Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Natural Resources

Major Professor

Neelam C. Poudyal

Committee Members

Lisa Muller, Donald Hodges, Robert Jones, Bruce Tonn


Wildlife management, especially projects requiring reintroduction, are complex undertakings requiring interdisciplinary approaches. This dissertation combines social science, ecology, economics, and policy to advance wildlife reintroduction science and improve conservation outcomes. The central focus of this dissertation involves wildlife reintroduction management, with a specific emphasis on the reintroduction of elk into East Tennessee. The dissertation is divided by three studies, each taking a unique interdisciplinary approach to wildlife reintroduction. The first study uses structural equation modeling to examine the social psychology constructs of risk perception and trust to examine their influence on attitudes towards reintroduced elk in Tennessee and support for continued restoration of the species. The second study takes an economic approach to examine support for elk reintroduction and continued restoration. The third chapter takes a socio-ecological systems approach to develop a framework for analyzing and managing wildlife reintroductions. The goal of this research is to take a wholistic approach to wildlife reintroduction management by studying the social and ecological systems that interplay and lead to reintroduction longevity and sustainability.

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