study of issues identified by managers or the public. The opposite is true. If the GEM program has a broad scientific foundation, then short-term issues of public concern can be addressed as elements in this broad construct. Even more important, a sound scientific framework would make it much more likely that the GEM program will collect the most useful and important ecological information. However urgent an environmental issue might be, understanding and managing it almost always depends on scientific understanding. Thus, a soundly designed program based on a scientific conceptual foundation should not be seen as an alternative to local community and public concerns. Instead, it should be recognized as the only way to do that effectively over the long term. The committee offers the following recommendations to achieve this broad goal:

  • The science plan should include a broad conceptual foundation that is ecosystem-based. It should seek to understand natural and human-induced changes and it should be flexible to accommodate changing needs without compromising core long-term measurements.

  • The GEM science plan should articulate two or three fundamental hypotheses about the ecosystem that then should be used to guide the selection for monitoring of particular species and other physical, biological, and human aspects of the ecosystem.

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