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2. Project Name: NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Acridogenic and Anthropogenic Hazards to the Grassland Biome Country: United States of America
Project Location within Country: Estes Park, Colorado Professional Staff Provided by your Company: Organizers and participants; authors and editors of the Proceedings 
No of Staff:
No of Man-months: 12
Name of Client: NATO Approx. Value of Services: US $55,000
Start Date (month/year): January 1998 Completion Date (month/year): September 2000
Name of associated firm(s) if any: The Orthopterists' Society No. of Man-months of professional staff provided by associated firm(s): 0.5
Name of Senior Staff (Director/Co-ordinator, Team Leader) involved and functions performed: 

Jeffrey Lockwood, AAAI, workshop organizer and senior editor of the Proceedings 
Alexandre Latchininsky, AAAI, workshop co-organizer and editor of the Proceedings 
Michael Sergeev, AAAI, workshop co-organizer and editor of the Proceedings

Detailed Narrative Description of Project:

A Novel Approach to Solving Complex Ecological Problems: An International Polylogue on the Art and Science of Applied Acridology


1 Entomology Section, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Wyoming/Association for Applied Acridology International (AAAI), USA
2 Department of General Biology, Novosibirsk State University/Association for Applied Acridology International (AAAI), Novosibirsk, Russia

(Excerpt from: Grasshoppers and Grassland Health. Managing Grasshopper Outbreaks without Risking Environmental Disaster.Kluwer Academic Publishers, September 2000. 

For every complex problem, there is a simple solution. And it is wrong.
-- H. L. Mencken

1. General Approach to Complexity 

A great deal of effort has been directed at the impact of acridids (grasshoppers and locusts, Orthoptera: Acrididae) to crops, where the pest status of these insects is unambiguous. However, the ecology and economics of the world’s grasslands make the role of these native organisms much more complex. The NATO Advanced Research Workshop on “Acridogenic and Anthropogenic Hazards to the Grassland Biome: Managing Grasshopper Outbreaks without Risking Environmental Disaster” was developed and conducted using an approach that differed markedly from the format of a standard, scientific conference.This strategy was explicitly designed to capture the diverse views held by acridologists, other scientists, and pest managers working on both rare and abundant acridids of temperate grasslands -- and then to synthesize these views into a coherent and compelling interpretation of current conditions and future needs.The approach was much more complex than the standard conference, in which formal presentations consume the majority of the time, with questions and discussions being relegated to the brief periods following each paper.Our goal was to develop an international polylogue (rather than the monologue of the formal presentation or the simple dialogue that arises between two people) from which original, creative, synthetic, and collective insights might emerge. 

2. Rationale and Design of the Workshop

To understand the approach taken in the workshop, and hence to appreciate the nature of the emergent perspectives, it is important to consider the principles and pragmatics that gave rise to this project.It is our hope that the strategy employed in this meeting might be adopted or adapted by others seeking to bring diverse, international perspectives into a common and coherent focus, particularly where the stakes are high (in terms of human suffering and environmental degradation) and we can ill-afford intellectual debates for their own sake. 


There are five, emerging global trends which provided the impetus for a workshop designed to develop collaborative and consensual understandings and recommendations for the management of grasshopper and locust outbreaks on the world’s grasslands. 

First, available evidence suggests that acridid outbreaks are severe and perhaps growing worse in grassland ecosystems. At the turn of the millennium, a major outbreak may be developing in the western USA and Canada, severe infestations continue to plague China, and one of the worst plagues in modern history is developing in Russia and Central Asia (including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan).As such, it is clear that the challenges of acridid outbreaks are not just fabulous material for historical accounts but that these events continue to confront a growing human population.Furthermore, ongoing environmental changes (e.g., warming temperatures, declining rainfall, expanding tillage, and increasing livestock) have the potential to further aggravate the conditions that give rise to acridid outbreaks. 

