Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Article excerpt

With amphibians and reptiles declining more dramatically than any other vertebrate group on the planet, what can be done? Around the globe, efforts are underway to determine the causes and develop solutions to amphibian and reptile declines, extinctions, and range reductions. Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) leads a United States-based effort dedicated to "keeping common species common," thus averting the need to list more species as endangered.

Established in 1999, with a mission to conserve amphibians, reptiles, and their habitats through public/private partnerships, PARC has gained momentum through its first decade and has its strategy for success charted to the year 2020.

A partnership of citizens, scientists, and resource managers, PARC includes representative of 11 federal agencies, all U.S. states, several Canadian provinces, tribes, conservation organizations, universities, professional and hobbyist herpetological organizations, research laboratories, environmental consultants, nature centers, zoos, and the forest products, energy and pet trade industries. Anyone can be an active member. PARC's emphasis is on the conservation of both amphibians and reptiles (i.e., herpetofauna), and its focus extends beyond species that are imperiled.

PARC has regional working groups in the Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest, in addition to several active state groups. Recent efforts initiated with partners in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean are broadening PARC's reach.

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The challenges facing amphibians and reptiles today include the loss, fragmentation, and alteration of habitats; environmental contamination; global climate change; disease; unsustainable use; and invasive species. PARC members address specific threats at the regional and national levels through the development of science-based products and services designed to guide herpetofaunal conservation. They also invite the participation of "non-traditional" partners.

Science-Based Products and Services

Responding to the greatest threat facing amphibians and reptiles, PARC launched its flagship conservation tool, the award-winning Habitat Management Guidelines Technical Series (www.parc place.org/habitat_management_guide). These guides are unique in that they consider not only "ideal" recommendations but also "maximizing compatibility" recommendations for use when conservation of herpetofauna or habitat is not an activity's primary management objective.

To address the lack of information on the status of many amphibians and reptiles, and to assist resource managers who do not have expertise in herpetology, PARC developed an Inventory and Monitoring Handbook that provides field-tested, peer-recommended survey techniques for all U.S. and Canadian herpetofauna (www.parcplace. org/inventory_monitoring).

In addition, PARC provides informational brochures aimed at increasing environmentally responsible behavior towards amphibians, reptiles, and their habitats (visit www.parcplace.org/publications_resources.html).

Among PARC's newer conservation tools is a suite of "train-the-trainer" courses to accompany the Habitat Management Guidelines and Inventory and Monitoring Handbook. This is being expanded to increase state and local training opportunities and to facilitate capacity-building for those engaged in management.

PARC symposia and conferences bring researchers, managers, and other stakeholders together for discussions on how to address some of the world's most serious conservation challenges. A successful 2007 PARC co-sponsored symposium, Amphibian Declines and Chytridiomycosis: Translating Science into Urgent Action, convened more than 200 participants from nine countries representing four continents. Additional PARC symposia on conservation topics of global significance are being considered. …