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Management and monitoring of the endangered Shenandoah salamander under climate change: Workshop report 10-12 April 2012

January 1, 2014

Here we report on a structured decision making (SDM) process to identify management strategies to ensure persistence of the federally endangered Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah), given that it may be at increased extinction risk under projected climate change. The focus of this report is the second of two SDM workshops; in the first workshop, participants developed a prototype of the decision, including problem frame, management objectives and a suite of potential management strategies, predictive models to inform the decision and link alternatives with the objectives to identify potential solutions, and identified data needs to reduce key uncertainties in the decision. Participants in this second workshop included experts in National Park Service policy at multiple administrative levels, who refined objectives, further evaluated the initial management alternatives, and discussed policy constraints on implementing active management for the species and its high-elevation habitat. The conclusion of the second workshop was similar to that of the first: the current state of information and objectives suggest that there is some value in considering active management to reduce the long-term extinction risk for the species, though there are institutional conservative policies to implementing active management at range-wide scales. The workshop participants also emphasized a conservative NPS management philosophy, including caution in implementing management actions that may ultimately harm the system, a stated assumption that ecosystem changes were “natural” unless demonstrated otherwise (therefore not warranting active management to mitigate), and a need to demonstrate that extinction risk is tied to anthropogenic influence prior to taking active management to mitigate specific anthropogenic influences. Even within a protected area having minimal human disturbance, intertwined environmental variables and interspecific relationships that drive population trends challenge our ability to demonstrate direct links with (anthropogenically influenced) climate change and the decline of a species. Thus while this policy may reduce the potential for injurious management, it may also necessitate extraordinary resources to reduce uncertainty regarding fundamental drivers of species decline prior to taking action.

Publication Year 2014
Title Management and monitoring of the endangered Shenandoah salamander under climate change: Workshop report 10-12 April 2012
Authors Evan H. Campbell Grant, John E. B. Wofford, D. R. Smith, J. Dennis, C. Hawkins-Hoffman, J. Schaberl, M. Foley, M. Bogle
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Natural Resource Report
Series Number NPS/SHEN/NRR—2014/867
Index ID 70169065
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center