Finding Opportunities for Pre-Compliance Species Conservation in North Carolina

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Whelan, Andrew


Pimm, Stuart L.
Profeta, Timothy H

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Pre-compliance conservation involves landowners working cooperatively with conservation managers to conserve imperiled yet unprotected species. This strategy has the potential to conserve many species by bypassing a long and contentions listing process under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) wants to pursue pre-compliance measures in North Carolina. Unfortunately, species require different mitigation strategies on the basis of the stressors they face and their unique suites of life history traits. EDF is unclear which strategies could potentially conserve the greatest number of species.

This masters project identifies pre-compliance programs with the potential to protect multiple species. I targeted wetland or aquatic species that are imperiled yet unprotected, and focused on four North Carolina regions that had large numbers of target populations. I conducted a spatial threat analysis to identify the main stressor within each region, and identified potential mitigation techniques for each of these stressors. I then analyzed policy tools that might be used to implement these mitigation techniques. Finally, I conducted a literature review on the life history characteristics of the target species to ensure that the chosen mitigation techniques and policy tools aligned with the dominant species traits in each region.

In western North Carolina, landowners should retrofit dams to naturalize stream flow conditions. In southern North Carolina, landowners should establish riparian buffers to limit runoff, reduce stream temperatures, and restore woody debris to aquatic ecosystems. In eastern North Carolina, landowners should establish riparian buffers and improve their management practices and technology. Threats in central North Carolina are more varied, and a combination of mitigation strategies may be needed. Several tools are available to implement these strategies, including Farm Bill conservation programs and federal guidelines to incorporate ecosystem services. This project hopes to provide a tool to aid EDF in its ability to optimize preemptive species conservation.





Whelan, Andrew (2013). Finding Opportunities for Pre-Compliance Species Conservation in North Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.