ArticlePDF Available
Conflation of Values and Science: Response
to Noss et al.
Habitat Program, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA 98501, U.S.A., email
†Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Box 90328, Durham, NC 27708-0328, U.S.A.
‡Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences, College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-1136, U.S.A.
§College of Law, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, U.S.A.
∗∗Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Moscow, ID 83844, U.S.A.
As conservation professionals who value natural land-
scapes for the many benefits they provide, we whole-
heartedly agree with nearly all the advice offered by Noss
et al. (2012). They encourage conservation profession-
als to work toward maintaining or restoring connectivity
across large landscapes; to focus attention on the greatest
threat to biological diversity, namely land-use change in
response to human population growth; to demonstrate
the value of nature to humans; and to popularize the idea
that continental-level conservation can be achieved. We
encourage conservation scientists who share the beliefs
implicit in Noss et al.’s advice to direct effort toward
these worthwhile activities.
We are troubled, however, by Noss et al.’s misleading
conflation of value-based judgments and scientific judg-
ments. Specifically, we find fault with the main arguments
that Noss et al. offer to support their target of protecting
at least 50% of a region to meet goals for conserving bi-
ological diversity. They say this target is based on “best
available science...the research and expert opinion of
scientists...scientific studies and reviews” and “a strict
scientific point of view.” These statements are deceptive
because all conservation targets are ultimately based on
normative value judgments (Svancara et al. 2005; Wilhere
Conservation assessments, such as those cited in Noss
et al., use empirical data and usually employ site-selection
algorithms, population viability analysis, or both. They
produce evidence-based, scientific results for particular
conservation goals or objectives, such as the level of rep-
resentation for each species or an acceptable level of ex-
tinction risk, which are personal value-based judgments.
Paper submitted March 20, 2012; revised manuscript accepted May 12, 2012.
Noss et al. (2002), for example, state that their objectives
were those they “felt comfortable with,” apparently re-
flecting their feelings about acceptable levels of species
representation, extinction risk, and ecosystem resiliency.
Noss et al. (2012) fail to articulate the values-based judg-
ments at the root of all the research, studies, and reviews
they cite.
Noss et al. acknowledge the value-based nature of
conservation targets in their opening paragraph: “Ambi-
tious targets are often considered radical and value laden,
whereas modest targets are ostensibly more objective and
reasonable. The personal values of experts are impossible
to escape in either case.” But, they appear to lose sight
of the fundamental role of values in the remainder of
their editorial. Conservation biology is a mission-driven
discipline—a mission rooted in values. The Society for
Conservation Biology’s own compendium of conserva-
tion biology principles (Trombulak et al. 2004) states:
“We specifically acknowledge that a significant number
of the principles of conservation biology as presented
here are not simply empirical facts or theoretical pre-
dictions, but are desired outcomes based on value-laden
beliefs.” Conservation targets are based on value-laden
Value-laden beliefs are at odds with the conventional
role of scientists in the policy arena: to provide policy
makers with data, objective analyses, and unbiased in-
terpretations of both. Those are the typical expectations
of policy makers and the public, postpositivist critiques
of science notwithstanding. Science has been called
“the American faith” (Doremus 1997); consequently, the
public’s expectations of scientists, although somewhat
Conservation Biology, Volume 26, No. 5, 943–944
2012 Society for Conservation Biology
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01900.x
944 Conflation of Values and Science
diminished over the past 15 years (see polling results
below), still bestow scientists with singular power. The
public’s trust in science and scientists depends, in part,
on the public’s confidence that scientists are not merely
pursuing their own private agendas, but are providing
unbiased expertise that usefully informs public policy
making. Scientists who indiscriminately mix values with
science betray that trust.
Conservation biologists face a dilemma—How does a
scientist remain “objective” within a discipline rooted in
values? We offer the following advice. First, make the
role of normative values explicit and utterly transparent
(Maguire 1996). When values are an integral part of your
work, clearly articulate those values and the role they
played. Neglecting to do so may result in inadvertent pol-
icy advocacy that damages the policy-making process and
may erode the public’s trust in scientists (Wilhere 2012).
