Biology, Policy and Law in Endangered Species Conservation: II. A Case History in Adaptive Management of the Island Fox on Santa Catalina Island, California

By Roemer, Gary W.; Donlan, C. Josh | Endangered Species Update, October-December 2005 | Go to article overview

Biology, Policy and Law in Endangered Species Conservation: II. A Case History in Adaptive Management of the Island Fox on Santa Catalina Island, California


Roemer, Gary W., Donlan, C. Josh, Endangered Species Update


Abstract

Successful recovery of endangered species at first would seem to have a clear answer: simply remove the anthropogenically-induced agent(s) and recovery should follow. While programs attempt to focus conservation efforts in such directions, endangered species recovery is more complex than biology alone, encompassing several, mostly human-related, dimensions. Two separate but concurrent programs involving the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) highlight the many dimensions of species recovery efforts, and the roles they play in hastening or preventing successful recovery. The non-profit organization, the Catalina Island Conservancy, successfully averted the potential extinction of the Catalina Island fox (U. l. catalinae) after a decline occurred due to canine distemper virus. To the north, the National Park Service and partners continue on-going efforts to recover three subspecies of the island fox on the northern Channel Islands that declined owing to heightened predation by golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). In-place monitoring programs, biology of the decline agents, geography, adaptive management, organizational structure, and public perception all played influential roles in the island fox recovery efforts. On Catalina Island, many of these factors contributed to a speedy, successful recovery. On the northern Channel Islands, some factors have slowed and inhibited recovery; however, substantial progress is being made. Elucidating novel mechanisms and policies that can mitigate for factors that impede species recovery should be of paramount importance.

Resumen

La recuperacion exitosa de una especie en peligro de extincion parece tener, a primera instancia, una contestacion clara: simplemente remover los agentes antropogenicamente inducidos y la recuperacion ocurrira. Mientras algunos programas intentan enfocar sus esfuerzos de conservacion en esta direccion, la recuperacion de especies en peligro de extincion es mas compleja que solamente la biologia, incorporando varias dimensiones, incluyendo algunas dimensiones humanas. Dos programas separados pero concurrentes con relacion al zorro isleno (Urocyon littoralis) Ilaman la atencion alas muchas dimensiones de los esfuerzos para la recuperacion de una especie, y los papeles que estos juegan en acelerar o prevenir una recuperacion exitosa de esta. La organizacion sin fines de lucro, conservacion de la isla Catalina, ha evitado exitosamente la posible extincion del zorro isleno (U. 1. catalinae) en la isla Catalina luego de una disminucion que ocurrio debido al virus de trastorno canino. Al norte, el Servicio de Parques Nacionales y sus socio continuan con los esfuerzos de recuperar tres sub-especies del zorro isleno que disminuyeron en el norte de las islas Channel debido a un aumento en la depredacion por el aguila real (Aquila chrysaetos). Programas de monitoreo, la biologia de los agentes de disminucion, la geografia, el manejo adaptable, la estructura de la organizacion, y la percepcion publica tuvieron papeles importantes en los esfuerzos de recuperacion del zorro isleno. En la isla Catalina, muchos de estos factores contribuyeron a una recuperacion rapida y exitosa. En el area nortena de las islas Channel, algunos factores han disminuido o impedido la recuperacion; sin embargo, se ha hecho un gran progreso. Iniciar politicas y mecanismos innovadores que puedan mitigar los factores que impiden la recuperacion de una especie debe ser de importancia suprema.

Introduction

In contemporary time, species endangerment is all too often a consequence of anthropogenic influences that reduce population viability. Successful recovery of species at risk at first would seem to have a clear answer: simply reverse the impacts or remove the anthropogenically induced agent(s) and recovery should follow. Although recovery programs attempt to focus conservation efforts in such directions, endangered species recovery is more complex than biology alone, encompassing several, mostly human-related dimensions (Clark, Reading & Clarke 1994). …

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