News - Conservation Science Partners
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New CSP study focusing on the movement ecology of the Mojave desert tortoise

Understanding patterns and drivers of animal movement is essential for the development of comprehensive conservation and management plans. Movement can be impeded by natural factors as well as by human-induced changes to the environment. For instance, the placement of buildings, roads, and fences may restrict natural animal movement processes such as foraging, dispersal, and gene flow. Similarly, climate change may impact animal movements independently or in tandem with landscape change by affecting exposure stress, limiting dispersal, and increasing disease transmission rates.READ MORE

CSP, CAP partner on an analysis for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

One of CSP’s latest studies quantifies resources within a unique marine national monument that may lose critical protections.

Established in September 2016 by President Obama, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument lies off the coast of New England. This monument supports a unique and exceptionally diverse array of sea life, including sea turtles, endangered whales, seabirds, and at least 73 species of rare deep-sea corals. It also features four seamounts—extinct underwater volcanoes— and three deep sea canyons.

The monument now faces an uncertain future because of recent executive orders that reflect the current administration’s desire to open the area up to energy exploration and production. Although many claims have been made about the ocean resources within the monument, little work has actually been conducted to quantify these resources.READ MORE

New study finds that fragmented habitat increases extinction risk in mammals

In a first-of-its-kind study, CSP’s Dave Theobald and others develop a series of high-resolution models to assess how habitat fragmentation impacts extinction risk for mammals on a global scale.

CSP was part of an international team of researchers that examined habitat fragmentation for over 4,000 species of land-dwelling mammals across the globe. The team used high-resolution models and comparative analyses to measure fragmentation and to assess its relationship to extinction risk. In addition to documenting the conservation status of animals and plants, the team produced global maps that predicted areas of intact, high-quality habitat — as well as fragmentation hot spots. They found that mammals within highly fragmented areas enjoyed smaller ranges and a lower proportion of high-suitability habitat. They also determined that most high-suitability habitat occurred outside of protected areas, further elevating extinction risk.READ MORE

New paper by CSP Associate Scientist Shelley Crausbay

An exploration of fire and large-scale forest impacts over the last 14,000 years identifies rapid climate changes as a key factor.

Shelley Crausbay, one of CSP’s Associate Scientists, along with colleagues from the Universities of Washington and Montana, recently published a paper in the journal Ecology on the role of fire in shaping the composition and structure of lowland forests in the Pacific Northwest. The team looked at stand-scale paleorecords of vegetation and fire spanning nearly 14,000 years for a forest in western Washington. This information was used to characterize the relationship between fire and rapid changes in the forest vegetation.READ MORE

Team CSP-SBI takes 2nd place in the Iron Horse Classic

Mark Aasmundstad does it again!

Team CSP-SBI recently competed in the 46th annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic — a steep, 47-mile ride between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. Held each year on Memorial Day weekend, the IHBC is one of the most popular races in the western U.S. Mark Aasmundstad, Team CSP-SBI’s leader, placed second in the men’s pro division — and in the overall race —completing the ride on just under 2 hours and 24 minutes! CSP had a great turnout, with three riders in the citizen’s race, including board member Tom Sisk.

Visit Mark’s blog to see photos and read a recap of his experience!READ MORE

Occupancy modeling: A look at study design, and an application for the giant gartersnake

CSP publishes two papers on occupancy modeling—one that looks at optimal sampling methods and another that predicts the types of areas the giant gartersnake is most likely to inhabit.

Occupancy modeling is frequently used to study the spatial distributions of species — in other words, to determine why species occur in some locations but not others. In one recent study, CSP’s Rick Scherer and Brett Dickson collaborated with colleagues from universities, federal agencies, and private organizations to evaluate the field methods used to collect data for avifaunal occupancy models. In another, they used an occupancy model to evaluate the spatial distribution of a threatened species, the giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas).READ MORE

New habitat connectivity model for jaguar released

The CSP team develops new maps of potential jaguar habitat connectivity that are suitable for transportation and conservation planning in the borderlands region.

A group of CSP scientists — Dave Theobald, Vincent Landau, Meredith McClure, and Brett Dickson — has crafted a habitat connectivity model for jaguars in a study area that focuses on northern Sonora and southern Arizona. This model builds on previous work by the Wildlife Conservation Society but expands the study area and uses data that is significantly higher in resolution. The map generated by this model indicates that a substantial amount of potentially suitable jaguar habitat likely extends north of Interstate 10 within Arizona and New Mexico. It also provides information about the potential pathways jaguars use to move across the Sonoran landscape.READ MORE

New CSP study identifies areas where urban development is most likely to affect puma habitat and movement in Arizona

Our connectivity analysis found that the most vulnerable areas lie to the north and east of Phoenix and along interstate highways in the western portion of the state.

Meredith McClure (CSP), Brett Dickson (CSP), and Kerry Nicholson (Alaska Department of Fish and Game) recently published a study in Ecology and Evolution that examines the future of puma habitat and movement pathways in Arizona. Pumas are common in both northern Arizona, where they inhabit forests and other types of vegetation communities, and southern Arizona, where they tend to occupy more mountainous or rugged areas. Because pumas can move over long distances, their population connectivity is threatened by urbanized areas and roads, which form barriers to movement and migration.READ MORE

Study highlights a disconnect between science, policy, and implementation — a recipe for missed freshwater conservation opportunities

Scientific methods for assessing ecological integrity have grown more sophisticated and reliable in recent decades; however, the integration of assessment results into management and conservation practices has not kept pace with these advances.

CSP’s Dave Theobald participated in a study, along with researchers from the University of Washington and Portland State University, that took a critical look at how assessments of ecological integrity are conducted — and whether they are indeed effective at meeting the goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). Ecological integrity, a cornerstone of this landmark environmental legislation, was intended to guide the management and conservation of wetlands, lakes, streams, riparian areas, and watersheds. The term describes the ability of an ecosystem to support and maintain ecological processes and a diverse community of organisms.READ MORE

Bears Ears National Monument: An assessment of conservation values and potential threats

CSP finds that the newly protected Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) presents a significant opportunity to conserve key elements of ecological function across the western U.S.

On December 28, 2016, President Obama designated, by proclamation, 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah as BENM. Although these lands, which surround Natural Bridges National Monument and border both Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation area, are now protected, they still face serious threats associated with political pressures to develop the region’s abundant oil, gas, and mineral resources, which include uranium, vanadium, and copper.

BENM is known for its spectacular landscapes and antiquities — ancient cliff dwellings, rock art and ceremonial sites. It is also home to species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the California condor, Mexican spotted owl, and greenback cutthroat trout.READ MORE