Biology is a tremendously diverse field covering systems operating at vastly different scales, with differing levels of interaction between these. Much of the effort in mathematical biology has been driven by the desire to develop the general principles by which biological systems are organized and operate. Yet at the same time there are demands for answers to quite specific questions to better manage natural systems, to enhance human health, and to plan for the future impacts of human actions. I will give a variety of examples of projects in mathematical ecology that lie at the interface between theory and practice, providing some indication of the utility of quantitative methods to elucidate general patterns of natural system response to management actions. These will include applications of optimal control methods to problems in wildlife management and disease ecology as well as a discussion of individual-based models. An objective of these approaches is to develop hypothetical "best" methods to manage a system, and use this as a template to compare and contrast management scenarios arising from the differing view points of diverse stakeholders in a relative assessment framework.