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Keywords:

  • Accipiter gentiles;
  • Bayesian Belief Network models;
  • focal species;
  • Gulo gulo;
  • habitat modeling;
  • northern goshawk;
  • viability;
  • wolverine

Abstract

Regulations and directives associated with enabling legislation for management of national forests in the United States require maintenance of viable populations of native and desired non-native wildlife species. Broad-scale assessments that address ecosystem diversity cover assessment of viability for most species. We developed an 8-step process to address those species for which management for ecosystem diversity may be inadequate for providing ecological conditions capable of sustaining viable populations. The process includes identification of species of conservation concern, description of source habitats, and other important ecological factors, grouping species, selection of focal species, development of focal species assessment models, development of conservation strategies, and designing monitoring, and adaptive management plans. Following application of our screening criteria, we identified 209 of 700 species as species of conservation concern on National Forest System lands east of the crest of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington State, USA. We aggregated the 209 species of conservation concern into 10 families and 28 groups based primarily on habitat associations (these are not phylogenetic families). We selected 36 primary focal species (78% birds, 17% mammals, 5% amphibians) for application in northeast Washington State, USA based on risk factors and ecological characteristics. Our assessment documented reductions in habitat capability across northeast Washington State compared to historical conditions. To address such changes, for each focal species we developed conservation strategies that included habitat protection and restoration and amelioration of threats. We combined conservation strategies for individual species with other focal species and with management proposals for other resources (e.g., recreation, fire, and fuels management) to develop a multi-species, multi-resource management strategy. The information generated from our approach can be directly translated into land management planning through development of desired conditions, objectives, and standards and guidelines to improve the probability that desired population outcomes will be achieved. However, it should be noted by practitioners that a practical conservation planning process, such as ours, cannot remove all uncertainty and risk to species viability. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.