Sc. an later a Ph.D in Natural Resources, where she addressed issues in biological invasions and biological control applying a quantitative and experimental approach.  After completion, she returned to Ecuador where, together with local governments and NGOs, they developed management plans for protected areas. During that time, she also taught extensively at a local University and later became the Director of the Department of Biological Sciences. She then realized she would like spend more time doing research and therefore, decided to return to Cornell as a post-doc in Prof. Bernd Blossey’s lab. Currently, she is working on understanding the interactive effects of multiple stressors (deer overabundance, earthworm invasion and invasive plants) on populations of endangered plants, as well as examining how these factors can be manipulated to achieve successful management. Her research interests are centered on community dynamics, especially in the context of plant-herbivore interactions and the spatial and temporal scales at which they occur. Her work is motivated by a strong interest in conservation and in the development of tools to restore natural ecosystems.

Nadine Heck:

Nadine is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Natural Resources working on the human dimensions of fishery management in the Great Lakes with Rich Stedman. The main aim of the project will be to rewrite a framework on human dimensions’ research needs for the Great Lakes fisheries based on input from fishery managers and other stakeholder groups.

Before coming to Cornell she did a PhD in geography at the University of Leeds (UK) in collaboration with the University of Victoria (CA). Her thesis focused on the identification and selection of indicators for evaluating temperate marine protected areas (MPAs) in British Columbia, Canada. The thesis also examined distinct evaluation information needs of diverse stakeholder groups and protected area managers as well as their opinions on the design of an evaluation and monitoring constraints. In addition, she investigated how far stakeholders would like to participate in MPA evaluation activities and which factors are influencing stakeholders’ opinions on MPA performance and participation. Since marine jurisdictions in Canada are very complex and often overlapping, a significant part of her research focused on governance aspects for marine conservation efforts.

Dan Ilut:

Dan did his undergrad work at Cornell (class of ’97) in physics and philosophy, followed by several years as a software developer, and eventually doctoral work in plant biology (once again at Cornell) with prof. Jeff Doyle.  He is currently a postoc working with Matt Hare (DNR) and Kelly Zamudio (EEB) under a grant from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future ( Dan’s main research interest is genome archaeology: identifying older evolutionary events whose fingerprints are still present in a species’ genome, along with the relationship these events might have to current ecological niches occupied by those species.  Previous work included a comparative transcriptomics project among wild relatives of soybean in order to try and understand the “polyploid advantage” (Ilut et al. 2012; as well as an angiosperm-wide comparative study of key genes and taxa involved in the evolution of floral organs (Floral Genome Project;  His work in the Hare lab involves the development of bioinformatics methods for high confidence SNP detection using genotype-by-sequencing (GBS) in highly heterozygous non-model organisms such as sea squirts and oysters. In addition, he is working with Kelly Zamudio on research involving the global pandemic strain of the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a pathogen that is currently eradicating frog populations worldwide.

Sarwat Ismail:

Sarwat is a Plant Ecologist, who received her Ph.D.  from University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan. During her Ph.D. she studied Heavy Metals pollution in different Mangrove Habitats of Pakistan.  In her Post-Doctoral research from Cornell University, she worked on identification and localization of copper transporters  in plants. Currently, at Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, with Dr. Shorna B. Allred  she is studying conservation of degraded  mangrove forest of Pakistan through community forestry for sustainable management of natural resources and to analyze the socio-political dimensions of mangrove forest conservation. The purpose of this project is to bring the local community in a common vision for the area development that leads towards linkage between poverty and environmental degradation. At the same time the values of the Mangrove Ecosystem should be communicated at both the local and national level to encourage support for mangrove management and conservation.

Current Updates in the Human Dimensions Research Unit

The Human Dimensions Research Unit (HDRU) at Cornell University strives to expand the understanding of academicians, students, and natural resources agency staff about the human behavioral aspects of natural resource management and policy. We work to develop fundamental understandings of human behavior associated with resource management and to apply concepts and empirical findings to real-world, contemporary problems of management.

Professor Dan Decker, director of HDRU, is currently co-chair for an international human dimensions conference, organizing a plenary session for that conference, and is serving with HDRU Senior Research Associate Bruce Lauber  as co-editor of an associated special issue of the Human Dimensions of Wildlife journal. The conference will take place in Breckenridge, Colorado, September 24-27, 2012 and is a cooperative effort  between Cornell University and Colorado State University. The conference theme is “Contributions of Human Dimensions to Adaptive Capacity for Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

Dan Decker is also currently involved in multiple outreach workshops for fish and wildlfie professionals. He has worked with Cindi Jacobson (MS and PhD from Natural Resources)  John Organ (both with US Fish and Wildlife Service), as well as Chris Smith (Wildlife Management Institute) to develop a third workshop in their series at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference on “Transforming State Fish and Wildlife Agencies.”   The 2012 workshop is focused on Perspectives from Outside the Tent Looking In:  Enhancing State Wildlife Agencies’ Impact on the Future of Wildlife Conservation.”  The objective of this workshop is to identify challenges and opportunities for collaboration in wildlife conservation and strategies leading to effective wildlife resource governance.   The workshop focus is on how potential conservation partners (NGOs, federal and local governments, etc.) for State Wildlife Agencies see the direction of needed state agency transformation.  Dan is also planning a series of workshops for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on “Thinking Like a Manager,” “Implications of the Public Trust Doctrine for State Fish and Wildlife Agencies” and “Human Dimensions integration in Fish and Wildlife management through Impact Management.”

Associate Professor Richard C. Stedman, associate director of HDRU, was recently awarded (as part of the Cornell Cooperative Extension team) the David J. Allee and Paul R. Eberts Community and Economic Vitality Award for work related to Marcellus shale.

Rich Stedman is also the Cornell University representative on a National Science Foundation proposal: People, water, and climate: Predicting change, response, and adaptation in socio-ecological systems (Water Sustainability & Climate).  If successful, HDRU would be involved in a basin wide study of linkages between ecological and social change, which fits nicely with current Army Corps and Great Lakes Fisheries projects.

Associate Professor Shorna B. Allred, associate director of HDRU, is involved in multiple workshops and webinars including a Cornell Cooperative Extension Workshop that held October 14 titled “Fostering Community Engagement in Urban Forestry: A Practical Toolkit for Educators.” Others include “Ties to the Land Workshops” and webinars and Climate Atlas Webinars with Cooperative Extension Associates Kristi Sullivan and Gary Goff.

Other ongoing HDRU projects (a sample) include:

  • Increasing the Effectiveness of Fish Consumption Advisories in the Great Lakes States
  • Building Local Capacity for Environmental Resources Conservation in the Face of Change
  • Assessing Agency Capacities to Manage Fish and Wildlife Health
  • Developing knowledge to manage economic, health, and safety risks of wildlife for individuals and communities in New York
  • Human dimensions knowledge to manage wildlife habituation in national parks
  • New York State Woodland Owners and Their Interest in Woody Biofuels

A more comprehensive review of 2010 projects and activities in HDRU can be found in the HDRU Annual Report. Current HDRU publications can be found here.