The dilemma of pest suppression in the conservation of endangered species

Conservation Biology
By: , and 
Edited by: Richard P. Urbanek

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Abstract

In the conservation of endangered species, active suppression of a population of one native species to benefit another native species poses particular challenges. Obvious examples include predator control and nest parasite reduction. Less obvious is the control of blood-feeding arthropods. We present a case study on the effect of blood-feeding black flies (Simulium spp.) on reintroduced Whooping Cranes (Grus americana). Our intent is to provide a transferrable, science-driven approach for determining the effects of blood-feeding arthropods on endangered vertebrates, and demonstrate an approach for guiding selection of management actions for managers faced with competing objectives. A multi-year experiment demonstrated that black flies reduce nest success in reintroduced cranes by driving the birds off their nests during incubation. Deciding how to respond, however, is complicated because the target black flies are native species that serve important ecological functions. We suggest that a decision-analytic approach can inspire the development of creative management alternatives and facilitate a transparent process that evaluates trade-offs among competing objectives. Recognizing that these decisions involve trade-offs, which must be weighed in the context of each case, is crucial to identifying alternatives that best balance multiple management objectives. Given the uncertainty about the population dynamics of blood-feeding arthropods, an adaptive management approach will offer substantial benefits. 

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The dilemma of pest suppression in the conservation of endangered species
Series title Conservation Biology
DOI 10.1111/cobi.13262
Volume 33
Issue 4
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher The Society for Conservation Biology
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 9 p.
First page 788
Last page 796
Country United States
State Wisconsin
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