Science in Action HOME
Our Work
Our research integrates cultural and biological perspectives emerging from a deeper understanding of behavior within the broad interdisciplinary context of conservation biology. For additional information, contact: Dr. Jane Packard
BLOG Our work


Expanding urban communities bring people together with diverse viewpoints about land conservation. Our work helps citizens reflect on where they are on the same page and where they may differ. We network with with local, regional and national organizations that hold lands in public trust. more...



  • Land Trusts
  • Cultural Models


  • Interdisciplinary Breadth
  • Disciplinary Depth
  • Other



HARC "Land Trusts"

HARC "Land Conservation"


RC&D Councils



Land Trusts: science and society more....

    We are interested in how diverse organizations use or exclude science in decisions that influence land conservation. Our simple hypothesis is that national organizations are more likely to use science and local organizations are more likely to appeal to the cultural heritage of rural stakeholders. An ongoing case study in the Big Thicket region of southeast Texas indicates reality is more complex. Over the next year, we will be conducting more interviews to examine the evidence and develop a more realistic model.

    Our objectives are to examine the interactions among: (1) organizational structure, (2) hybrid products that may serve as bridges between social and scientific perspectives, and (3) procedures that facilitate or inhibit reflective exchanges between scientists and decision-makers.

    Practical uses of this information will be guided by the needs of our partners in local, regional and national networks. Collaboratively, we are preparing workshops and associated outreach materials.

    This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, titled "Land Trusts: Mediating Science and Policy on Conservation Lands".

Cultural Models: getting to the same page more.... .

Let's consider an analogy. Have you heard the saying "birds of a feather flock together"? Individuals with each group learn to speak a language that may not be shared with other groups. Confusion may arise when you throw out a handful of grain, bringing diverse flocks to feed together. However, when a fox shows up, all understand the shared signals of alarm!

With urban expansion into rural areas where timber lands have been sold off by corporations, more and diverse people will be sharing scarce resources in the future. Some rural counties and towns want to prepare staff members to work more efficiently with citizens from diverse walks of life. Those communities that discover ways to work together, creatively, will be better able to benefit from available resources. A big hurdle may be "getting to the same page", so this project was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better serve changing rural communities.

We are collaborating with colleagues at the University of Maryland and the Houston Advanced Research Center to better understand the diverse ways that rural stakeholders talk about "conservation lands". The views that are shared by a network of citizens are what we are calling a cultural model. We have interviewed citizens within networks of developers, conservationists, regulators and land owners.

People know when they are on the same page, because they don't have to explain their thinking. They share a tacit or intuitive understanding, which may not be obvious to someone with a different life experience. When people are not aware they are on different pages, discord may easily escalate. Ever try to sing along with the choir when you had turned to the wrong page?

Our goal is to provide information that will help diverse citizens find ways to make explicit their tacit assumptions, in ways that help them discover where they are on the same page and where they are not. Concensus building starts where people are on the same page. To begin with, this may be a small page in diverse groups. However, people who care will voluntarily find ways to expand their cultural competency by better understanding each others perspectives.

To reach this goal, our objectives are to better understand: (1) sources, content and application of cultural knowledge about land conservation, (2) similarities and differences between two case studies on the eastern and western edges of the southern forests (Maryland's Eastrn Shore of the Chesapake Bay and the Big Thicket area of southeast Texas), and (3) what is the quantitative evidence that cultural models actually resonate with a larger group of survey respondents beyond our selected group of interviewees.



Interdisciplinary Breadth: Conservation Biology

Big Thicket Association. 1/15/05-5/15/05. "Community Based Conservation and Science in Big Thicket National Preserve".

National Science Foundation, 10/01-10/02. "Biology Team: Macro & Micro Living Worlds". With L. Griffing and R. James. Administered through the Center for Information, Technology and Science in Teaching and Learning.

University of North Texas. 6/1/03-6/1/04. Wildlife Distribution in Relation to Landscape Connectivity within Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area.

Wildlife Conservation Society. 6/1/ 96-7/1/97. "Binational Collaboration in Recovery of Endangered Species: the Mexican Wolf as a Case Study". With Jose F. Bernal-Stoopen.

World Wildlife Fund, 9/1/91 - 8/31/93. "Reproduction, ecology and human impacts: a threatened endemic Mexican parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) and congeneric sympatrics". With E. Enkerlin.

Expanded Research Award, Texas A&M University, 7/1/89 - 6/30/91. "Ecotourism Development Strategies: A Conceptual Framework". With W. Stewart, R. Maggio

Program Development Fund, Texas A&M University, 12/15/88-08/31/89. "Development of a Geographic Information System". With D. Slack, K. Risenhoover, N. Silvy.

Organized Research, Texas A&M University, 10/22/85 - 08/31/86. "Workshop on Expert Systems in Wildlife Management". With J. Folse, W. Grant.

Pew Charitable Trusts, 10/01/88 - 10/10/89. "Integrated Approaches to Training in Conservation and Sustainable Development". With D.J. Schmidly, F. Smeins, K. Kimber, M. Murphy, D. Slack.

International Enhancement Grant, Texas A&M University, 11/1/90 - 9/1/91."Landscape Analysis of Wildlands in the Borderlands of Northeastern Mexico".

International Coordination, Texas A&M University, 4/27/87 - 12/31/87. "Biodiversity in Reserves of the Cameroon".

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 09/01/82 - 08/31/83. "Proposed Research/Management Plan for Crystal River Manatees". With R. Gregory.

Disciplinary Depth: Ethology

The Yellowstone Park Foundation, 10/1/97-10/1/99. "Denning Behavior of Wolves on Yellowstone's Northern Range: Male and Female Strategies". With Linda Thurston.

Private Donations, Austin Safari Club, Zachary Ranch, 7/1/90 - 7/1/91. "Successful Reintroduction of Game Species: Social Cohesion".

National Park Service, 04/01/89 - 04/ 01/91. "Behavior of High Risk Mountain Lions in Big Bend National Park".

Welder Wildlife Foundation, 11/01/88-12/31/89. "Female Behavior of Attwater's Prairie Chicken". With M. DiMare, N. Silvy.

Faculty Mini-grant Program. 4/1/98-10/1/98 "Enhanced Grantsmanship in Animal Behavior".

NIH Biomedical Research Support Grant, 04/01/87 - 03/31/88. "Post-partum Ovulation in Tayassu tajacu".

Expanded Research Award, Texas A&M University, 09/01/87 - 03/31/89. "Deer Movement Relative to Habitat Patches". With W. Holloway, K. Risenhoover.

National Rifle Association of America, 01/01/87 - 12/31/87. "Lactation and Reproduction in Collared Peccaries". With K. Babbitt.

Subcontract, University of Florida, 01/01/85 - 01/08/85. "Manatee Population Index and Mark/Recovery Methodology".

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 09/01/82 - 08/31/85. "Manatee Population Index and Mark/Recovery Methodology". With R. Gregory, Florida Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 09/01/80 - 09/01/81. "Distribution and Habitat of Manatees in Hobe Sound, Forida".

Other: Service

The Summerlee Foundation. 1/1/97-12/31/99 "Evaluating and Using the Captive Wildlife Facilities Database".

Minigrant, Texas A&M University, 7/1/89 - 9/1/89. "Validating Isotope Dilution Estimates of Body Condition".

Mini-Grant, Texas A&M University, 09/02/85. "Participation in 4th International Theriological Congress".


© 2007 TAMU | Site Map | Contact Director | Home | Page Updated/Reviewed: 05/19/2007 10:20 AM