US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Christopher (Chris) A. Armatas

Research Social Scientist
790 East Beckwith Avenue
United States

Phone: 406-542-4192
Contact Christopher (Chris) A. Armatas

Current Research

My research is broadly focused on understanding human-nature relationships with public lands and protected areas. This includes how human well-being is supported by nature, as represented by the importance of ecosystem services or, similarly, human and ecological meanings and services. Additionally, my current research focuses on perceptions of relevant drivers of change within the context of human-nature relationships. That is, how are people’s connection to some natural resource of interest potentially threatened or enhanced by a diverse range of influential factors, including management actions, climate change, land use change, and tradeoffs among differing human-nature relationships?

Research Interests

My research interests include: understanding the diverse range of human-nature relationships supported by Wilderness and wildlands; understanding the potential conflict between different human-nature relationships within the context of management and planning of protected areas; the role of Wilderness and similarly protected wildlands within the context of social-ecological systems; development and deployment of scientifically-rigorous, transactive approaches to public engagement within the context of large-scale planning processes (revision of forest plans and comprehensive river management plans); integration and application of multiple methods (qualitative and quantitative) and ways of knowing into land management and stewardship decision-making and; enhancing communication of diverse human-nature relationships for the purposes of social learning.

Why This Research is Important

My current research and research interests are motivated by an underpinning goal to support management, planning, and stewardship of Wilderness and other public lands. However, the decision-making process facing our land managers and planners across all four federal land management agencies often constitutes a complex social-ecological problem. That is, there is no single ‘correct’ choice of, for instance, a forest plan alternative, a stewardship approach to protecting Wilderness character, and/or a Wild and Scenic River user-capacity determination. These decisions involve tradeoffs among different human-nature relationships, mediation of differing values and philosophies of both decision-makers and the general public, and the interpretation of core social constructs (e.g., solitude, untrammeled, sustainability) within the context of constantly evolving social and ecological systems. Social science is integral for informing and, perhaps more importantly, communicating these decisions. Fundamentally, the social science research described above can help address these complex problems by providing information to managers, policy-makers, the public, and other scientists that highlights the importance of nature for supporting well-being.


  • University of Montana, Ph.D. Forestry and Conservation Sciences Dissertation title: Pragmatist Ecological Economics: Focusing on human-nature relationships and social-ecological systems 2019
  • University of Montana, M.S. Resource Conservation Thesis title: The importance of water-based ecosystem services derived from the Shoshone National Forest 2012
  • St. Lawrence University, B.A. Economics 2005

Professional Experience

  • Research Social Scientist, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute – RMRS
    2020 - Current
  • Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education Research Fellow, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute – RMRS
    2018 - 2020
  • Research Assistant/Research Associate - Social science research and data archiving, University of Montana
    2011 - 2018

Awards & Recognition

  • Climate Travel Award, 2020
    Sponsored by the journal Climate, this award was given to two post-doctoral researchers across the Globe based upon research to be presented at an international conference.
  • Excellence in Wilderness Research Applications, USDA Forest Service , 2015
    Part of the Chief's National Wilderness Award series, this award recognized efforts to archives over fifty years of wilderness science data.

Last updated on : 05/15/2020