Navigating the Space between Research and Implementation in Conservation

Anne H. Toomey, Andrew T. Knight, Jos Barlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

110 Citations (Scopus)


Recent scholarship in conservation biology has pointed to the existence of a “research-implementation” gap and has proposed various solutions for overcoming it. Some of these solutions, such as evidence-based conservation, are based on the assumption that the gap exists primarily because of a communication problem in getting reliable and needed technical information to decision makers. First, we identify conceptual weaknesses with this framing, supporting our arguments with decades of research in other fields of study. We then reconceptualize the gap as a series of crucial, productive spaces in which shared interests, value conflicts, and complex relations between scientists and publics can interact. Whereas synonyms for “gap” include words such as “chasm,” “rift,” or “breach,” the word “space” is connected with words such as “arena,” “capacity,” and “place” and points to who and what already exists in a specific context. Finally, we offer ways forward for applying this new understanding in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-625
Number of pages7
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


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