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Citation for publication number 915:
Schwartz, Michael K., Hahn, Beth A., Hossack, Blake R. (2016). Where the Wild Things Are: A Research Agenda for Studying the Wildlife-Wilderness Relationship. Journal of Forestry. 114(3), 311-319.
Leopold Publication Number 915
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     We explore the connection between US designated wilderness areas and wildlife with the goal of establishing a research agenda for better understanding this complex relationship. Our research agenda has two components. The first, “wildlife for wilderness,” considers the impact of wildlife on wilderness character. Whereas studies show that wildlife is important in both the perception and actual enhancement of wilderness character, the context and particulars of this relationship have not been evaluated. For instance, is knowing that a rare, native species is present in a wilderness area enough to increase perceptions of naturalness (an important wilderness quality)? Or does the public need to observe the species or its sign (e.g., tracks) for this benefit? The second part of our research agenda, “wilderness for wildlife,” considers the types of research needed to understand the impact of wilderness areas on wildlife and biodiversity conservation. Several studies show the effect of one area being designated wilderness on one wildlife species. Yet, there has been no research that examines how the networks of wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) are used by a species or a community of species. Furthermore, we found no studies that focused on how the NWPS affects ecological or trophic interactions among species. We hope that by providing a research agenda, we can spur multiple lines of research on the topic of wildlife and wilderness. Management and Policy Implications: This article establishes a multiscale research agenda to help set the stage for research examining wildlife and wilderness. Our research agenda distinguishes the effects that wildlife has on wilderness character versus the impact that wilderness character has on wildlife populations, species, and communities. We consider both parts of this research agenda of equal importance. Understanding how wildlife contributes to wilderness character is essential to the legal mandate to preserve it. Managers are increasingly faced with decision tradeoffs in managing for both wildness and naturalness within wilderness through proposals such as assisted migration, wildlife reintroductions, and supplementations. Well-crafted social science can help with these policy decisions. The second prong of our research agenda examines how wilderness character affects wildlife. It encourages studies that go beyond the effect of one wilderness on one species. There has been increased perception in the policy and management arena that protection of one patch is inadequate for species protection and that management of the entire landscape matrix, across multiple jurisdictions and management plans, is critical for conservation. Our research agenda advocates research that understands the role of the network of wilderness areas in biodiversity conservation.