Conservation Planning and Policy I

Contributed Paper
ROOM: Room 110 – Galisteo

10:30AM Using a Single Species as an Umbrella to Conserve Many At-Risk Species: the Lesser Prairie-Chicken and Prairie Conservation
Demi Gary; Krista Mougey; Nancy McIntyre; Kerry Griffis-Kyle
Resources for conservation efforts are lacking across the world, with many species at risk but not enough money or time to deal with conserving each species on an individual basis. The use of umbrella species, or species whose habitat conservation indirectly protects many other species, is appropriate when there is a need to protect multiple at-risk species. This is particularly important throughout the Great Plains, where land cover conversion to agriculture and energy production has altered habitat for many species, 1000 of which are currently listed as at-risk. In the southern Great Plains, landscape conservation measures for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) are already in place via a range-wide plan. The Lesser Prairie-Chicken may thus act as an umbrella species in protecting non-target at-risk species whose ranges overlap with its range-wide conservation plan. To determine how many at-risk species may be protected under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken’s umbrella, we overlaid existing range files (USGS GAP Analysis Program) for at-risk vertebrate species throughout the study area to highlight biodiversity hotspots. The Lesser Prairie-Chicken’s range-wide plan as visualized by the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) was then overlaid to analyze non-target species protection provided by this plan. We evaluated habitat requirements of the overlapping at-risk species to determine if Lesser Prairie-Chicken conservation activities will aid in the conservation of these other species. Additionally, land ownership type (PADUS 1.4) was overlaid to identify agencies responsible for land management in hotspot areas. Several at-risk species ranges overlap with the Lesser Prairie-Chicken across multiple states and land ownership types. This project provides land managers with valuable information to address conservation of at-risk species in the Great Plains. It also assesses efficacy of the range-wide plan designed to protect the Lesser-Prairie Chicken in protecting non-target species.
10:50AM Bird Community Integrity and Land Protection in a Mixed-Use Northern Forest
Kathryn Frens; Andrew Crosby; William Porter
Protected areas are integral to conserving Earth’s biodiversity, but the amount of land available for exclusion from human use is diminishing as the population expands. Much of future conservation will depend on mixed-use landscapes, which include working forests and human communities interspersed with protected land. However, patterns of biodiversity on these mixed-use landscapes are not well understood. The objective of this research was to determine factors driving ecological integrity at the landscape scale using measures of bird community diversity. We used data from the Michigan Breeding Bird Atlas (MI BBA) to construct bird community occupancy models and an index of biotic integrity for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a large, forested mixed-use landscape that is more than 50% publicly owned. We then used general linear modeling to determine which landscape variables best predict an area’s ecological integrity. Areas with high percentages of forest cover and more restrictive land protections supported bird communities of higher biotic integrity. This research suggests that national forests contribute significantly to biodiversity in mixed-use landscapes by providing continuous forest cover and less-disturbed habitat for forest specialist birds. By ensuring heterogeneous management on different types of public land, policy makers can help conserve biodiverse natural communities and healthy human communities alongside them.
11:10AM Forestry Effects on Listed Bats
Paola Bernazzani; Shawna Barry; Dale Sparks; Leo Lentsch
Forestry activities can negatively impact listed bats, such as Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat and others. These species are regulated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in large part due to white nose syndrome, a fungal disease that is decimating populations of cave-dwelling bats. However, forest management, including timber harvest and prescribed burning, can also provide long-term benefits by keeping large forested areas on the landscape and creating roosting and foraging habitat. Balancing short-term potential for harm against long-term benefits for habitat can be challenging. We discuss how to quantify impacts from forestry as well as long-term gains. Impacts to bats can be assessed by understanding their distribution on the landscape, in terms of winter, fall/spring, and summer habitat. Seasonal distribution must then be considered with respect to forest type preference. If desired the tradeoff between impacts and benefits for foraging versus roosting can also be considered. We review several approaches to examining the effects of forestry on bats and provide and provide details on how to integrate spatial and non-spatial data into a model that allows for habitat conservation planning under the ESA
11:30AM A Regional Conservation Program for American Burying Beetle
Lucas Bare; Paola Bernazzani; David Zippin; David Williams
American burying beetle (ABB) (Nicrophorus americanus), the largest carrion beetle in North America, was once distributed across the eastern half of the United States. It now populates 10% of its historic range in 10 states, and was listed endangered in 1989. A habitat generalist, the species occurs in a wide range of land cover types across its distribution and, therefore, is especially affected by human activities that alter large areas of habitat. We used a programmatic conservation planning approach to identify ABB habitat across a utility’s service area in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, to assess how transmission line development and operational activities could impact the species over the course of 30 years, and to mitigate these impacts. We estimated over 27 million acres of potential ABB habitat in the plan area and determined potential impacts to ABB occupied habitat based on frequency of historic positive ABB surveys and estimated future transmission line development in the plan area over 30 years. The conservation program mitigates impacts to occupied habitat through off-site compensatory habitat preservation and on-site restoration (for temporary ground disturbance in ABB habitat). Habitat occupancy can be determined with project specific surveys during the ABB active season during plan implementation, or habitat can be assumed occupied and impacts fully offset through off-site habitat preservation. This programmatic conservation planning approach, as opposed to a project-by-project approach, allows for achieving long-term, regional-scale conservation benefits to the species. It also allows transmission project planners to better account for project risks and to streamline Endangered Species Act compliance.
11:50AM Integrating Biological, Economic, and Social Assessments of the Feasibility and Value of Maintaining a Sustainable Population of Elk.
Jennifer L. Murrow; Marion Deerhake; Katherine Heller; David Cobb; Brad Howard
North American elk, once an extirpated species in the eastern US, were reintroduced in 2001 to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM), North Carolina, USA. In 2008, the responsibility for the established herd outside of GRSM was transferred to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). Expansion of elk outside of GRSM boundaries presented viewing opportunities for residents and tourists but led to increases in human-elk conflict and property damage. This drove increased costs of preventive actions and administrative burden for NCWRC. Therefore, NCWRC commissioned an integrated biological, economic, and social assessment of the feasibility and value of maintaining a sustainable elk population, potentially expanding the population, and the possibility of using hunting as a management tool. Through population demographic modeling, we found that the projected population would likely grow in areas where they currently exist, even with small harvest rates or depredation permits of 4 to 6 males per year. This is probably because of a nearby source herd and large, less developed landscapes. However, establishing additional elk herds in areas remote from the current population would likely fail if herds experienced even slightly lower survival and recruitment because of potentially higher levels of elk/human conflict, reduction in quality of habitat, or higher disease rates. A cost-benefit analysis revealed that the elk herd would generally continue to be positive for North Carolina economically and socially by increasing tourism and conveying net benefits that could total millions of dollars per year, depending on the realized scenario of projected positive and negative social impacts. This interdisciplinary approach was an effort to guide and justify the decision process in regards to elk management and illustrates decision science utilization when a wildlife population’s status transitions.


Contributed Paper
Location: Albuquerque Convention Center Date: September 25, 2017 Time: 10:30 am - 12:10 pm