Representative Species and Priority Species
Will the Northeast Region shift attention from priority federal trust species to this new list of surrogate/representative species to justify our actions such as refuge acquisition or management?
No, a representative species, or a list of representative species, on its own should not be used to prioritize or justify conservation actions or to shift attention away from priority species of highest regional and national responsibility or concern. In the Northeast Region, we are selecting representative species to allow staff to conduct detailed biological planning, conservation design and monitoring for priority species by using a subset of species that best represents the larger set of priority species for landscape conservation. By conducting biological planning, conservation design and monitoring with these representative species - such as modeling the impact of land use change and climate change on the ability of habitats and landscapes to sustain these species - staff will be better able to understand, target and evaluate the effectiveness of conservation actions in the face of threats and change for priority species. The Northeast Region will continue to test the assumption that planning and design using these representative species does in fact represent the needs of the larger set of priority species and continue to plan for individual species that have unique threats or needs that are not represented.
Example: By planning, designing and monitoring for Eastern brook trout, resource managers are learning about cold water stream sites that are likely to be most resilient to climate change and the possible actions that could make those sites more resilient for brook trout, and also for other species such as freshwater mussels. Biolgocial planning, conservation design and monitoring for brook trout will focus efforts and inform our actions for cold water systems and species in the eastern U.S. in general. Attention will still need to be paid to the unique needs and threats of mussels and other priority species using these systems.