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The Natural Resources, Tourism, and Recreation (NATURE) Studies Lab is part of the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University.  It is an active group of faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students with a passion and interest in research, teaching, planning, and management. The Director of the NATURE Studies Lab is Dr. Mark Needham.


The NATURE Studies Lab conducts research and planning focusing on recreation, tourism, marine and terrestrial parks and protected areas, wildlife, forestry, and other natural resource issues.  The goal of this lab is to examine human elements such as use and impacts, and inform management of natural resources and policy development.  This lab has collaborated with and received support from federal agencies such as the US Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Bureau of Land Management; state agencies such as the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources; and local agencies such as Metro (Portland).  The lab has also worked alongside nongovernmental institutions such as the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, The Forest Health Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust, and Coral Reef Alliance, as well as private entities such as Intrawest Resorts and Powdr Resorts.  Recent studies include:

  • Public acceptance of using biotechnologies to address forest health threats such as chestnut blight and climate change.
  • Resident perceptions of the new marine reserve system in Oregon.
  • Public tradeoffs among ecosystem services in intensively managed forests.
  • Recreationist behaviors in Portland’s urban parks.
  • Recreation capacities, crowding, and conflict on the Sandy River in Oregon.
  • Landowner incentives and tolerances for managing beaver impacts in Oregon.
  • Recreation impacts and management at various marine protected areas in Hawaii.
  • Crowding and conflict associated with swimming with manta rays in Kona, Hawaii.
  • Visitor motivations and satisfaction throughout Oregon’s state park system.
  • Effects of guides and outfitters on recreation and tourism in Alaska’s wilderness.
  • Visitor impacts and opinions of management at various alpine ski areas.
  • Hunter responses to chronic wasting disease in deer and elk in multiple states.
  • Visitor experiences and preferences at Oregon’s state forest recreation sites.
  • Support, demand, and revenue for recreation at the McDonald-Dunn Forest in Oregon.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of science center interpretation on local communities.
  • Perceptions of volunteer tourists at a cloud forest reserve in Ecuador.


Research conducted by the NATURE Studies Lab involves understanding human interactions with other humans and the environment through scientifically rigorous empirical investigation that is based on a solid conceptual and theoretical foundation.  This research incorporates previous information, collaborative input from multiple stakeholders, and rigorous primary data collection that provides information that is both representative and generalizable.  Most of the data collection methods involve survey research and quantitative analyses, although several studies have also integrated qualitative approaches such as interviews and focus groups.  These strategies inform grounded recommendations for resource management and policy development.


The NATURE Studies Lab has conducted scientific research in multiple states and countries.  In the United States, studies have been conducted in Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, California, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and Wisconsin.  Studies have also been conducted in other countries such as Canada, South Africa, and Ecuador.

Please contact the lab if you would like to discuss potential opportunities or collaborations:

Natural Resources, Tourism, and Recreation (NATURE) Studies Lab
Oregon State University
204 Richardson Hall
Corvallis, Oregon, USA 97331
Office:  (541) 737-1498
Fax:  (541) 737-5814