Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

An introduction to adaptive management for threatened and endangered species

October 31, 2012

Management of threatened and endangered species would seem to be a perfect context for adaptive management. Many of the decisions are recurrent and plagued by uncertainty, exactly the conditions that warrant an adaptive approach. But although the potential of adaptive management in these settings has been extolled, there are limited applications in practice. The impediments to practical implementation are manifold and include semantic confusion, institutional inertia, misperceptions about the suitability and utility, and a lack of guiding examples. In this special section of the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, we hope to reinvigorate the appropriate application of adaptive management for threatened and endangered species by framing such management in a decision-analytical context, clarifying misperceptions, classifying the types of decisions that might be amenable to an adaptive approach, and providing three fully developed case studies. In this overview paper, I define terms, review the past application of adaptive management, challenge perceived hurdles, and set the stage for the case studies which follow.