Connectivity Conservation and Endangered Species Recovery: A Study in the Challenges of Defining Conservation-Reliant Species
Abbreviated Journal Title
Anthropocene; connectivity; conservation-reliant species; Endangered; Species Act; gray wolf; grizzly bear; recovery planning; ACT; US; EXTINCTION; Biodiversity Conservation
Many species listed under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA) face continuing threats and will require intervention to address those threats for decades. These species, which have been termed conservation-reliant, pose a challenge to the ESA's mandate for recovery of self-sustaining populations. Most references to conservation-reliant species by federal agencies involve the restoration of population connectivity. However, the diverse threats to connectivity faced by different species have contrasting implications in the context of the ESA's mandate. For species facing long-term threats from invasive species or climate change, restoration of natural dispersal may not be technically feasible in the foreseeable future. For other species, restoration of natural dispersal is feasible, but carries economic and political cost. Federal agencies have used a broad definition of conservation reliance to justify delisting of species in the latter group even if they remain dependent on artificial translocation. Distinguishing the two groups better informs policy by distinguishing the technical challenges posed by novel ecological stressors from normative questions such as the price society is willing to pay to protect biodiversity, and the degree to which we should grow accustomed to direct human intervention in species' life cycles as a component of conservation in the Anthropocene Epoch.
"Connectivity Conservation and Endangered Species Recovery: A Study in the Challenges of Defining Conservation-Reliant Species" (2015). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 6450.