Second, when providing scientific information, do so in
a policy-neutral manner. For example, scientists could
evaluate multiple policy options, each reflecting differ-
ent value-based goals, by analyzing and comparing their
ecological, economic, and social consequences. This is
not a novel approach (e.g., Forest Ecosystem Manage-
ment Assessment Team 1993), but it is rarely attempted
outside the confines of government agencies (but see
Nelson et al. 2009). We believe articulating the role of
normative values and providing scientific information in
a policy-neutral manner should be adopted by all conser-
vation scientists, whether working in academia, for non-
governmental organizations, for government agencies, or
as advisers to policy makers. With this approach, conser-
vation scientists can avoid being perceived as just another
advocacy group.
Bolder conservation targets might be necessary to save
biological diversity as Noss et al. suggest, but targets alone
are insufficient. Before regional conservation targets can
be implemented, they must be subjected to a political
process and receive society’s sanction. Therefore, an
equally important issue is how we as conservation sci-
entists can more effectively inform the ongoing political
discourse regarding conservation of biological diversity
(Scott et al. 2008). Simply asserting bolder conservation
targets in the manner of Noss et al. could be counterpro-
ductive; polling results indicate that 4 in 10 people in
the United States have little or no trust in what scientists
say about the environment (Cohen & Agiesta 2009). We
believe society, biological diversity, and the reputation
of conservation biologists would be better served by sci-
entists who work with politicians, government officials,
advocacy groups, and citizens to identify policy-relevant
questions and provide them with accessible, understand-
able, policy-neutral scientific information that documents
the consequences for biological diversity of different pol-
icy options or management actions.
Scientists do not establish environmental policy. Citi-
zens (including scientists) operating collectively through
political systems do. We believe that well-informed, de-
liberative democratic processes are the most likely av-
enue to achieving rationale, equitable, and enduring
political solutions to environmental problems. Conser-
vation professionals should strive to make conservation
science more useful to those processes. This can be
accomplished, in part, by answering management- and
policy-relevant questions (Fleishman et al. 2011) in ways
that do not betray the public’s trust in scientists. We agree
with Noss et al. that scientists should help change the po-
litical reality, but we have a different vision for how to
do that.
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Conservation Biology
Volume 26, No. 5, 2012
... The foremost problem with an emphasis on notions of quantified targets, and specific water requirements as a framework for evidence-based environmental water management is not a lack of knowledge but rather the tendency for subjective, socio-economic, cultural and political values to be conflated with scientific knowledge whilst being presented as existing solely in the realm of the latter (sensu Wilhere et al. 2012). As such, the concept of EWRs is susceptible to the "How-Much-Is-Enough Myth", succinctly described by Wilhere (2008) as -"the erroneous idea that the amount of conservation necessary for the survival of species or the integrity of ecosystems can be determined through objective, evidence-based science". ...
... It is this latter step, however, that is problematic for the current EWR-focused paradigm via which ecological science informs water management because the environmental objectives for which EWRs are requested lack the necessary specificity that determination of such enumerated requirements demands. Consequently, the definition of objectives and targets for which EWRs are developed unintentionally privileges the values tacitly expressed by the dominant paradigm of the scientists and/or managers thus engaged (Wilhere et al. 2012). Furthermore, we assert that the heterogeneous and dynamic nature of the Basin, as well as the many and diverse ways in which people value its ecosystems and biodiversity, actually prohibit the definition of ecological objectives in sufficient detail to allow the development of scientifically objective EWRs that do not involve significant value judgements. ...
... The definition of a successful waterbird breeding event, for example, may be based upon knowledge of the size of historic events, reflecting an unstated value that maintenance of known historic breeding event sizes is an appropriate management target for the future. Consequently, quantification of EWRs suffers from a "conflation of values and science" (sensu Wilhere et al. 2012) whereby targets for EWRs, either explicitly or implicitly stated, are presented as being based on objective, scientific evidence but actually embody significant value judgements. ...
