Core Element 7: Adaptive Management

Practitioners of ecosystem-based management (EBM) use scientific monitoring data to measure the effects of management decisions. As conditions change and new information becomes available, they evaluate management strategies and adapt them as needed to reach EBM goals.

Focus Questions

  • How can monitoring be used to measure the outcomes of management in terms of net gain or loss of nature's services?
  • How can policy and management take into account changing conditions and new scientific information?
  • Does monitoring show that acceptable progress is being made toward EBM goals? If not, how can policy and management be improved?

Learn More

Listed below are selected resources for learning about and implementing this Core Element of EBM. The list is far from comprehensive and highlights only a few especially useful examples.


Chapter 6: Monitoring, Evaluation, and Adaptive Management in Science Tools to Implement Ecosystem-Based Management in Massachusetts
MRAG Americas, Inc., and Massachusetts Ocean Partnership

Appendix C: Suggested Indicators within the DPSIR Framework in Science Tools to Implement Ecosystem-Based Management in Massachusetts
MRAG Americas, Inc., and Massachusetts Ocean Partnership

Chapter 4: Accountability and Adaptive Management in Ocean and Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management: Implementation Handbook
By Kathryn Mengerink, Adam Schempp, and Jay Austin (Environmental Law Institute)

By Daniel S. Holland, James N. Sanchirico, Robert J. Johnston and Deepak Joglekar

Case Studies

Marine Ecosystem-based Management in Practice: Scientific and Governance Challenges (PDF)
Ruckelshaus, M et al. 2008. BioScience 58:53-63

Channel Islands Marine Protected Areas: First 5 Years of Monitoring 2003-2008
The State of California is conducting a comprehensive program of biological and socioeconomic monitoring to provide information for adaptive management.


Adaptive Management in Environmental Valuation: Principles, Techniques, and Applications
NOAA Coastal Services Center

Nonmarket Valuation
Nonmarket valuation is a method to estimate the value of goods and services that are not commonly bought and sold in markets. 


Miradi: Adaptive Management Software for Conservation Projects
Miradi is a user-friendly program that allows nature conservation practitioners to design, manage, monitor, and learn from their projects to more effectively meet their conservation goals.

Connection with other Core Elements (CEs) of EBM

CE1:Nature's Services
In EBM, the focus of adaptive management is to sustain nature's services.

CE2:Scientific Evidence
Scientific evidence is needed to monitor outcomes of management actions and to provide information for adaptive management.

CE4:Ecological Linkages, CE5:Cumulative Impacts
Adaptive management seeks to continually improve understanding of and to respond to changes associated with ecological linkages and cumulative impacts.

CE8:Network of People and Information
Sharing of information among people engaged in EBM is essential for adaptive management.


Read about Core Element 8: Network of People and Information