Threatened, Endangered, and At Risk Terrestrial Species' Response to Multiple Stressors

SERDP projects advance Department of Defense (DoD) understanding of threatened, endangered, and at-risk species (TES) and their respective management. Of particular interest is the prediction of the effects of multiple stressor interactions within DoD relevant TES populations. The knowledge derived from such research would aid in the development of improved and more cost-effective ecosystem management methods. In 2022, SERDP selected projects to examine population response from multiple stressors on terrestrial species of relevance to the DoD.

RC Blog Feb 2022

Top Left - Mojave Desert Tortoise; Top Right - Least Bell’s Vireo; Bottom Left – Gopher Frog; Bottom Right – Mazama Pocket Gopher

Photo provided by SERDP Project RC22-3437

Dr. Brett Dickson from Conservation Science Partners and his team seek to fill critical knowledge gaps and advance scientific understanding of the population response of a DoD relevant species, the federally threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Specifically, the research will examine varying levels of exposure from multiple stressors, over time and across the range of the species. The project team will connect and build from various tortoise research efforts that, to date, have been independently implemented within and among multiple management jurisdictions. This project will address important knowledge gaps for a priority DoD species and enable the development of cohesive, range-wide management strategies aimed toward more effective ecosystem and priority species recovery initiatives and partnerships between agencies ( Project Overview).

In another selected project, Dr. Richard Fischer from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (USACE-ERDC) and his team will develop a spatially explicit agent-based model, called Recovering Endangered Species with Emerging Threats (RESET), to understand the effects of individual and interacting threats and stressors on Least Bell’s Vireo (LBVI, Vireo bellii pusillus) populations and to develop alternative management strategies to address them. RESET will provide a novel tool to DoD, USACE, and other action agencies for predicting the effects of specific stressors, and stressor management strategies, on LBVI populations locally, regionally, or at the scale of the listed population (Project Overview).

Dr. Joshua King at the University of Central Florida and his team will seek to better understand the widespread stressors of fire, fire ant density, and cattle grazing interactions that affect populations of various TES (birds, herpetofauna, mammals) on DoD and adjacent lands of the southeastern U.S. Results will be used to inform population models for TES, and model outputs will be used to develop ecosystem-based management strategies to mitigate the interactive threats of these common stressors on multiple co-distributed TES of birds, herpetofauna, and mammals in upland ecosystems ( Project Overview).

Dr. Joshua Lawler at the University of Washington and his team will explore the nature, the drivers, and the impacts of interactions among multiple stressors affecting at-risk populations. The project team will model populations of the Golden-cheeked Warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia) and Black-capped Vireo (Vireo atricapilla) at Fort Hood, and the Streaked Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris strigata), Mazama pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama), and the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha taylori) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The results will provide guidance for the management of five at-risk species on two different installations in the face of multiple, interacting stressors (Project Overview available soon).

Collectively, these new projects are advancing the scientific predictability and effects of multiple stressor interactions amongst DoD-relevant TES populations. To learn more about SERDP and ESTCP’s TES research and demonstration efforts, visit the Species Management page.

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