The concept of environmental water requirements (EWRs) is central to Australia’s present approach to water reform. Current decision-making regarding environmental water relies strongly on the notion that EWRs necessary to meet targets associated with ecological objectives for asset sites can be scientifically defined, thus enabling the ecological outcomes of alternative water management scenarios to be evaluated in a relatively straightforward fashion in relation to these flow thresholds or targets. We argue, however, that the ecological objectives and targets currently underpinning the development of EWRs in the Murray-Darling Basin are insufficient to permit the identification of exact water requirements or flow thresholds. Because of the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of the Murray-Darling Basin and the myriad ways in which it is valued by people, we also assert that it is unlikely that adequate ecological objectives and targets from which to determine EWRs could ever be formulated. We suggest that the current emphasis on the concept of EWRs in environmental water planning conflates science and values, perpetuating a “how much is enough?” myth whereby the significance of the social, cultural and political dimension in environmental decision-making is diminished. We support an alternative paradigm in which the contribution of ecological science to water policy and management decisions focuses on understanding ecological responses of water-dependent ecosystems and their biota to alternative management scenarios and linking these responses to the ecosystem services and human values which they support.
... Wilhere (2011) discussed "inadvertent advocacy," when experts unconsciously advocate for a specific policy. To address this, Wilhere (2011) and Wilhere et al., (2012) recommend that experts spend more effort identifying and separating their "ethical" judgments from their "scientific" judgments. Our work provides a framework for making such a distinction between different judgments of risk and uncertainty. ...
... By identifying the heuristics and subjective judgments within an expert's decision about a scientific issue (such as endangered species listings) experts can increase the transparency of the decision making and policy process. Wilhere (2012) contends that when experts make policy choices without acknowledging and explaining underlying value judgments, they engage in 'inadvertent advocacy'. He specifically notes that endangered species listing and recovery planning are particularly vulnerable to inadvertent advocacy. ...
... He specifically notes that endangered species listing and recovery planning are particularly vulnerable to inadvertent advocacy. Such advocacy can erode public trust both in science and scientists (Wilhere 2012). His proposed remedy is rooted in awareness and self-reflection. ...
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... While serious concerns have been raised about potential economic, social, and ethical problems of Half Earth, few concerns about the science of Half Earth appear in the scientific literature (but see Wiersma et al., 2017;Wilhere et al., 2012). In fact, several statements in the peer-reviewed literature imply that Half Earth (i.e., protecting at least 50% of Earth's land area is necessary to conserve global biodiversity) is settled science: "the science is that nature needs about half" (Locke, 2013); "reviews of conservation plans by Pressey and colleagues [2003] and Noss and colleagues [2012] demonstrated a scientific basis for a 50% protection target" (Dinerstein et al., 2017); "conservation biologists agree that to maintain viable populations of most of Earth's remaining species, we will need to protect c. 50% of landscapes" (Cafaro et al., 2017); "several efforts have identified a middle ground of 50% protected to ensure conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services" (Dinerstein et al., 2019); and "the call for 50 per cent of the Earth is. ...
... In other words, decisions about ecological objectives often require balancing trade-offs with conflicting economic and social objectives. Likewise, establishing objectives for ecosystem types, ecological processes, or landscape resiliency requires normative judgments that are rooted in human values (Wilhere, 2008;Wilhere et al., 2012). ...
Maintaining or restoring at least 50% of Earth’s land area as intact, natural ecosystems has been proposed as a solution to the world’s current biodiversity crisis. Several recent papers published in peer-reviewed journals claim that this proposal, widely known as Half Earth, is supported by science. I present a detailed review of the current state of the science “supporting” Half Earth to show that our current lack of knowledge regarding its potential ecological effects preclude rational, evidence-based judgments about Half Earth. Before it can be adopted through intergovernmental agreement, the science supporting Half Earth should be vetted through an IPCC-like organization. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has an institutional framework that can provide IPCC-like science, and it should assess the potential effects of Half Earth and other global biodiversity conservation strategies. Specifically, the IPBES could assess and summarize for policymakers what is currently known about: (1) the amount of protected area (relative to ecoregion area) needed to achieve different biodiversity conservation objectives; (2) effectiveness and efficiency of protected areas relative to other conservation strategies; (3) likelihood of different land-area targets and other strategies successfully achieving conservation objectives; (4) feasibility and relative costs of different protected land-area targets versus other strategies, and (5) plausible economic and social impacts of different land-area targets and other global conservation strategies.
... Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) policy in the USA has been subject to repeated debate about biased scientific communications and embedded value judgments influenced by laws (Carroll et al., 2012;Wilhere, 2012;Wilhere et al., 2012;Peery et al., 2019;Rohlf, 2019). Simplifying the 2012 debate somewhat, Wilhere et al. (2012) criticized the scientific peer reviewers contracted by the US government under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for not transparently explaining where the science began and ended. ...
... Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) policy in the USA has been subject to repeated debate about biased scientific communications and embedded value judgments influenced by laws (Carroll et al., 2012;Wilhere, 2012;Wilhere et al., 2012;Peery et al., 2019;Rohlf, 2019). Simplifying the 2012 debate somewhat, Wilhere et al. (2012) criticized the scientific peer reviewers contracted by the US government under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for not transparently explaining where the science began and ended. Wilhere et al. suggested that the scientists did not separate facts, whether measurements of the current status or inferences about future conditions of the owls under hypothetical policy scenarios, from the value judgments that must underlie recommendations to the US government. ...
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... It isn't even past." Current participants in the co-production of science, institutions, and wildlife and land management policy in the Pacific Northwest are engaged in struggles that are a continuation of those analyzed here and that are conducted in many of the same terms (see, e.g., Wilhere, 2012;Wilhere et al., 2012). Second, current participants in the co-production of science, institutions, and wildlife and land management policy in other regions in the United States-particularly in Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, and the Southeast, where ecosystem management was strongly influenced by this case-will find that their experience echoes that analyzed here ( Swedlow, 2002a). ...
... These targets aim to achieve representation of the full suite of biodiversity in a region. It is clear, however, that there is a great deal of uncertainty in the literature as to what an appropriate target value should be , Wilhere et al. 2012. It is likely that there is no universally-applicable percentage target to indicate how much The Forestry Chronicle Downloaded from ...
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... This means that decisions will have to be made regarding wise allocation of funds towards specific conservation actions that prioritize some populations, sites, or species over others (Bottrill et al. 2008). Primate researchers can play a key role in this endeavour by providing the quantitative information necessary to conduct prioritizations and by contributing their expertise to more subjective discussions (Wilhere et al. 2012;Game et al. 2013). ...
We make several recommendations for how future research activity could make meaningful contributions to primate conservation. We discuss how additional field studies are needed to fill gaps in our taxonomic and geographic knowledge, encourage behavioral research with conservation applications, and advocate additional investigation of primates inhabiting marginal habitats and living outside protected areas. We also describe how climate change research could be expanded and made more sophisticated, and discuss the conservation benefits of work that assesses and publicizes the economic value of ecosystem services provided by primates. We discuss conservation prioritization and note that primatologists could provide expertise that informs the efficient allocation of conservation funds. Finally, we discuss how primate conservation might be improved through greater embracement of interdisciplinary, more widespread appreciation of applied research, and increased engagement outside academia.
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We conducted a systematic conservation assessment of the 10.8-million-ha Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), integrating three basic approaches to conservation planning: protecting special elements, representing environmental variation, and securing habitat for focal species (grizzly bear [ Ursus arctos], wolf [Canis lupus], and wolverine [Gulo gulo]). Existing protected areas encompass 27% of the GYE but fail to capture many biological hotspots of the region or to represent all natural communities. Using a simulated annealing site-selection algorithm, combined with biological and environmental data based on a geographic information system and static ( habitat suitability) and dynamic ( population viability) modeling of focal species, we identified unprotected sites within the GYE that are biologically irreplaceable and vulnerable to degradation. Irreplaceability scores were assigned to 43 megasites (aggregations of planning units) on the basis of nine criteria corresponding to quantitative conservation goals. Expert opinion supplemented quantitative data in determining vulnerability scores. If all megasites were protected, the reserved area of the GYE would expand by 43% (to 70%) and increase protection of known occurrences of highly imperiled species by 71% (to 100%) and of all special elements by 62% (to 92%). These new reserves would also significantly increase representation of environmental variation and capture critical areas for focal species. The greatest gains would be achieved by protecting megasites scoring highest in irreplaceability and vulnerability. Protection of 15 high-priority megasites would expand reserved area by 22% and increase the overall achievement of goals by 30%. Protection of highly imperiled species and representation of geoclimatic classes would increase by 46% and 49%, respectively. Although conservation action must be somewhat opportunistic, our method aids decision-making by identifying areas that will contribute the most to explicit conservation goals. Resumen: Realizamos una evaluación sistemática de conservación de las 10.8 millones de Ha del Ecosistema Mayor