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Predicting Recovery Criteria for Threatened and Endangered Plant Species on the Basis of Past Abundances and Biological Traits

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Abstract

Recovery plans for species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are required to specify measurable criteria that can be used to determine when the species can be delisted. For the 642 listed endangered and threatened plant species that have recovery plans, we applied recursive partitioning methods to test whether the number of individuals or populations required for delisting can be predicted on the basis of distributional and biological traits, previous abundance at multiple time steps, or a combination of traits and previous abundances. We also tested listing status (threatened or endangered) and the year the recovery plan was written as predictors of recovery criteria. We analyzed separately recovery criteria that were stated as number of populations and as number of individuals (population‐based and individual‐based criteria, respectively). Previous abundances alone were relatively good predictors of population‐based recovery criteria. Fewer populations, but a greater proportion of historically known populations, were required to delist species that had few populations at listing compared with species that had more populations at listing. Previous abundances were also good predictors of individual‐based delisting criteria when models included both abundances and traits. The physiographic division in which the species occur was also a good predictor of individual‐based criteria. Our results suggest managers are relying on previous abundances and patterns of decline as guidelines for setting recovery criteria. This may be justifiable in that previous abundances inform managers of the effects of both intrinsic traits and extrinsic threats that interact and determine extinction risk.

Predicción de Criterios de Recuperación para Especies de Plantas en Peligro y Amenazadas con Base en Abundancias Pasadas y Atributos Biológicos
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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