OPS 2-7
Amphibian decline, uncertainty, risk, and management

Monday, August 10, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Evan H. Campbell Grant, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, US Geological Survey
David A.W. Miller, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Penn State University, PA
Erin Muths, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, CO

Since amphibian declines were first proposed as a global phenomenon over a quarter century ago, the collective efforts of thousands of scientists have helped quantify the severity of such declines and identified a handful of consensus causes.  Despite this remarkable effort, the conservation community has made little progress in reversing declines to achieve conservation successes. The challenge in understanding the drivers of population dynamics - including species declines - is a classic example of the problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Observations of ecological processes made at local scales often inadequately capture and describe patterns at larger scales. 


If a single driver is known or identified to result in population declines, and it is possible to reduce the presence, intensity, or effect of this driver on the population, then this should be a focus of management.  In the absence of perfect information, management should not be delayed, as general guidelines are available for making approximate decisions. These guidelines may be taken from population management successes in other wildlife systems.  If conservation decisions are recurrent, an adaptive management program may be useful to reduce uncertainty relevant to management decisions. While declines of amphibians and loss of biodiversity are globally recognized, conservation is frequently enacted locally. Developing feasible strategies to maintain the distribution and abundance of amphibian populations while ensuring population resilience to environmental changes requires two motivations: a clearer understanding of local drivers of population change, along with a willingness to implement conservation actions despite uncertainty.