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30 April 2014 A vision for an expanded role of ornithological societies in conservation
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Professional societies of biologists, including ornithological societies, have struggled to determine the appropriate way to apply the expertise of their memberships in conservation, largely because of a tension between issue advocacy and pure science. Within societies, some argue for using science to promote conservation, and others worry that such advocacy will render the science less credible in the eyes of decisionmakers. This debate excludes other important applications of science in conservation. We outline a vision for an expanded role of ornithological societies in avian conservation that includes pure science and emphasizes one of these other applications, science arbitration. Science arbitration involves evaluating the science relevant to an issue and providing the results to decisionmakers without taking a position on the outcome. We perceive a great need for science arbitration as judges, politicians, and other decisionmakers typically lack access to current, relevant scientific information in an objective form and as a result must act as their own arbiters despite a lack of appropriate expertise. The ornithological societies are in a unique position to fill this void in the area of avian conservation. We describe an additional role in which the societies may also wish to engage, Honest Broker, which is similar to Science Arbiter but also includes development of policy alternatives based on the science evaluated. We provide examples of the kinds of activities in which we envision the societies engaging, and outline a process for approaching science arbitration as the scholarly activity it should be.
Jeffrey R. Walters, Deborah M. Brosnan, J. Michael Reed and J. Michael Scott "A vision for an expanded role of ornithological societies in conservation," The Condor 116(2), (30 April 2014).
Received: 3 February 2014; Accepted: 1 February 2014; Published: 30 April 2014

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