Susan C. Walls, Lianne C. Ball, William J. Barichivich, C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr., Kevin M. Enge, Thomas A. Gorman, Katherine M. O'Donnell, John G. Palis, Raymond D. Semlitsch; Overcoming Challenges to the Recovery of Declining Amphibian Populations in the United States. BioScience 2017; 67 (2): 156-165. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw153
The US Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) affords many potential benefits to species threatened with extinction. However, most at-risk amphibians—one of the most imperiled vertebrate groups—remain unlisted under the provisions of the ESA, and many impediments to recovery exist for those species that have been listed. Of the 35 US amphibian species and distinct population segments (“taxa”) listed under the ESA, 40% currently lack a final (completed) recovery plan, 28.6% lack designated critical habitat, and 8.6% lack both. For taxa that have recovery plans, the time between their listing and the development of those plans was from 2 to 29 years, and the time between their listing and the designation of critical habitat ranged from 0 to 14 years. The underlying causes of such delays in protection are complex and constitute obstacles to recovery of imperiled species. We outline a series of strategic actions by which these challenges may be overcome.