Nine endangered taxa, one recovering ecosystem: Identifying common ground for recovery on Santa Cruz Island, California

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Abstract

It is not uncommon to have several rare and listed taxa occupying habitats in one landscape or management area where conservation amounts to defense against the possibility of further loss. It is uncommon and extremely exciting, however, to have several listed taxa occupying one island that is managed cooperatively for conservation and recovery. On Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the northern California island group in the Santa Barbara Channel, we have a golden opportunity to marry ecological knowledge and institutional "good will" in a field test of holistic rare plant conservation. Here, the last feral livestock have been removed, active weed control is underway, and management is focused on understanding and demonstrating system response to conservation management. Yet funding limitations still exist and we need to plan the most fiscally conservative and marketable approach to rare plant restoration. We still experience the tension between desirable quick results and the ecological pace of system recovery. Therefore, our research has focused on identifying fundamental constraints on species recovery at individual, demographic, habitat, and ecosystem levels, and then developing suites of actions that might be taken across taxa and landscapes. At the same time, we seek a performance middle ground that balances an institutional need for quick demonstration of hands-on positive results with a contrasting approach that allows ecosystem recovery to facilitate species recovery in the long term. We find that constraints vary across breeding systems, life-histories, and island locations. We take a hybrid approach in which we identify several actions that we can take now to enhance population size or habitat occupancy for some taxa by active restoration, while allowing others to recover at the pace of ecosystem change. We make our recommendations on the basis of data we have collected over the last decade, so that management is firmly grounded in ecological observation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Nine endangered taxa, one recovering ecosystem: Identifying common ground for recovery on Santa Cruz Island, California
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher California Native Plant Society
Publisher location Sacramento, CA
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 6 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the CNPS Conservation Conference, 17-19 Jan 2009
First page 162
Last page 167
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Santa Cruz Island