Advanced Conservation Strategies

Driggs, ID, United States

Advanced Conservation Strategies

Driggs, ID, United States
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Donlan C.J.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Donlan C.J.,Cornell University | Wingfield D.K.,University of California at Santa Cruz | Crowder L.B.,Duke Center for Marine Conservation | Wilcox C.,CSIRO
Conservation Biology | Year: 2010

Little is known about how specific anthropogenic hazards affect the biology of organisms. Quantifying the effect of regional hazards is particularly challenging for species such as sea turtles because they are migratory, difficult to study, long lived, and face multiple anthropogenic threats. Expert elicitation, a technique used to synthesize opinions of experts while assessing uncertainty around those views, has been in use for several decades in the social science and risk assessment sectors. We conducted an internet-based survey to quantify expert opinion on the relative magnitude of anthropogenic hazards to sea turtle populations at the regional level. Fisheries bycatch and coastal development were most often ranked as the top hazards to sea turtle species in a geographic region. Nest predation and direct take followed as the second and third greatest threats, respectively. Survey results suggest most experts believe sea turtles are threatened by multiple factors, including substantial at-sea threats such as fisheries bycatch. Resources invested by the sea turtle community, however, appear biased toward terrestrial-based impacts. Results from the survey are useful for conservation planning because they provide estimates of relative impacts of hazards on sea turtles and a measure of consensus on the magnitude of those impacts among researchers and practitioners. Our survey results also revealed patterns of expert bias, which we controlled for in our analysis. Respondents with no experience with respect to a sea turtle species tended to rank hazards affecting that sea turtle species higher than respondents with experience. A more-striking pattern was with hazard-based expertise: the more experience a respondent had with a specific hazard, the higher the respondent scored the impact of that hazard on sea turtle populations. Bias-controlled expert opinion surveys focused on threatened species and their hazards can help guide and expedite species recovery plans. © 2010 Society for Conservation Biology.

Bonnaud E.,Aix - Marseille University | Bonnaud E.,University Paris - Sud | Medina F.M.,Consejeria de Medio Ambiente | Vidal E.,Aix - Marseille University | And 8 more authors.
Biological Invasions | Year: 2011

Cats are among the most successful and damaging invaders on islands and a significant driver of extinction and endangerment. Better understanding of their ecology can improve effective management actions such as eradication. We reviewed 72 studies of insular feral cat diet from 40 islands worldwide. Cats fed on a wide range of species from large birds and medium sized mammals to small insects with at least 248 species consumed (27 mammals, 113 birds, 34 reptiles, 3 amphibians, 2 fish and 69 invertebrates). Three mammals, 29 birds and 3 reptiles recorded in the diet of cats are listed as threatened by the IUCN. However, a few species of introduced mammals were the most frequent prey, and on almost all islands mammals and birds contributed most of the daily food intake. Latitude was positively correlated with the predation of rabbits and negatively with the predation of reptiles and invertebrates. Distance from landmass was positively correlated with predation on birds and negatively correlated with the predation of reptiles. The broad range of taxa consumed by feral cats on islands suggests that they have the potential to impact almost any native species, even the smallest ones under several grams, that lack behavioral, morphological or life history adaptations to mammalian predators. Insular feral cat's reliance on introduced mammals, which evolved with cat predation, suggests that on many islands, populations of native species have already been reduced. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Pascoe S.,CSIRO | Wilcox C.,CSIRO | Donlan C.J.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Donlan C.J.,Cornell University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

The concept of biodiversity offsets is well established as an approach to environmental management. The concept has been suggested for environmental management in fisheries, particularly in relation to the substantial numbers of non-target species-seabirds in particular-caught and killed as incidental bycatch during fishing activities. Substantial areas of fisheries are being closed to protect these species at great cost to the fishing industry. However, other actions may be taken to offset the impact of fishing on these populations at lower cost to the fishing industry. This idea, however, has attracted severe criticism largely as it does not address the underlying externality problems created by the fishing sector, namely seabird fishing mortality. In this paper, we re-examine the potential role of compensatory mitigation as a fisheries management tool, although from the perspective of being an interim management measure while more long-lasting solutions to the problem are found. We re-model an example previously examined by both proponents and opponents of the approach, namely the cost effectiveness of rodent control relative to fishery area closures for the conservation of a seabird population adversely affected by an Australian tuna fishery. We find that, in the example being examined, invasive rodent eradication is at least 10 times more cost effective than area closures. We conclude that, while this does not solve the actual bycatch problem, it may provide breathing space for both the seabird species and the industry to find longer term means of reducing bycatch. © 2011 Pascoe et al.

