How Good Science and Stories Can Go Hand-In-Hand Public Deposited

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  • What do you say when you have only a minute to explain to a municipal official why keeping track of the number of bird species found in a park may help make decisions about park management? Talk of significant differences among treatments or testing theory will likely meet with glazed looks. In contrast, sharing the stories of the citizen scientists who have censused the birds year after year makes the information more personal and more salient. Stories bring conservation science to life. When one hears how Trevor Lloyd Evans, indefatigable director of bird banding at Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, awoke before dawn every morning, rain or shine, and led his team of volunteer banders in their mist‐netting surveys, as he has done every spring and fall for more than 40 years; how spring migrants arrive earlier than they used to; and how magical the day was when volunteers mist‐netted a Golden‐winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), a species not captured in over a decade, the significance of the issues, the contributions of science, and possible solutions become much clearer (Manomet Center 2012). We can explain, through Trevor's story, how assessments of ecosystem health are informed by long‐term observations and deep knowledge of natural and human history in particular places. Here, however, we focus on the complementary roles stories can play, together with science, in advancing conservation science and practice. We assert that conservation interventions that recognize the synergies between science and storytelling may achieve more substantial biological and social outcomes than those that rely on only one or the other. In our work as conservation scientists, we have observed at least 3 types of synergy between stories and science: stories convey the significance of our science (communication), stories can serve as data (scholarship), and stories illustrate how scientific knowledge can illuminate policy choices (translation). We illustrate these synergies with a story from Cabo Pulmo, a national park in Mexico's Baja California Sur.
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  • Leslie, H. M., Pollnac, R., Samhouri, J. F., Goldman, E., McLeod, K. L., Sievanen, L., . . . Lee, K. (2013). How good science and stories can go hand-in-hand. Conservation Biology : The Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 27(5), 1126-1129. doi:10.1111/cobi.12080
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  • 27
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  • 5
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  • The workshopwas facilitated by COMPASS and funding was provided byThe David and Lucile Packard Foundation through grantsto J. Lubchenco, S. Levin, and H.L.
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