Innovations for Endangered Species Recovery
Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
202, Sacramento Convention Center
Daniel M. Evans, University of Washington
Terence Houston, Ecological Society of America
Sharon K. Collinge, University of Colorado
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) established a broad mandate to “recover” species at risk of extinction – to increase their abundance and conserve their habitats so that “the measures provided pursuant to this Act are no longer necessary.” Yet after 40 years of legal protection, recovery planning, and conservation management, the prospects for most endangered species in the United States are still quite dim. The ESA has prevented the extinction of many species. But there are now >1,400 plants and animals on the U.S. endangered species list; fewer than 10% of these species are known to be increasing in abundance; and the number of species that warrant listing is likely an order of magnitude greater than the number listed. Moreover, the ecological stressors pushing species to extinction are so pervasive and persistent in the United States that a large majority of endangered species will continue to need legal protection and active conservation management for the foreseeable future.
When the ESA was passed in 1973, ecologists generally understood nature as a dynamic equilibrium. Most conservation efforts focused on individual species and employed traditional tools of game management – controlling harvest, prohibiting commerce, and creating reserves. These strategies were designed to reduce human threats so that at-risk species could rebound to stable populations. We now realize that ecosystems are rapidly changing, and our traditional management approaches are inadequate. In addition, while the U.S. population and economy continue to grow, government funding for endangered species has been insufficient for decades and will likely remain so.
In this OOS, we will present and discuss innovative strategies to confront these challenges. Talks will synthesize existing research and present new research and methods for recovering endangered species.