Conservation planning loopholes threaten imperiled species, researchers say

July 01, 2006

Widely used multispecies habitat conservation plans that permit the incidental "take" of threatened or endangered species often include species that are not confirmed to be present in the planning area, according to a Forum article in the July 2006 issue of BioScience. The plans frequently fail to provide adequate conservation measures for such species, the article argues, and as a result, species that are present but not confirmed to be are placed in increased danger.

Habitat conservation plans are intended to allow development to occur that is compatible with conservation of species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Permit seekers often list multiple species in their plans, because if a species not covered by the plan is subsequently listed under the act, this could hinder the continued activities of the permittee. The BioScience article, by Matthew E. Rahn of San Diego State University and two colleagues, analyzed 22 multispecies plans approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service before 2005. On average 41 percent of the species covered in the plans had not been confirmed as present in the planning area, a result the authors describe as "alarming." Furthermore, most of these unconfirmed species lacked any species-specific conservation measures. The authors point out that if a species is in fact present but not confirmed as such and therefore not studied, a multispecies habitat conservation plan could actually represent a threat. Most multispecies conservation plans call for nonuniform land use, and such use represents a danger if it is not tailored to the species being protected. Rahn and colleagues argue that "assumptions of occurrence should be justified" in multispecies conservation plans. They suggest that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been inclined to issue permits for multispecies conservation plans in the absence of data, relying instead on professional judgment. Rahn and colleagues term that a "dangerous practice" and suggest that it may help explain why species in multi-species habitat conservation plans fare poorly compared to species with dedicated plans.
-end-
BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on "Organisms from Molecules to the Environment." The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.

The complete list of research articles in the July 2006 issue of BioScience is as follows:

The Implications of Niche Construction and Ecosystem Engineering for Conservation Biology. Neeltje J. Boogert, David M. Paterson, and Kevin N. Laland

A Framework for Exploring the Determinants of Savanna and Grassland Distribution. Anthony J. Mills, Kevin H. Rogers, Marc Stalmans, and Ed T. F. Witkowski

Linking Scales in Stream Ecology. Winsor H. Lowe, Gene E. Likens, and Mary E. Power

Carbon Storage in Landscapes with Stand-replacing Fires. Daniel M. Kashian, William H. Romme, Daniel B. Tinker and colleagues

Statistical Power, Sample Sizes, and the Software to Calculate Them Easily. Keith P. Lewis

Species Coverage in Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plans: Where's the Science? Matthew E. Rahn, Holly Doremus, and James Diffendorfer

American Institute of Biological Sciences

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.