• Developing communication tools for resource management in western Alaska: an evaluation of the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative coastal projects database

      Warner, Nicole; Trainor, Sarah; Greenburg, Joshua; Fix, Peter (2017)
      Science communication is an essential component in decision-making for resource management in Alaska. This field aids in bridging knowledge gaps between scientists and diverse stakeholders. In 2014, the Western Alaska LCC developed a database cataloging the current coastal change projects in order to facilitate collaboration amongst researchers, managers, and the surrounding communities. In order to better inform similar outreach projects in other LCC regions, this MNRM project entailed an evaluation of this database between April and September 2016 and comprised a ten-question phone interview with the database participants and other involved personnel. Results from this evaluation can help refine the database to better suit its users' needs in the future, and it can also inform the creation of similar tools in other LCC regions. This project evaluated the use and usability of the Western Alaska LCC Coastal Change Database. First, I review coastal change and its impacts on Western Alaska. Next, I explore how institutions can respond to these changes and what resources they can use, including decision-support tools. I then provide examples of different decision-support tools (both in academic literature and in Alaskan projects) and discuss methodologies for evaluating their use. Interview results are then reported. The evaluation of the WALCC Coastal Change Database indicated that the tool was mostly used to enhance general understanding of the research occurring in the region. Respondents were less likely to use it for time-intensive tasks such as collaboration. Respondents also indicated that a place exists for tools like this database to flourish, but they need 1) persistent outreach, 2) a dynamic design, and 3) immediate benefits for users' time. In the future, regular updates and frequent outreach could improve the database's usability and help maintain its credibility.