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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 scientific research, teaching, planning, and management focusing on human interactions associated with recreation, tourism, parks, wildlife, forestry, and other natural resources. The Director of the NATURE Studies Lab is Dr. Mark Needham.


The NATURE Studies Lab conducts a program of research and planning focusing on recreation, tourism, marine and terrestrial parks and protected areas, wildlife, forestry, and other natural resources.  The goal of this lab’s work 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 USDA Forest Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and state agencies such as Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources.  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 systems in Oregon.
  • Recreation carrying capacity and crowding on the Sandy River in Oregon.
  • Landowner incentives and tolerances for managing beaver impacts in Oregon.
  • Carrying capacity and management of reefs and marine protected areas in Hawaii.
  • Crowding and conflict associated with manta ray night dive sites in Kona, Hawaii.
  • Visitor motivations and satisfaction throughout Oregon’s state park system.
  • Effects of guides and outfitters on recreation and tourism use in Alaska’s wilderness.
  • Visitor opinions of management and environmental issues at alpine ski areas.
  • Hunter responses to chronic wasting disease in deer and elk in eight different states.
  • Community benefits of recreation, leisure, and urban proximate public lands.
  • Visitor experiences and preferences at Oregon’s state forest recreation sites.
  • Support, demand, and revenue for recreation at McDonald-Dunn Forest in Oregon.
  • Measuring the impact 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 advanced survey research and quantitative analyses, although several studies have also integrated qualitative approaches such as interviews and focus groups.  Taken together, 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