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Surrogate species are plants and animals that represent other species or aspects of the environment. A component of Strategic Habitat Conservation,this approach guides comprehensive conservation planning for multiple species and habitats within a defined landscape. The sheer number of species which the Service and our partners seek to conserve, and the growing complexity of challenges such as climate change and habitat fragmentation, require us to use new strategies to ensure self-sustaining fish and wildlife populations across large landscapes. Using surrogate species to focus our conservation efforts can help address the needs of a much larger set of species.


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Does the surrogate species approach have other real-world applications?

Managing Summit Superstore #36 was an award-winning experience for Anita Johnson
photo credit: greggavedon.com

What Do Surrogate Species Have 'In Store' for Conservation?


Surrogate species is a commonly-used scientific term for plants and animals that represent other species or aspects of the environment (e.g., water quality). Why?  Using surrogate species to focus the design, delivery, and monitoring of our conservation efforts can help address the needs of a much larger set of species we care about.  Does the surrogate species approach have other real-world applications?  Let’s read about one example.



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Washington Ground Squirrel

The Washington ground squirrel, a potential surrogate species for the Columbia Plateau
USFWS photo

Surrogate Species Case Study: The Columbia Plateau Ecoregion


As the Service introduces a surrogate species approach to landscape conservation, it helps to look at how this concept has already been applied successfully. In the Pacific Northwest, recent efforts by the Arid Lands Initiative, a diverse partnership of public, private and tribal interests, and the associated Washington Connected Landscapes Project present a case study of how a set of focal or representative species can be assembled and used to put Strategic Habitat Conservation into practice.



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Pacific Lamprey

Pacific Lamprey may be an effective surrogate species for Pacific Northwest waterways
USFWS Pacific

Applying Strategic Habitat Conservation to the Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative


What Service priority fish species boasts a 400 million-year ancestry, lacks bones, scales and jaws, and benefits from the Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC) framework?

 

If you guessed Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus), you are right. Lamprey, a native anadromous species that, like salmon, historically returned to spawn in large numbers into watersheds along the West Coast of the United States, have experienced population declines and restricted distribution throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California.



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