Defining and using best available science: A policy conundrum for the management of aquatic ecosystems

D.S. Ryder, M. Tomlinson, B. Gawne, G.E. Likens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Integrative research has been the dominant theme in this Special Issue, demonstrated by contemporary examples of effective collaborations and solutions for the successful engagement of scientists in the policy and management arena. Evident in these papers is the increasing use of the term ‘best available science’ (BAS) as a basis for well-informed resource management decisions. The term is used to engender credibility and trust among stakeholders and promotes greater awareness, communication, involvement, transparency and understanding among research, policy and management communities. However, there remains no clear statement of the properties of BAS or guidance on its practical application in the decision-making process. We define the attributes that underpin BAS and examine the issues of uncertainty, risk and communication as key challenges to successful integrative management. We advocate an interdisciplinary process that facilitates understanding of discipline-based knowledge structures, articulates uncertainty and risk about the scientific information, and promotes engagement and trust among the generators and users of information. Ultimately, successful management of aquatic ecosystems will rely on scientists, managers and decision makers who have the skills and courage to apply the best science available and not wait for the best science possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-828
Number of pages8
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Defining and using best available science: A policy conundrum for the management of aquatic ecosystems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this