de Yellowstone (GYE), empleando las tres rutas de protección de los elementos especiales, la representación de la variación ambiental y asegurando hábitat para especies focales (el oso grizzli [ Ursus arctos], el lobo [Canis lupus], y el carcayú glotón [Gulo gulo]). Las áreas protegidas abarcan 27% del GYE pero no logran capturar muchas áreas prioritarias para la conservación de la región ni representar a todas las comunidades naturales. Usando un algoritmo simulado de selección de sitio, combinado con datos biológicos y ambientales basados en GIS y empleando el modelado estático (aptitud del hábitat) y dinámico (viabilidad poblacional) de especies focales, identificamos sitios desprotegidos dentro del GYE que son biológicamente irreemplazabilidad y vulnerables a la degradación. Se asignaron puntajes de irreemplazabilidad a 43 megasitios (agregaciones de unidades de planeación) en base a nueve criterios correspondientes a las metas cuantitativas de conservación. Si todos los megasitios fueran protegidos, el área reserva del GYE se expandiría en un 43% (a 70%) e incrementaría la protección de ocurrencias conocidas de especies altamente en peligro en un 62% (a 92%). Estas nuevas reservas también incrementarían significativamente la representación de la variación ambiental y capturarían áreas críticas para especies focales. Las mayores ganancias se obtendrían mediante la protección de megasitios con los puntajes más altos de irreemplazabilidad y vulnerabilidad. La protección de 15 megasitios altamente prioritarios expandiría el área de reserva en un 22% e incrementaría el éxito general de las metas en un 30%. La protección de especies altamente en peligro y la representación de clases geoclimáticas podría incrementar en un 46% y un 49% respectivamente. A pesar de que la acción de conservación debe ser de alguna manera oportunista, nuestro método ayuda a la toma de decisiones al identificar áreas que contribuirán más a explicar las metas de conservación.
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To maximize the utility of research to decisionmaking, especially given limited financial resources, scientists must set priorities for their efforts. We present a list of the top 40 high-priority, multidisciplinary research questions directed toward informing some of the most important current and future decisions about management of species, communities, and ecological processes in the United States. The questions were generated by an open, inclusive process that included personal interviews with decisionmakers, broad solicitation of research needs from scientists and policymakers, and an intensive workshop that included scientifically oriented individuals responsible for managing and developing policy related to natural resources. The process differed from previous efforts to set priorities for conservation research in its focus on the engagement of decisionmakers in addition to researchers. The research priorities emphasized the importance of addressing societal context and exploration of trade-offs among alternative policies and actions, as well as more traditional questions related to ecological processes and functions.
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Scientists and their professional societies are seeking to increase their influence in shaping policy decisions. A recent call for natural resource professional societies to endorse position statements on economic growth raises questions about how scientific societies can and should effectively contribute to policy development. Taking a stand on policy issues is akin to serving as a policy advocate. We believe that natural resource professionals can most constructively contribute to policy development by conducting rigorous research that is policy relevant and by effectively conveying the results and policy implications of that research to all parties interested in the issue. By actively engaging decision-makers and providing information on pressing policy issues, professional societies can increase opportunities to be recognized as sources for reliable, unbiased information about natural resources and their management.
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We live in a world of diminished ecological diversity. We extract energy, materials, and organisms from nature and modify landscapes at rates that cannot be sustained. These activities have resulted in accelerated rates of extinction, degradation, and loss of ecosystems, and disruption of the natural systems in which our cultures are embedded. The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) believes that conservation education is a necessary step toward correcting these problems. Its stated goals and objectives include “the education, at all levels, preparatory and continuing, of the public, of biologists, and of managers in the principles of conservation biology.” What are these principles? What are the central concepts and values that underlie the professional interpretation of the field of conservation biology, an understanding of which represents what could be called “conservation literacy?” Although there have been occasional spotlights on education in the literature of conservation biology ( Jacobson & Hardesty 1988; Fleischner 1990; Orr 1992, 1994; Trombulak 1993), no consensus has emerged on essential guiding principles. Here we attempt to provide a framework for such guidelines. This document is the result of a longterm project carried out by the Education Committee of the SCB. The principles we present here emerge from the large body of research in ecology and genetics, from the practice of conservation over the last century, and from a variety of emerging interdisciplinary perspectives in the social sciences. Thorough overviews of the theoretical and empirical bases for these guidelines have been given by Meffe and Carroll (1997), Massa and Ingegnoli (1999), Garcia (2002), Primack (2002), and Hunter (2002). Here we aim to describe the body of knowledge that we view as the hallmark of conservation literacy rather than to prescribe what any particular individual ought to achieve. It is our expectation that these principles will serve different purposes for different audiences.
