Recreation Ecology Lab

Overview: Our Goals and Philosophy

We work to understand the ecological and social consequences of outdoor recreation and tourism in parks and protected areas. The things we discover help people to enjoy and protect natural areas. We are interested in both the theory and practice of outdoor recreation and tourism management, and in sharing what we learn.


Mountain lake

Rock climber


We approach research projects from an interdisciplinary perspective, using ecological and social science to address questions such as:

  • How do recreation activities affect ecosystems -- particularly soil, plants and wildlife?
  • What are the tolerance limits of ecosystems to various park conditions? When do changing conditions affect how visitors enjoy these places?
  • What trends are occurring in natural areas? Are management actions working to address them?
  • Do visitors in natural areas notice resource impacts? Do these conditions affect their experience?
  • How do people move around in natural settings? Can their actions be managed to improve their experience and minimize ecological impact?