RED WOLF CONSERVATION IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

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2022-04-22

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Abstract

The critically endangered red wolf is the focus of a long-standing recovery effort. How climate change might affect it is unknown. Sea-level rise will greatly restrict its current habitat site. Several other threats pressure it. I used three GIS approaches: (1) using site prioritization variables alone, (2) using Model 1 variables and projected sea-level rise, and (3) using Model 2 variables and projected urbanization. I ranked potential reintroduction sites on their suitability scores from each model, compared results between models, and made recommendations to management. The results differed between models. The best sites shifted inland in Model 2 and towards rural areas in Model 3. This indicates that these variables are important in determining site suitability. Top sites from Models 2 and 3 had slightly lower suitability scores, but I expect them to be more sustainable in the future. The suitability of individual variables (e.g., habitat type, prey abundance) differed between sites, but top sites in all 3 scenarios had high overall suitability scores. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) should prioritize reintroduction efforts at a combination of sites identified here as Moderately to Highly Suitable (scores of 16.5 or above) in all three models, and should make specific plans according to the strengths and weaknesses that I identified for each site. This will provide better conditions for the survival of the species, ecosystem health, and, importantly, cost-effectiveness. As natural apex predators, red wolves have a unique ability to help restore health and balance to our ecosystems of the southeast. This will benefit wildlife, natural systems, and people.

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Drobes, Emily (2022). RED WOLF CONSERVATION IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24886.


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