Identifying areas of scientific uncertainty is a critical step in the adaptive management process (Walters, 1986; Runge, Converse, and Lyons, 2011). To identify key areas of scientific uncertainty regarding biologic resources of importance to the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC) convened Knowledge Assessment Workshops in May and July 2005. One of the products of these workshops was a set of strategic science questions that highlighted key areas of scientific uncertainty. These questions were intended to frame and guide the research and monitoring activities conducted by the GCMRC in subsequent years. Questions were developed collaboratively by scientists and managers. The questions were not all of equal importance or merit—some questions were large scale and others were small scale. Nevertheless, these questions were adopted and have guided the research and monitoring efforts conducted by the GCMRC since 2005.
A new round of Knowledge Assessment Workshops was convened by the GCMRC in June and October 2011 and January 2012 to determine whether the research and monitoring activities conducted since 2005 had successfully answered some of the strategic science questions. Oral presentations by scientists highlighting research findings were a centerpiece of all three of the 2011–12 workshops. Each presenter was also asked to provide an answer to the strategic science questions that were specific to the presenter’s research area. One limitation of this approach is that these answers represented the views of the handful of scientists who developed the presentations, and, as such, they did not incorporate other perspectives. Thus, the answers provided by presenters at the Knowledge Assessment Workshops may not have accurately captured the sentiments of the broader group of scientists involved in research and monitoring of the Colorado River in Glen and Grand Canyons. Yet a fundamental ingredient of resilient decisionmaking and problem-solving is incorporation of a wide range of perspectives (Carpenter and others, 2009). To ensure that a wide range of scientists had an opportunity to weigh in on the strategic science questions, the GCMRC elicited additional perspectives through written questionnaires. Independently soliciting responses from scientists through questionnaires had the added advantage of allowing all scientists to freely and openly share their views on complex and controversial topics—something which may not have occurred in the group setting of the June 2011 Knowledge Assessment Workshop because of dominance by one or more scientists. The purpose of this report is to document and interpret the questionnaire responses.
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USGS Numbered Series
Identification and evaluation of scientific uncertainties related to fish and aquatic resources in the Colorado River, Grand Canyon - summary and interpretation of an expert-elicitation questionnaire