Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1007
Title: A Practical Comparison of Viability Models Used for Management of Endangered and Threatened Anadromous Pacific Salmonids
Author: D. S. Busch, Paul McElhany, M. H. Ruckelshaus, D. A. Boughton, T. Cooney, Peter W. Lawson, Steven T. Lindley, Michelle M. McClure, N. J. Sands, B. C. Spence, Thomas C. Wainwright, T. H. Williams
Publication Year: 2013
Journal: North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Volume: 33
Pages: 1125-1141
DOI: 10.1080/02755947.2013.824933
Keywords: population viability analysis, extinction risk, viability criteria, Pacific salmon, Endangered Species Act

We ask if population viability analyses give similar estimates of extinction risk across management contexts. We compared the performance of population viability analyses developed by numerous scientific teams to estimate extinction risk of US Endangered Species Act-listed anadromous Pacific salmonids, challenging each with data from 34 populations. We found variation in estimated extinction risk among analytical techniques, driven by varying model assumptions and the inherent uncertainty of risk forecasts. This result indicates that the scientific teams developed techniques that perform differently. We recommend that managers minimize uncertainty in risk estimates by using multiple models tailored to local ecology. Assessment of relative extinction risk was less sensitive to model assumptions than absolute extinction risk, making it better for comparing population status and raising caution about conclusions regarding absolute extinction risk.