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Decision analysis for habitat conservation of an endangered, range-limited salamander

January 1, 2016

Many species of conservation concern are habitat limited and often a major focus of management for these species is habitat acquisition and/or restoration. Deciding the location of habitat restoration or acquisition to best benefit a protected species can be a complicated subject with competing management objectives, ecological uncertainties and stochasticity. Structured decision making (SDM) could be a useful approach for explicitly incorporating those complexities while still working toward species conservation and/or recovery. We applied an SDM approach to Red Hills salamander Phaeognathus hubrichti habitat conservation decision making. Phaeognathus hubrichti is a severely range-limited endemic species in south central Alabama and has highly specific habitat requirements. Many known populations live on private lands and the primary mode of habitat protection is habitat conservation planning, but such plans are non-binding and not permanent. Working with stakeholders, we developed an objectives hierarchy linking land acquisition or protection actions to fundamental objectives. We built a model to assess and compare the quality of the habitat in the known range of P. hubrichti. Our model evaluated key habitat attributes of 5814 pixels of 1 km2 each and ranked the pixels from best to worst with respect to P. hubrichti habitat requirements. Our results are a spatially explicit valuation of each pixel, with respect to its probable benefit to P. hubrichti populations. The results of this effort will be used to rank pixels from most to least beneficial, then identify land owners in the most useful areas for salamanders who are willing to sell or enter into a permanent easement agreement.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Decision analysis for habitat conservation of an endangered, range-limited salamander
DOI 10.1111/acv.12275
Authors Orin J. Robinson, Conor P. McGowan, J.J. Apodaca
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Animal Conservation
Index ID 70192493
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta