Our purpose in this paper is to build a case for utilizing interdisciplinary science to enhance the management of parks and protected areas. We suggest that interdisciplinary science is necessary for dealing with the complex issues of contemporary resource management, and that using the best available integrated scientific information be embraced and supported at all levels of agencies that manage parks and protected areas. It will take the commitment of park managers, scientists, and agency leaders to achieve the goal of implementing the results of interdisciplinary science into park management. Although such calls go back at least several decades, today interdisciplinary science is sporadically being promoted as necessary for supporting effective protected area management(e.g., Machlis et al. 1981; Kelleher and Kenchington 1991). Despite this history, rarely has "interdisciplinary science" been defined, its importance explained, or guidance provided on how to translate and then implement the associated research results into management actions (Tress et al. 2006; Margles et al. 2010). With the extremely complex issues that now confront protected areas (e.g., climate change influences, extinctions and loss of biodiversity, human and wildlife demographic changes, and unprecedented human population growth) information from more than one scientific discipline will need to be brought to bear in order to achieve sustained management solutions that resonate with stakeholders (Ostrom 2009). Although interdisciplinary science is not the solution to all problems, we argue that interdisciplinary research is an evolving and widely supported best practice. In the case of park and protected area management, interdisciplinary science is being driven by the increasing recognition of the complexity and interconnectedness of human and natural systems, and the notion that addressing many problems can be more rapidly advanced through interdisciplinary study and analysis.
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Using integrated research and interdisciplinary science: Potential benefits and challenges to managers of parks and protected areas