Current Projects

A human-centered approach to the design of conservation incentive programs. Biodiversity conservation incentive programs that provide direct payments to natural resource users strive to enhance the value of imperiled biodiversity, leading to increased stewardship behaviors. However, programs designed with an emphasis on the price effect rather than program delivery can lead to low participation rates and hidden costs that may subvert a user’s internal motivation to conserve biodiversity. A human-centered approach to biodiversity conservation emphasizes empathy for the natural resource user and recognizes that the participation in programs is not simply a function of financial payments, but a function of the overall structure and administration of the program. A human-centered approach focuses on identifying the needs of users and then using participatory processes to incorporate the needs of the conservation target and to co-create a program that is complementary with the internal motivations of the target users.

Relevant Publications

Sorice, M.G., C.J. Donlan, A.R. Santo*, G.M. Luque, C.A. Hagen. 2021. Exploring pathways to participation in an at-risk species conservation program. Conservation Science and Practice, e489.

Santo, A.R., Donlan, C.J., Hagen, C.A., Luque, G.M. and Sorice, M.G., 2020. Characteristics and motivations of participants and nonparticipants in an at-risk species conservation program. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 26(3):293-301.

Sorice M.G., C. J. Donlan, K. J. Boyle, W. Xu, and S. Gelcich. 2018. Scaling participation in payments for ecosystem services programs. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0192211.

Ramsdell, P. R., M. G. Sorice, A. Dwyer. 2016. Using financial incentives to motivate conservation of an at-risk species on private lands. Environmental Conservation. 43(1): 34-44.

Santo, A., Sorice, M.G., Donlan, C.J., Franck, C.T., Anderson, C.A. 2015. A human-centered approach to designing invasive species eradication programs on human- inhabited islands. Global Environmental Change 35: 289-298.

Sorice, M. G. and C. J. Donlan. 2015. A human-centered framework for innovation in conservation incentive programs. Ambio. 44(8):788-792.

Sorice, M. G., and T. Abel. 2015. Participation in Pre-compliance Incentive J. Donlan and T. Gartner, editors. Markets, Mitigation, and the Endangered Species Act: Solutions For Incentivizing Proactive Species Conservation. University of California, Berkeley, CA.

Sorice, M. G., T. Gartner, M. Snieckus, R. Johnson, and C. J. Donlan. 2013. Increasing participation in incentive programs for biodiversity conservation. Ecological Applications  23(5):1146-1155.

Sorice, M. G. 2012. Retooling the traditional approach to studying the belief–attitude relationship: Explaining landowner buy-in to incentive programs. Society & Natural Resources 25(5): 499-512.

Sorice, M. G., J. R. Conner, U. P. Kreuter, and R. Neal Wilkins. 2012. Centrality of the ranching/farming lifestyle and attitudes toward a voluntary incentive program to protect endangered species. Rangeland Ecology & Management. 65(2): 144-152.

Sorice, M. G., W. Haider, J. R. Conner, and R. B. Ditton. 2011. Incentive structure and private landowner participation in an endangered species conservation program.  Conservation Biology 25: 587-596:

Sorice, M. G. and J. R. Conner. 2010. Predicting landowner intentions to enroll in an incentive program to protect endangered species.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife 15(2):77-89.

Understanding the role of self-organized groups in adaptive management. This research focuses on individuals self-organizing into groups to enhance the management of resources.

Relevant Publications

Fitchett, L.L., Sorice, M.G., Cobourn, K.M., Boyle, K.J., Klug, J.L. and Weathers, K.C., 2020. Pathways to enhanced lake integrity: A Framework to assess the effectiveness of local lake associations. Lakes & Reservoirs: Research & Management, 25(2), pp.258-268.

Henson, V.R.; Cobourn, K.M.; Weathers, K.C.; Carey, C.C.; Farrell, K.J.; Klug, J.L.; Sorice, M.G.; Ward, N.K.; Weng, W. A 2020. Practical Guide for Managing Interdisciplinary Teams: Lessons Learned from Coupled Natural and Human Systems Research. Social Sciences, 9, 119.

