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The scientific basis for lynx conservation: Qualified insights [Chapter 16]

Posted date: March 26, 2016
Publication Year: 
2000
Authors: Aubry, Keith B.; Buskirk, Steven W.; Koehler, Gary M.; Krebs, Charles J.; McKelvey, Kevin S.Squires, John R.
Publication Series: 
General Technical Report (GTR)
Source: In: Ruggiero, Leonard F.; Aubry, Keith B.; Buskirk, Steven W.; Koehler, Gary M.; Krebs, Charles J.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Squires, John R. Ecology and conservation of lynx in the United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-30WWW. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 443-454.
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

The information presented in this chapter is based on (1) extant knowledge of lynx ecology, (2) the pertinence of this knowledge to lynx conservation in the contiguous United States, (3) the ecological concepts discussed in the first section of this book, and (4) the collective interpretation and judgment of the authors. We have chosen the term "qualified insights" to indicate that we know very little about lynx ecology in the United States and that understandings based on this state of knowledge are necessarily incomplete. The application of science results in a gradual accretion of understanding as relatively small increments of knowledge are added to existing scientific paradigms. This is not to say that the scientific process is always linear, that intuition and creativity are not crucial aspects of the process, or that paradigm-changing flashes of insight do not occur. All of these are elements of the scientific process, but scientific understandings are generally constructed bit by bit as the result of a sustained commitment to research. It follows that scientists generally ask questions that are tractable given the normal tools of scientific investigation, and that large, complex problems are broken down into manageable pieces. As a corollary to this, it is inappropriate to expect scientists to solve complex problems in a single stroke. Yet this is often what ecologists are called upon to do when land managers and decision-makers find that they lack sufficient understanding to meet legal mandates for environmental protection. For example, understanding how the viability of lynx populations is affected by human actions is an extremely complex problem and, because there has not been a sustained commitment to research, the scientific basis for answering this question is inadequate. No amount of socio-political clamoring for reliable answers will change this; uncertainty will prevail.

Citation

Leonard F.; Aubry, Keith B.; Buskirk, Steven W.; Koehler, Gary M.; Krebs, Charles J.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Squires, John R. 2000. The scientific basis for lynx conservation: Qualified insights [Chapter 16]. In: Ruggiero, Leonard F.; Aubry, Keith B.; Buskirk, Steven W.; Koehler, Gary M.; Krebs, Charles J.; McKelvey, Kevin S.; Squires, John R. Ecology and conservation of lynx in the United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-30WWW. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 443-454.