Bohrer G.,Ohio State University | Brandes D.,Lafayette College | Mandel J.T.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Bildstein K.L.,Acopian Center for Conservation Learning | And 5 more authors.
Ecology Letters | Year: 2012

Soaring birds migrate in massive numbers worldwide. These migrations are complex and dynamic phenomena, strongly influenced by meteorological conditions that produce thermal and orographic uplift as the birds traverse the landscape. Herein we report on how methods were developed to estimate the strength of thermal and orographic uplift using publicly available digital weather and topography datasets at continental scale. We apply these methods to contrast flight strategies of two morphologically similar but behaviourally different species: golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos, and turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, during autumn migration across eastern North America tracked using GPS tags. We show that turkey vultures nearly exclusively used thermal lift, whereas golden eagles primarily use orographic lift during migration. It has not been shown previously that migration tracks are affected by species-specific specialisation to a particular uplift mode. The methods introduced herein to estimate uplift components and test for differences in weather use can be applied to study movement of any soaring species. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

Hansen D.M.,Stanford University | Donlan C.J.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Donlan C.J.,Amherst College | Donlan C.J.,Cornell University | And 4 more authors.
Ecography | Year: 2010

Starting in the late 1970s, ecologists began unraveling the role of recently extinct large vertebrates in evolutionary ecology and ecosystem dynamics. Three decades later, practitioners are now considering the role of ecological history in conservation practice, and some have called for restoring missing ecological functions and evolutionary potential using taxon substitutes - extant, functionally similar taxa - to replace extinct species. This pro-active approach to biodiversity conservation has proved controversial. Yet, rewilding with taxon substitutes, or ecological analogues, is now being integrated into conservation and restoration programmes around the world. Empirical evidence is emerging that illustrates how taxon substitutions can restore missing ecological functions and evolutionary potential. However, a major roadblock to a broader evaluation and application of taxon substitution is the lack of practical guidelines within which they should be conducted. While the International Union for Conservation of Nature's reintroduction guidelines are an obvious choice, they are unsuitable in their current form. We recommend necessary amendments to these guidelines to explicitly address taxon substitutions. A second impediment to empirical evaluations of rewilding with taxon substitutions is the sheer scale of some proposed projects; the majority involves large mammals over large areas. We present and discuss evidence that large and giant tortoises (family Testudinidae) are a useful model to rapidly provide empirical assessments of the use of taxon substitutes on a comparatively smaller scale. Worldwide, at least 36 species of large and giant tortoises went extinct since the late Pleistocene, leaving 32 extant species. We examine the latent conservation potential, benefits, and risks of using tortoise taxon substitutes as a strategy for restoring dysfunctional ecosystems. We highlight how, especially on islands, conservation practitioners are starting to employ extant large tortoises in ecosystems to replace extinct tortoises that once played keystone roles. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Ecography.

Sorice M.G.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Donlan C.J.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Donlan C.J.,Cornell University
Ambio | Year: 2015

The promise of environmental conservation incentive programs that provide direct payments in exchange for conservation outcomes is that they enhance the value of engaging in stewardship behaviors. An insidious but important concern is that a narrow focus on optimizing payment levels can ultimately suppress program participation and subvert participants’ internal motivation to engage in long-term conservation behaviors. Increasing participation and engendering stewardship can be achieved by recognizing that participation is not simply a function of the payment; it is a function of the overall structure and administration of the program. Key to creating innovative and more sustainable programs is fitting them within the existing needs and values of target participants. By focusing on empathy for participants, co-designing program approaches, and learning from the rapid prototyping of program concepts, a human-centered approach to conservation incentive program design enhances the propensity for discovery of novel and innovative solutions to pressing conservation issues. © 2015, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Donlan C.J.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Donlan C.J.,Cornell University | Luque G.M.,University Paris - Sud | Wilcox C.,CSIRO
Conservation Letters | Year: 2015

Conservation practitioners are increasingly embracing evidence-based and return on investment (ROI) approaches. Much evidence now exists that documents island biodiversity impacts by invasive mammals. The technical ability to eradicate invasive mammals from islands has increased exponentially; consequently, strategic planning focused on maximizing the ROI is now a limiting factor for island restoration. We use a regional ROI approach to prioritize eradications on islands for seabird conservation in British Columbia, Canada. We do so by integrating economic costs of interventions and applying a resource allocation approach. We estimate the optimal set of islands for eradication under two conservation objectives each with a series of increasing thresholds of population sizes and breeding locations. Our approach (1) identified the most cost-effective interventions, (2) determined whether or not those interventions were nested with increasing thresholds, and (3) helped justify larger investments when appropriate. More often than not, conservation decisions are made at a regional scale, and decision-makers often must make choices on how to allocate funds across a number of potential conservation actions. A regional, ROI framework can serve as a decision-support tool for organizations engaging in discrete interventions in order to maximize benefits for the minimum cost. © 2014 The Authors.

