Virginia Tech™home

Dr. Michael Sorice

Associate Professor
  • B. A., Zoology, Miami University (1997); M.S., Department of Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University (2001); Ph.D., Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University (2008)

Dr. Michael Sorice

Dr. Michael Sorice
310 A Cheatham Hall
310 West Campus Dr.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Natural resource recreation, recreation specialization, human dimensions of natural resource management, conservation on private lands, incentive programs and conservation policy, human-wildlife interactions, land ownership demographics & land use, attitudes & social norms, behavior assessment, research methods, data analysis.


  • FREC 3524: Recreation Management
  • FREC 3564: Recreation Planning 

My research interests focus on individual and group behavior as it relates to environmental stewardship with an emphasis on the role of natural resource users and landowners in protecting biodiversity and imperiled ecosystems. My work is situated in the social dilemma framework in which conservation over the long term is considered essential to sustaining human well being; yet, people opt instead for their short-term self interest. This yields human behaviors and land management practices that result in increasing losses in ecosystem function and services. I investigate the prospects for sustainable behavior across marine and terrestrial environments as well as in recreation/tourism settings and on private lands.

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 best management practices (BMPs) 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 BMPs and subsequent ecosystems services.

Voluntary incentive programs as a policy tool to improve imperiled/endangered species recovery on private lands. This research examines the nature of and degree to which private landowners manage land for the benefit of endangered species when provided with incentives to do so. I assess when, where, how, and why incentive programs contribute to
biodiversity conservation.

Balancing recreational use and conservation of natural resources. This research addresses the paradox of maintaining or increasing recreation/tourism benefits while protecting the target resource. Increased use leads to increased revenues that can be reinvested in management; but, it also leads to an increase in social and biophysical impacts. I have examined how destination choice is influenced by regulatory schemes as well as issues associated with allowing people to directly interact with wildlife.

  • Berg, M. D., Sorice, M. G., Wilcox, B. P., Angerer, J. P., Rhodes, E. C., & Fox, W. E. 2015. Demographic changes drive woody plant cover trends—An example from the Great Plains. Rangeland Ecology & Management. doi: In press
  • Sorice, M., & Donlan, C. J. (2015). A human-centered framework for innovation in conservation incentive programs. Ambio, 1-5. doi: 10.1007/s13280-015-0650-z
  • Sorice, M.G., and T. Abel. 2015. A landowner-centered approach to obtaining participation in pre-compliance conservation programs. In Proactive strategies for protecting species: Pre-listing conservation and the Endangered Species Act, ed. C.J. Donlan, 105–114. Oakland: University of California Press.
  • Gartner, T., C. J. Donlan, M. G. Sorice, J. Mulligan, M. Sniekus, and R. Johnson. 2015. The gopher tortoise, military readiness, and pre-listing conservation. In Proactive strategies for protecting species: Pre-listing conservation and the Endangered Species Act, ed. C.J. Donlan, 105–114. Oakland: University of California Press.
  • 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.
  • Oh, C. O., Sutton, S. G., and Sorice, M. G. 2013. Assessing the role of recreation specialization in fishing site substitution. Leisure Sciences 35(3): 256-272.
  • 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.
  • 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. 2012. Transforming manatee tourism into ecotourism. Essay in International Strategies for Manatee and Dugong Conservation (p. 28), edited by E. Hines, J. E. Reynolds III, L. V. Aragones, A. A. Mignucci-Giannoni and M. Marmontel. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press.
  • 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., 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.
  • Toledo, D. T., M. G. Sorice, U. P. Kreuter, and C.A. Taylor Jr. 2012. To burn or not to burn: Balancing ecological restoration, ranch economics, and liability concerns. Rangelands 34(2): 18-23.
  • Wilcox, B. P., M. G. Sorice, J. Angerer, and C. Wright. 2012. Historical changes in stocking densities  on Texas rangelands. Rangeland Ecology and Management 65(3): 313-317.
  • Martin, L.E., M. G. Sorice, U. P. Kreuter. 2011. Understanding and influencing urban residents’ knowledge about wildland management in Austin, Texas. Urban Ecosystems 1-19 DOI: 10.1007/s11252-011-0177-4.
  • Oh, C., M. G. Sorice, and R. B. Ditton. 2011. Exploring progression along the recreation specialization continuum using a latent growth approach.  Leisure Sciences 33(1):15-31.
  • 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.
  • Wilcox, B. P., M. G. Sorice, and M. Young. 2011. Dryland ecohydrology in the anthropocene. Geography Compass 5(3): 112-127.
  • Wilcox-Moore, K., U. P. Kreuter, M. G. Sorice, and C. Brannstrom. 2011. The Influence of Socioeconomic Status and Fuelwood Access on Domestic Fuelwood Use in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Journal of Latin American Geography 10(2): 195-216.
  • Oh, C., M. G. Sorice, and R. B. Ditton. 2010. Exploring Progression along the Recreation Specialization Continuum Using a Latent Growth Approach. Leisure Sciences 33(1): 15-31.
  • 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.
  • Lai, P., M. G. Sorice, S. K. Nepal, & C. Cheng. 2009. Integrating social marketing into sustainable resource management at Padre Island National Seashore: An attitude-based segmentation approach. Environmental Management 43(6):985-998.
  • Sorice, M. G., C. Oh, R. B. Ditton. 2009. Applying a self-classification measure of recreation specialization to examine scuba diver preferences for marine protected area management. Leisure Sciences 31(2):107-123.
  • Sorice, M. G., C. Oh, R. B. Ditton. 2007. Managing scuba divers to meet ecological goals for coral reef conservation. Ambio 36(4):316-322.
  • Sorice, M. G., R. O. Flamm, and S. L. McDonald. 2007. Factors influencing behavior in a boating speed zone. Coastal Management 35(2-3):357-374.
  • Sorice, M. G., C. S. Shafer, and R. B. Ditton. 2006. Managing endangered species within the use-preservation paradox: The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) as a tourism attraction. Environmental Management 37(1):69-83.
  • Sorice, M. G., C. S. Shafer, and D. Scott. 2003. Managing endangered species within the use/preservation paradox: Understanding and defining harassment of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Coastal Management 31(4):319-338.