Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Georgia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Georgia Project

Completing a Double-Loop Learning Cycle in the Native Prairie Adaptive Management System

July 2018 - December 2019


Participating Agencies

  • US FWS, Region 6, National Wildlife Refuge System

Under the Native Prairie Adaptive Management (NPAM) program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, land managers in the National Wildlife Refuge System in Regions 3 and 6 receive annual habitat management guidance for the goal of restoring prairies to desired composition levels of native grasses and forbs. While this operational adaptive management program has successfully provided guidance through nine decision cycles, longstanding concern about the use of expert-elicited quantities in the predictive models has not abated among the managers and the developers of the program, and the concern has prompted a comprehensive “double-loop” evaluation of the framework elements. This research will produce models for decision guidance that conform more closely with the system responses observed to date, leading to better management performance. Examples of operational adaptive management systems are rare, and examples of double-loop learning are rarer still, so this research will provide a durable and transferable demonstration of this concept. This research is conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Georgia, and USGS. The models supporting the decision framework were employed in time for the August 2019 decision cycle. Management recommendations provided to cooperators at that time reflected the improved decision guidance.