Timing of Protection of Critical Habitat Matters

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Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. With many conservation issues requiring urgent action, determining how much data are needed to inform good decisions is a common problem. We examine this problem in relation to the protection of critical habitat, the habitat required for species’ recovery and persistence. The protection of critical habitat is an essential step in the threatened species recovery process. It is also one of the most contentious and protracted decisions faced by environmental agencies. Uncertainty about what constitutes critical habitat, and the challenges of balancing competing societal objectives and of protecting critical habitat once identified are stalling the recovery process. We offer insight into this challenge by investigating how long we can afford to spend identifying critical habitat before opportunities to recover a species are lost. We illustrate our decision model using Canada's threatened northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana). Our method delivers the stopping time at which habitat protection must begin, despite uncertainty, in order to avoid an unacceptable risk of extinction.






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Martin, TG, AE Camaclang, HP Possingham, LA Maguire and I Chadès (2017). Timing of Protection of Critical Habitat Matters. Conservation Letters, 10(3). pp. 308–316. 10.1111/conl.12266 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15182.

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Lynn A. Maguire

Professor of the Practice Emeritus

Dr. Maguire's current research uses a combination of methods from decision analysis, environmental conflict resolution and social psychology to study environmental decision making. She focuses on collaborative decision processes where values important to the general public and stakeholders must be combined with technical analysis to determine management strategies. Her recent applications of decision analysis include the management of rare species, invasive species, and wildfire risk. Dr. Maguire is also using the principles of decision analysis to improve multicriteria rating systems, such as those used to set conservation priorities, and to develop frameworks used to value ecosystem services. She is involved in both empirical and conceptual research on perceptions of the time value of environmental resources, such as endangered species, and on the mismatches in timescales of ecological, social and political systems. Recent and current collaborations on timescales, ecosystem services and prioritization of endangered species recovery efforts have been facilitated by the National Center for Socioenvironmental Synthesis (SESYNC).

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