David Stokes: Saving all the pieces

California tiger salamander
Photo: John Cleckler, USFWS

IAS faculty member David Stokes and others published Saving all the pieces: an inadequate conservation strategy for an endangered amphibian in an urbanizing area in the journal Biological Conservation. The paper reports on the results of a long-term (19 year) study of the federally endangered Sonoma population of the California tiger salamander in the rapidly urbanizing North-Bay area near San Francisco.

As the area has developed, grassland habitats with vernal pools have been converted to residential, commercial, and intensive agricultural uses, and the salamander has become confined to small isolated patches of remaining semi-natural habitat.  Although all known breeding populations of this species were protected in preserves at the time the species was listed, salamander larval densities declined sharply over the course of the study and populations on some preserves became extinct, indicating that a conservation strategy of merely protecting remaining  populations on the remnant habitat patches where they occur is unlikely to avert the extinction of this species, and that more active conservation and restoration measures are required.  This lesson will likely apply to many more species in a world of increasing urbanization, habitat loss, and changing climate.

Citation

Stokes, D.L., Messerman, A.F., Cook, D.G., Stemle, L., Meisler, J.A., and C.A. Searcy. 2021. Saving all the pieces: an inadequate conservation strategy for an endangered amphibian in an urbanizing area. Biological Conservation 262 (October 2021) 109320

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