Next, the global understanding of the effects of humans on the environment is steadily increasing.With growing environmental concern, the traditional approaches to managing acridid outbreaks (e.g., blanket applications of broad-spectrum insecticides over immense areas) are being challenged, with their net benefits being called into question. The role of these insects in sustaining the productivity of agroecosystems is being clarified, and the impacts of our livestock grazing and pest management practices are becoming evident. The long-term changes brought about by the use of synthetic chemicals and the introduction of exotic species are now under intense scrutiny.Issues of water quality, bioaccumulation, chemical sensitivity syndromes, and food safety suggest that human health is being increasingly linked to environmental well-being. 

Third, governmental and other “external” sources of support for grasshopper and locust control are declining. Both within and between nations, the responsibility for monitoring and treating acridid populations has been dramatically decentralized for a variety of economic and political reasons.This phenomenon may be the single most important factor in defining the future direction of research and management pertaining to the control of outbreaks.With the localization of programmmes to control acridid outbreaks, site-specific, low-input pest management strategies are in high demand. 

Fourth, as the economic resources for acridid control programmes decline, so too do the human resources in the form of expertise, experience, and knowledge.While several nations had extremely productive and viable centers of acridology just a decade ago, it now appears that no single nation has the intellectual critical mass necessary to independently develop and implement new management strategies.In North America and the CIS, the number of applied acridologists has declined by at least 50% in the last 10 years.Both university and government laboratories have aggressively downsized their research and development programmes, and there appears to be no reprieve in sight. 

Finally, the loss of economic resources and human capital related to applied acridology is being offset, to some degree, by increasing international communications among scientists and managers. Where the potential for a critical mass of expertise in a single nation has all but disappeared, the quality of the remaining workers is extremely high and their willingness to share information, exchange ideas, and explore common needs has significantly increased.Organizations such as The Orthopterists’ Society and the Association for Applied Acridology International (co-sponsors of the NATO workshop) represent the best efforts of scientists and managers to develop international lines of communication that help assure that the most economically viable and environmentally sound pest management tactics can be developed and implemented.The urgent need for international collaboration in applied acridology is further heightened by the trans-border nature of many acridid outbreaks. 

In summary, this workshop was an extension of a growing, grassroots effort by the world’s acridologists to build new relationships and programmes in the face of declining resources and increasing acridid outbreaks.The common cause uniting these diverse scientists and managers is an explicit recognition that the interface of pest management with environmental risk must serve as the starting point for new understandings and approaches.It is imperative that grasshopper and locust management systems be derived via simultaneous solutions for the interrelated challenges of economics and ecology on the world’s grasslands. 


The utopian time to solve a problem is once all of the facts are known, the processes are clarified, and potential approaches have been tested.However, in the “real world”, we recognize that it is irresponsible to withhold our best professional judgement until absolute certainty has been obtained.While we wait for “just one more study”, acridid outbreaks are decimating food supplies, and misguided control strategies are risking human and environmental health. We suggest that such “paralysis by analysis” will not meet the needs of the human population or the environment, as we cannot stop the world until we have enough data upon which to make unambiguous recommendations.As such, the question becomes not “What is the best answer?”, but “What is a better answer?”. 

It is evident that the world is changing and that acridid outbreaks will occur and will be treated whether or not the scientist-manager offers input or suggests changes. In simple terms, if the applied acridologist does not proactively define the future of pest management, it will be determined by politicians, bureaucrats, and industries – all of who have interests that may conflict with the sustained stewardship of the land and its people. As such, the scientist-manager is in the difficult position of either using inadequate knowledge to develop imperfect approaches which represent better, but less-than-ideal, tactics or abrogating the responsibility for making recommendations until the ideal system can be implemented.We have consciously chosen to move ahead with humility, knowing that we risk error but also being aware that we have an ethical obligation to act on our best judgement in the face of uncertainty. 


The setting for a workshop to address issues of international importance is a difficult choice, as one does not want to predispose the nature of the meeting through the selection of a venue.As such, practical considerations largely drove the decision to host the workshop in the United States.Locating the meeting in Estes Park, Colorado provided easy access to transportation and other logistical services (including simultaneous and sequential translation). The other consideration was to choose a venue that was scaled to the size of the workshop, so that participants had a setting that was private and somewhat secluded to create an atmosphere of collegiality and intimacy necessary for honest discussions and sincere resolutions of differences. 


