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Volume 28
Number 2
Summer 2011
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Park ranger pointing out glacier landscape feature to park visitor at Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska Climate change, management decisions, and the visitor experience: The role of social science research
By Matthew T. J. Brownlee and Kirsten M. Leong
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
Toward effective decision making
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Park professionals are confronted with complex climate change scenarios that require decisions based on the best available science. Professional staffs often use field-based data to inform management decisions, and social scientists have long gathered this information. For example, the NPS Social Science Branch of the Environmental Quality Division oversees the Visitor Services Project that regularly collects basic information about visitors (e.g., visitation characteristics and history, visitor preferences, visitor demographics, and spending patterns) at many park units. As a result, park professionals have used social science information to contribute to decisions, such as facility and service improvements, site-specific visitor regulations, and information dissemination. In the context of climate change, park professionals may need more specific information about visitors’ knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, motivations, and behavior to inform approaches to visitor management, messaging, education, and outreach. In this article, we outline current and potential social science research contributions to assist park staffs in effective decision making about climate change.

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This page updated:  8 November 2011

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From the Editor
Information Crossfile
Masthead Information
Special Issue: Climate Change Science in the National Parks
Climate change impacts and carbon in U.S. national parks
Glossary: Climate change–related terms
Pikas in Peril: Multiregional vulnerability assessment of a climate-sensitive sentinel species
Pika monitoring under way in four western parks: The development of a collaborative multipark protocol
Climate change science in Everglades National Park
Sea-level rise: Observations, impacts, and proactive measures in Everglades National Park
Landscape response to climate change and its role in infrastructure protection and management at Mount Rainier National Park
Glacier trends and response to climate in Denali National Park and Preserve
  Climate change, management decisions, and the visitor experience: The role of social science research
Conserving pinnipeds in Pacific Ocean parks in response to climate change
The George Melendez Wright Climate Change Fellowship Program: Promoting innovative park science for resource management
Estimating and mitigating the impacts of climate change and air pollution on alpine plant communities in national parks
Parks use phenology to improve management and communicate climate change
Standards and tools for using phenology in science, management, and education
Hummingbird monitoring in Colorado Plateau parks
Paper birch: Sentinels of climate change in the Niobrara River Valley, Nebraska
Climate change in Great Basin National Park: Lake sediment and sensor-based studies
Long-term change in perennial vegetation along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park (1889–2010)
The distribution and abundance of a nuisance native alga, Didymosphenia geminata, in streams of Glacier National Park
Monitoring direct and indirect climate effects on whitebark pine ecosystems at Crater Lake National Park
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