Saving endangered species using adaptive management

Robert Serrouya, Dale R. Seip, Dave Hervieux, Bruce N. McLellan, R. Scott McNay, Robin Steenweg, Doug C. Heard, Mark Hebblewhite, Michael Gillingham, Stan Boutin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Adaptive management is a powerful means of learning about complex ecosystems, but is rarely used for recovering endangered species. Here, we demonstrate how it can benefit woodland caribou, which became the first large mammal extirpated from the contiguous United States in recent history. The continental scale of forest alteration and extended time needed for forest recovery means that relying only on habitat protection and restoration will likely fail. Therefore, population management is also needed as an emergency measure to avoid further extirpation. Reductions of predators and overabundant prey, translocations, and creating safe havens have been applied in a design covering >90,000 km2. Combinations of treatments that increased multiple vital rates produced the highest population growth. Moreover, the degree of ecosystem alteration did not influence this pattern. By coordinating recovery involving scientists, governments, and First Nations, treatments were applied across vast scales to benefit this iconic species.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)6181-6186
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume116
    Issue number13
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2019

    Keywords

    • Adaptive management
    • Apparent competition
    • Conservation
    • Ecosystem experiment
    • Predator-prey dynamics

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