Selecting the participants was the most difficult challenge in developing the workshop, as the outcome of the project was completely in the hands of the scientists and managers attending the meeting.We were seeking a “real time” creative effort, in which individuals would synthesize -- not simply report -- their ideas. In this context, three essential criteria were used to select the participants. 

First, we sought individuals who were internationally respected for their knowledge of applied acridology and related fields. Our participants included many of the world’s finest experts in the biology, ecology, taxonomy, conservation, and management of acridids.We consciously included both scientists and managers, but excluded agency officials and other administrators who lacked first-hand experience with grasshoppers and locusts. 

Next, we looked for highly creative individuals, with reputations for being original thinkers and capable listeners. Because the workshop was participant-driven, it was essential to identify individuals who would truly engage in the process of mutual discovery.It was also critical to assure that the participants would be adaptable to an unusual format, as we chose to minimize formal presentations and maximize structured discussion and problem-solving. 

Finally, we wanted a diversity of participants to reflect the full richness of scientific and management experience and perception.We chose people to optimize the range of geographic (within NATO parameters), cultural, political, economic, and philosophical backgrounds.Balancing this diversity against the risks of having too many participants (thereby precluding authentic dialogues) or too few participants (thereby omitting important perspectives) was an enormous task. The goal was to assemble a creative, critical mass of people in order to generate respectful and resolvable conflict.Our intention was that this group should have the potential for finding common ground on complex and controversial issues.But it was essential that the emergent consensus would have to be earned, not assumed. 

The list of participants represents our best efforts to address the three criteria.There is no doubt that we could have chosen other participants; exclusion in no way implies a lack of expertise, experience, collegiality, originality or creativity. Rather, this list reflects our best efforts in context of personal experiences, accidents of historical association, and admittedly incomplete knowledge. 


To generate the most productive discourse possible, four methods were employed. First, a survey was conducted prior to the workshop in order to assess the participants’ views on the risks associated with acridid outbreaks and management strategies. Second, we designed a set of four “problems”, the solutions of which were to focus dialogue towards a final set of recommendations. Third, before each of the aforementioned “problems”, there was a set of presentations intended to stimulate thought and discussion pertaining to the issue.Fourth, we concluded with the development of a set of consensus recommendations pertaining to the economically viable, environmentally sound acridid pest management. 

The methods and results of the “collective” workshop products (i.e., surveys, problems sets, and recommendations) are presented as the concluding chapter of this book. The presentations used as the foundations of the workshop discussions form the “core” of this book. These individual analyses offer valuable insights as to the nature of acridid pest management and conservation in context of ecological and economic principles, and they provide an essential context for the collective products.

Detailed Description of Actual Services provided by your Company:

Organization of the International Workshop on the problem of Managing Grasshopper Outbreaks without Risking Environmental Disaster (September 1999, Estes Park, Colorado - USA).The workshop was attended by 21 participants from 11 countries. 

Preparation for publication the Proceedings of the workshop. The book (14 chapters by 17 contributors, 230 pages) was published in September 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers (Dordrecht-Boston-London) under the title Grasshoppers and Grassland Health.

The book is the first comprehensive, international exploration of the environmental and economic costs and benefits of acridids (grasshoppers and locusts) both as essential ecological components and as serious grassland pests.Using a risk analysis approach to examine the ecological role of the acridids and the effect of controlling these insects, the authors assess our current understanding of the grasshopper-grassland relationship.They also propose new directions for research and management in acridology and ecology that are consistent with developing a more economically productive and ecologically sustainable human presence on the world's grasslands.The integration of ecological, agricultural, economic, political and cultural perspectives brings into focus the enormous complexity of managing native insect populations in natural ecosystems.This general survey is supported by individual chapters devoted to particularly relevant and contemporary studies of locust ecology, pest management and conservation.

Firm’s Name: Association for Applied Acridology International (AAAI)

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