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Adapting social science tools for wildlife research


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Applying social science approaches to conservation research is growing in popularity, but as wildlife biologists step outside their quantitative world, they can find themselves wandering unfamiliar territory. Nibedita Mukherjee, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter and visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge, found that out herself. For her doctoral thesis at the University of Exeter, she applied a social science method called the Delphi technique — an expert consultation method that originated from Cold War bombing calculations — to wildlife biology. But she discovered she had few guidelines to follow. “We are taught to count birds and trees in the field, so inadvertently we may be trying to do a natural science version of social science, and that leads to the improper application of techniques or bad reporting,” Mukherjee said. That’s why she and an international group of peers started compiling papers that could help make social science application easier and more effective for conservation scientists. From her own research, Mukherjee said, she saw the role that qualitative social science methods could play in ecology and conservation, but wildlife biologists could use some guidance in putting them to work. “Many of us are transitioning into interdisciplinary research [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/adapting-social-science-tools-for-wildlife-research/

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