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SHOULD CONSERVATION TARGETS, such as the proportion of a region to be placed in protected areas, be socially acceptable from the start? Or should they be based unapologetically on the best available science and expert opinion, then address issues of practicality later? Such questions strike to the philosophical core of conservation. Ambitious targets are often considered radical and value laden, whereas modest targets are ostensibly more objective and reasonable. The personal values of experts are impossible to escape in either case. Conservation professionals of a biocentric bent might indeed err on the side of protecting too much. Anthropocentric bias, however, more commonly affects target setting. The pro-growth norms of global society foster timidity among conservation professionals, steering them toward conformity with the global economic agenda and away from acknowledging what is ultimately needed to sustain life on Earth.
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How much is enough? is a question that conservationists, scientists, and policymakers have struggled with for years in conservation planning. To answer this question, and to ensure the long-term protection of biodiversity, many have sought to establish quantitative targets or goals based on the percentage of area in a country or region that is conserved. In recent years, policy-driven targets have frequently been faulted for their lack of biological foundation. lit this manuscript, we reviewed 159 articles reporting or proposing 222 conservation targets and assessed differences between policy-driven and evidence-based approaches. Our findings suggest that the average percentages of area recommended for evidence-based targets were nearly three times as high as those recommended in policy-driven approaches. Implementing a minimalist, policy-driven approach to conservation could result in unanticipated decreases in species numbers and increases in the number of endangered species.
Nature provides a wide range of benefits to people. There is increasing consensus about the importance of incorporating these “ecosystem services” into resource management decisions, but quantifying the levels and values of these services has proven difficult. We use a spatially explicit modeling tool, Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST), to predict changes in ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, and commodity production levels. We apply InVEST to stakeholder-defined scenarios of land-use/land-cover change in the Willamette Basin, Oregon. We found that scenarios that received high scores for a variety of ecosystem services also had high scores for biodiversity, suggesting there is little tradeoff between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. Scenarios involving more development had higher commodity production values, but lower levels of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. However, including payments for carbon sequestration alleviates this tradeoff. Quantifying ecosystem services in a spatially explicit manner, and analyzing tradeoffs between them, can help to make natural resource decisions more effective, efficient, and defensible.
Policy advocacy is an issue regularly debated among conservation scientists. These debates have focused on intentional policy advocacy by scientists, but advocacy can also be unintentional. I define inadvertent policy advocacy as the act of unintentionally expressing personal policy preferences or ethical judgments in a way that is nearly indistinguishable from scientific judgments. A scientist may be well intentioned and intellectually honest but still inadvertently engage in policy advocacy. There are two ways to inadvertently engage in policy advocacy. First, a scientist expresses an opinion that she or he believes is a scientific judgment but it is actually an ethical judgment or personal policy preference. Second, a scientist expresses an opinion that he or she knows is an ethical judgment or personal policy preference but inadvertently fails to effectively communicate the nature of the opinion to policy makers or the public. I illustrate inadvertent advocacy with three examples: recovery criteria in recovery plans for species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a scientific peer review of a recovery plan for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's definition of threatened. In each example, scientists expressed ethical judgments or policy preferences, but their value judgments were not identified as such, and, hence, their value judgments were opaque to policy makers and the public. Circumstances suggest their advocacy was inadvertent. I believe conservation scientists must become acutely aware of the line between science and policy and avoid inadvertent policy advocacy because it is professional negligence, erodes trust in scientists and science, and perpetuates an ethical vacuum that undermines the rational political discourse necessary for the evolution of society's values. The principal remedy for inadvertent advocacy is education of conservation scientists in an effort to help them understand how science and values interact to fulfill the mission of conservation science.