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A continuing interest in interdisciplinary research characterizes conservation biology. This interest is a response in large part to the increasingly complex problems facing society. Analysis of recent ecotourism research, as an interdisciplinary enterprise, offers insights. As such, this paper analyses two projects – the social and ecological impacts of visitors to the south-western Australian forests, and of interactions between visitors and sea lions off the west coast of Australia. Analysis centers on issues of central concern for interdisciplinary research in conservation biology: poorly defined terms, lack of common goals, unclear or missing conceptual framework, insufficiently explained methods, and a lack of new knowledge achieved through integration. From the reviewed studies, interdisciplinary research appeared possible because the researchers used strategies from more than one discipline while adopting the paradigmatic position of ecology. Unresolved issues were how to work with potentially conflicting epistemologies and methodologies, and rewarding interdisciplinary research.