Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8499
Title: Consistent Extinction Risk Assessment under the U.S. Endangered Species Act
Author: Charlotte Boyd, D. P. DeMaster, Robin S. Waples, E. J. Ward, Barbara L. Taylor
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Conservation Letters
Keywords: ESA,listing,endangered species,criteria

Identifying species at risk of extinction is essential for effective conservation priority-setting in the face of accelerating biodiversity loss. However, the levels of risk that lead to endangered or threatened listing decisions under the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA) are not well defined. We used a Bayesian population modeling approach to estimate levels of risk consistently for 14 marine species previously assessed under the ESA. For each species, we assessed the risks of declining below various abundance thresholds over various time horizons. We found that high risks of declining below 250 mature individuals within five generations matched well with ESA endangered status, while number of populations was useful for distinguishing between threatened and “not warranted” species. The risk assessment framework developed here could enable more consistent, predictable, and transparent ESA status assessments in the future.

Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Describe the relationships between human activities and species recovery, rebuilding and sustainability.
Develop methods to use physiological, biological and behavioral information to predict population-level processes.
Official Citation:

Boyd C, DeMaster DP, Waples RS, Ward EJ, Taylor BL.  2017.  Consistent extinction risk assessment for marine species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  Conservation Letters 10:328-336.