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Stakeholder-led science: engaging resource managers to identify science needs for long-term management of floodplain conservation lands

Kristen L. Bouska, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Missouri; Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, U.S. Geological Survey
Garth A. Lindner, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Missouri
Craig P. Paukert, U.S. Geological Survey Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri
Robert B. Jacobson, Columbia Environmental Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey


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Floodplains pose challenges to managers of conservation lands because of constantly changing interactions with their rivers. Although scientific knowledge and understanding of the dynamics and drivers of river-floodplain systems can provide guidance to floodplain managers, the scientific process often occurs in isolation from management. Further, communication barriers between scientists and managers can be obstacles to appropriate application of scientific knowledge. With the coproduction of science in mind, our objectives were the following: (1) to document management priorities of floodplain conservation lands, and (2) identify science needs required to better manage the identified management priorities under nonstationary conditions, i.e., climate change, through stakeholder queries and interactions. We conducted an online survey with 80 resource managers of floodplain conservation lands along the Upper and Middle Mississippi River and Lower Missouri River, USA, to evaluate management priority, management intensity, and available scientific information for management objectives and conservation targets. Management objectives with the least information available relative to priority included controlling invasive species, maintaining respectful relationships with neighbors, and managing native, nongame species. Conservation targets with the least information available to manage relative to management priority included pollinators, marsh birds, reptiles, and shore birds. A follow-up workshop and survey focused on clarifying science needs to achieve management objectives under nonstationary conditions. Managers agreed that metrics of inundation, including depth and extent of inundation, and frequency, duration, and timing of inundation would be the most useful metrics for management of floodplain conservation lands with multiple objectives. This assessment provides guidance for developing relevant and accessible science products to inform management of highly dynamic floodplain environments. Although the problems facing managers of these lands are complex, products focused on a small suite of inundation metrics were determined to be the most useful to guide the decision making process.

Key words

floodplain management; inundation; large rivers; Mississippi River Basin; nonstationarity

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087