First published in 1986, the author challenges the traditional approach to dealing with uncertainty in the management of such renewable resources as fish and wildlife. He argues that scientific understanding will come from the experience of management as an ongoing, adaptive and experimental process, rather than through basic research or the development of ecological theory.
In the opening chapters, Walters reviews approaches to formulating management objectives as well as models for understanding how policy choices affect the attainment of these objectives. In subsequent chapters, he presents various statistical methods for understanding the dynamics of uncertainty in managed fish and wildlife populations and for seeking optimum harvest policies. The author concludes with a look at the prospects for adaptive management of complex systems, emphasizing such human factors involved in decision making as risk aversion and conflicting objectives as well as biophysical factors.
Throughout the text, he uses dynamic models and Bayesian statistical theory as tolls for understanding the behavior of managed systems and he illustrates these tools with simple graphs and plots of data from representative cases.