Lavers J.L.,University of Tasmania | Wilcox C.,CSIRO | Donlan C.J.,Advanced Conservation Strategies | Donlan C.J.,Cornell University
Biological Invasions | Year: 2010

Invasive predators pose a significant risk to bird populations worldwide. Humans have a long history of removing predators from ecosystems; current island restoration actions typically focus on the removal of invasive predators, such as non-native rodents, from seabird breeding islands. While not overly abundant, the results of predator removal studies provide valuable information on the demographic response of birds, and can assist conservation practitioners with prioritizing invasive predator removal projects. We review such studies focusing on observed demographic responses of bird populations to predator removal campaigns and whether ecological factors are useful in predicting those responses. From the 800+ predator removal programs indentified, a small fraction (n = 112) reported demographic responses of bird populations. Change in productivity was the most commonly reported response, which on average increased by 25.3% (2.5 SE) with predator removal. The best supported model for predicting the change in productivity from predator removal incorporated bird body mass, egg mass, predator type, nest type and an interaction term for body mass and nest type (AICc weight = 0.457). The predicted percent increase in productivity resulting from hypothetical predator removal ranged from 16.9 to 63.0% (mean = 45.0, 5.6 SE), and was lowest for large, surface nesting birds such as albatrosses. The predicted increase in productivity resulting from predator removal alone was insufficient to reverse the predicted population decline for 30-67% of bird species considered, suggesting that in many cases, removal of predators must be performed in combination with other conservation actions in order to ensure a stable or increasing population. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Hoffmann B.D.,CSIRO | Luque G.M.,CNRS Ecology, Systematic and Evolution Laboratory | Bellard C.,University College London | Holmes N.D.,Island Conservation | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2016

While invasive species eradications are at the forefront of biodiversity conservation, ant eradication failures are common. We reviewed ant eradications worldwide to assess the practice and identify knowledge gaps and challenges. We documented 316 eradication campaigns targeting 11 species, with most occurring in Australia covering small areas (< 10 ha). Yellow crazy ant was targeted most frequently, while the bigheaded ant has been eradicated most often. Of the eradications with known outcomes, 144 campaigns were successful, totaling approximately 9500 ha, of which 8300 ha were from a single campaign that has since been partially re-invaded. Three active ingredients, often in combination, are most commonly used: fipronil, hydramethylnon, and juvenile hormone mimics. Active ingredient, bait, and method varied considerably with respect to species targeted, which made assessing factors of eradication success challenging. We did, however, detect effects by active ingredient, number of treatments, and method on eradication success. Implementation costs increased with treatment area, and median costs were high compared to invasive mammal eradications. Ant eradications are in a phase of increased research and development, and a logical next step for practitioners is to develop best practices. A number of research themes that seek to integrate natural history with eradication strategies and methodologies would improve the ability to eradicate ants: increasing natural history and taxonomic knowledge, increasing the efficacy of active ingredients and baits, minimizing and mitigating non-target risks, developing better tools to declare eradication success, and developing alternative eradication methodologies. Invasive ant eradications are rapidly increasing in both size and frequency, and we envisage that eradicating invasive ants will increase in focus in coming decades given the increasing dispersal and subsequent impacts. © 2016.

PubMed | Advanced Conservation Strategies and University of Santiago de Chile
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Ambio | Year: 2016

Biodiversity offsets are becoming increasingly common across a portfolio of settings: national policy, voluntary programs, international lending, and corporate business structures. Given the diversity of ecological, political, and socio-economic systems where offsets may be applied, place-based information is likely to be most useful in designing and implementing offset programs, along with guiding principles that assure best practice. We reviewed the research on biodiversity offsets to explore gaps and needs. While the peer-reviewed literature on offsets is growing rapidly, it is heavily dominated by ecological theory, wetland ecosystems, and U.S.-based research. Given that majority of offset policies and programs are occurring in middle- and low-income countries, the research gaps we identified present a number of risks. They also present an opportunity to create regionally based learning platforms focused on pilot projects and institutional capacity building. Scientific research should diversify, both topically and geographically, in order to support the successful design, implementation, and monitoring of biodiversity offset programs.

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