Ward, N.K., *L. Fitchett, J.A. Hart, L. Shu, J. Stachelek, W. Weng, Y. Zhang et al., 2019. Integrating fast and slow processes is essential for simulating human–freshwater interactions. Ambio, 48(10), pp.1169-1182.

Cobourn, K. M. et al. 2018. From concept to practice to policy: modeling coupled natural and human systems in lake catchments. Ecosphere 9(5): e02209.

Managing rangelands for ecosystem services. This research characterizes relationships between human activities and natural processes in a rangeland ecosystem, as a basis for developing management practices that will enhance the sustainability of agricultural profitability while at the same time improving the flow of ecosystem services from rangeland systems. My research examines:

  • the social forces that historically and currently drive land-use decisions affecting rangeland condition,
  • factors that influence the use of conservation practices on private lands with a focus on the role of voluntary incentive programs, and
  • implications of demographic shifts in land ownership on the adoption of conservation practices and subsequent ecosystems services.

Relevant Publications

Sorice, M.G., K. Rajala*, B.L. Brown, V.A. Masterson, S.D. Fuhlendorf. 2023. Relationship with the land as a foundation for ecosystem stewardship. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 21(6), 282-288.

Rajala, K. and M.G. Sorice. 2022. Sense of place on the range: Landowner place meanings, place attachment, and well-being in the Southern Great Plains. Rangelands 44(5), 353-367.

Sorice, M.G., K. Rajala*, and D. Toledo. 2022. Private landowners and the facilitation of an invasive species. Rangelands 44(5), 345-352.

Rajala, K., M.G. Sorice, D. Toledo. 2021. Gatekeepers of transformation: private landowners evaluate invasives based on impacts to ecosystem services. Ecosphere, 12:e03652.

Barnes, J.C., M. Sketch, A.R. Gramza, M.G. Sorice, R. Iovanna, A.A..Dayer, 2020. Land use decisions after the Conservation Reserve Program: Re‐enrollment, reversion, and persistence in the southern Great Plains. Conservation Science & Practice.

Rajala, K., Sorice, M.G. and Thomas, V.A., 2020. The meaning (s) of place: Identifying the structure of sense of place across a social–ecological landscape. People and Nature, 2(3).

Sorice, M.G., K. Rajala, and U.P. Kreuter. 2018. Understanding management decisions of absentee landowners: More than just presence-absence. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 71(2): 159-162.

Hurst, K., C. P. Ramsdell, and Sorice, M. G. 2017. A life course approach to understanding social drivers of rangeland conversion. Ecology & Society. 22(1):19. Open Access

Sorice, M. G., U. P. Kreuter, B. P. Wilcox, and W. E. Fox III. 2014. Changing landowners, changing ecosystem? Land-ownership motivations as drivers of land management practices. Journal of Environmental Management 133: 144-152.

Toledo, D., U. P. Kreuter, M. G. Sorice, and C. A. Taylor Jr. 2014. The role of prescribed burn associations in the application of prescribed fires in rangeland ecosystems. Journal of Environmental Management 132: 323-328.

Toledo, D., M. G. Sorice, U. P. Kreuter. 2013. Social and ecological factors influencing attitudes towards the application of high intensity prescribed burns to restore fire adapted grassland ecosystems. Ecology & Society 18(4):9.

Sorice, M. G., U. P. Kreuter, B. P. Wilcox, and W. E. Fox III. 2012. Classifying land-ownership motivations in central, Texas, USA: A first step in understanding drivers of large-scale land cover change. Journal of Arid Environments 80: 56-64.

Wilcox, B. P., M. G. Sorice, and M. Young. 2011. Dryland ecohydrology in the anthropocene. Geography Compass 5(3): 112-127.