Wildlife-based recreation and experiences

Using individuals that engage in outdoor activities, like fishing,  hunting, or foraging activities as a research model provides considerable insight into social-ecological systems.  These  social-ecological systems illustrate the direct and indirect interaction between humans and ecological factors, as well as the feedbacks between them. We are interested in investigating and developing a greater understanding of the processes, associated thresholds, and feedback mechanisms between people and the natural world at varying spatial and temporal scales. A greater understanding of people and their motivations, as well as the effect they have on the ecosystem is needed to increase our understanding of these dynamic relationships.

We are increasingly aware that the influence of human exploitation of natural systems extends beyond a direct interaction with the species targeted. Network models of anglers and species caught indicate that most anglers catch species not being sought, which is strongly influenced by whether the angler fishes from a boat or bank and the size of the waterbody.  Further, traditional exploitation models used in wildlife and fishery management fail to account for non-consumptive effects of human-mediated disturbance. Assessments of habitat decisions by pheasants at multiple scales in response to spatial and temporal variation in recreational hunting activity indicate that male pheasants subjected to hunting (both a fear response and mortality) and females (only a fear response) expanded and moved their home ranges in response to hunting pressure.

Our lab seeks to understand and quantify the inter-relationships between the social and ecological systems.  We use a wide variety of approaches to invesitigate the complex and dynamic relationships that exist within the wildlife-based recreation model.