Optimism and challenge for science-based conservation of migratory species in and out of U.S. national parks

Joel Berger, Steven L. Cain, Ellen Cheng, Peter Dratch, Kevin Ellison, John Francis, Herbert C. Frost, Scott Gende, Craig Groves, William A. Karesh, Elaine Leslie, Gary Machlis, Rodrigo A. Medellin, Reed F. Noss, Kent H. Redford, Michael Soukup, David Wilcove, Steve Zack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Public agencies sometimes seek outside guidance when capacity to achieve their mission is limited. Through a cooperative agreement and collaborations with the U.S. National Park Service (NPS), we developed recommendations for a conservation program for migratory species. Although NPS manages ~36 million hectares of land and water in 401 units, there is no centralized program to conserve wild animals reliant on NPS units that also migrate hundreds to thousands of kilometers beyond parks. Migrations are imperiled by habitat destruction, unsustainable harvest, climate change, and other impediments. A successful program to counter these challenges requires public support, national and international outreach, and flourishing migrant populations. We recommended two initial steps. First, in the short term, launch or build on a suite of projects for high-profile migratory species that can serve as proof to demonstrate the centrality of NPS units to conservation at different scales. Second, over the longer term, build new capacity to conserve migratory species. Capacity building will entail increasing the limited knowledge among park staff about how and where species or populations migrate, conditions that enable migration, and identifying species' needs and resolving them both within and beyond parks. Building capacity will also require ensuring that park superintendents and staff at all levels support conservation beyond statutory borders. Until additional diverse stakeholders and a broader American public realize what can be lost and do more to protect it and engage more with land management agencies to implement actions that facilitate conservation, long distance migrations are increasingly likely to become phenomena of the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology


  • Capacidad de planeación
  • Conservación
  • Conservation
  • Migración
  • Migration
  • National parks
  • Parques nacionales
  • Planning capacity


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