Saving Endangered Species Using Adaptive Management

Robert Serrouya
Dale Seip
Dave Hervieux
Bruce McLellan
Scott McNay
Robin Steenweg
Doug Heard
Mark Hebblewhite
Michael Gillingham
Stan Boutin
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Adaptive management is a powerful means of learning about complex ecosystems, but is rarely used for recovering endangered species. Here, we demonstrate how it can benefit woodland caribou, which became the first large mammal extirpated from the contiguous United States in recent history. The continental scale of forest alteration and extended time needed for forest recovery means that relying only on habitat protection and restoration will likely fail. Therefore, population management is also needed as an emergency measure to avoid further extirpation. Reductions of predators and overabundant prey, translocations, and creating safe havens have been applied in a design covering >90,000 km2 . Combinations of treatments that increased multiple vital rates produced the highest population growth. Moreover, the degree of ecosystem alteration did not influence this pattern. By coordinating recovery involving scientists, governments, and First Nations, treatments were applied across vast scales to benefit this iconic species