Skip to main content

Lessons from the reintroduction of listed plant species in California

Abstract

Reintroduction is an increasingly common practice to conserve and recover threatened and endangered plant species, so understanding how practitioners view their work and identifying persistent resource mismatches are key to the long-term viability of these listed species. We interviewed practitioners involved in reintroduction projects for 14 species in the state of California to understand (1) how they defined recovery; (2) their assessment of the likelihood of recovery; (3) what advice they would share with other practitioners to improve reintroduction efforts; and (4) what resources could make future projects more successful. Practitioners’ definitions of recovery aligned with ecological theory and emphasized the importance of self-sustaining populations and large populations, as well as the presence of multiple populations. However, most practitioners felt that recovery was unlikely or did not think the species they worked with should or would be de-listed without the guarantee of perpetual future interventions. Practitioners thought that studying basic biology and natural history, using experiments to determine the best techniques, and repeatedly planting populations were important to project success. However, practitioners also felt they were missing critical resources, including long-term funding for implementation and maintenance, successful and positive relationships between members of the practitioner-agency-scientist-landowner nexus, and assurances/safe harbor agreements for experimental populations. Overall, rare plant reintroductions are complicated by persistent mismatches in timing and goals, but some individuals have been able to successfully navigate these challenges. Longer duration funding mechanisms for monitoring and maintenance and better data handling, storage, and dissemination would benefit future projects.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Data availability

The datasets generated during and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available to protect the anonymity of respondents in the study, but aggregate and anonymized data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

Not applicable.

References

  1. Albrecht MA, Osazuwa-Peters OL, Maschinski J et al (2019) Effects of life history and reproduction on recruitment time lags in reintroductions of rare plants. Conserv Biol 33:601–611. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13255

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Arlettaz R, Schaub M, Fournier J et al (2010) From publications to public actions: when conservation biologists bridge the gap between research and implementation. Bioscience 60:835–842. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2010.60.10.10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bartholomeus RP, Witte JPM, Van Bodegom PM et al (2011) Climate change threatens endangered plant species by stronger and interacting water-related stresses. J Geophys Res Biogeosciences 116:1–14. https://doi.org/10.1029/2011JG001693

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bean MJ (2009) The endangered species act: Science, policy, and politics. Ann New York Acad Sci 1162:369–391

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Branton M, Richardson JS (2010) Assessing the value of the umbrella-species concept for conservation planning with meta-analysis. Conserv Biol 25:9–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01606.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Bruskotter JT, Vucetich JA, Slagle KM et al (2018) Support for the U.S. Endangered Species Act over time and space: controversial species do not weaken public support for protective legislation. Conserv Lett 11:e12595

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Clark TW, Clark SG (1997) Averting extinction: reconstructing endangered species recovery. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT

    Book  Google Scholar 

  8. Cook CN, Mascia MB, Schwartz MW et al (2013) Achieving conservation science that bridges the knowledge-action boundary. Conserv Biol 27:669–678. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12050

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  9. Dalrymple SE, Stewart GB, Pullin AS (2011) Are re-introductions an effective way of mitigating against plant extinctions? CEE review 07–008 (SR32). Collab Environ Evid 008:1–63

    Google Scholar 

  10. Dickens SJM, Suding KN (2014) Spanning the science-practice divide: why restoration scientists need to be more involved with practice. Ecol Restor 31:134–140. https://doi.org/10.1353/ecr.2013.0027

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Doak DF, Boor GKH, Bakker VJ et al (2015) Recommendations for improving recovery criteria under the US Endangered Species Act. Bioscience 65:189–199. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu215

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Doremus H, Pagel JE (2001) Why listing may be forever: perspectives on delisting under the U S. Endangered Species Act. Conserv Biol 15:1258–1268. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2001.00178.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Evans DM, Che-castaldo JP, Crouse D et al (2012) Species recovery in the United States: increasing the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. Issues Ecol 13:1–16

    Google Scholar 

  14. Eviner V (2014) Effects of weather variations on species composition and production in California’s grasslands. Grasslands 24:2–7

    Google Scholar 

  15. Foin TC, Pawley AL, Ayres DR et al (2006) Improving recovery planning for threatened and endangered species. Bioscience 48:177–184. https://doi.org/10.2307/1313263

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Gerber LR, Hatch LT (2002) Are we recovering? An evaluation of recovery criteria under the U.S Endangered Species Act. Ecol Appl 12:668–673. https://doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(2002)012[0668:AWRAEO]2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Godefroid S, Vanderborght T (2011) Plant reintroductions: the need for a global database. Biodivers Conserv 20:3683–3688. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-011-0120-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Godefroid S, Piazza C, Rossi G et al (2011) How successful are plant species reintroductions? Biol Conserv 144:672–682. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2010.10.003

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Goodman LA (1961) Snowball Sampling. Ann Math Stat 32:148–170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Gray BE (2007) The Endangered Species Act: Reform or Refutation? Hast West-Northwest J Environ Law Policy 13

  21. Guerrant EO (2012) Characterizing two decades of rare plant reintroductions. In: Maschinski J, Haskins KE (eds) Plant reintroduction in a changing climate: promises and perils. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 9–29

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  22. Guerrant EO (2013) The value and propriety of reintroduction as a conservation tool for rare plants. Botany 91:v–x. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjb-2012-0239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Guerrant EO, Kaye TN (2007) Reintroduction of rare and endangered plants: common factors, questions and approaches. Aust J Bot 55:362–370. https://doi.org/10.1071/BT06033

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Havens K, Vitt P, Maunder M et al (2006) Ex situ plant conservation and beyond. BioScience 56:525–531

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hodge I, Adams WM (2016) Short-term projects versus adaptive governance: conflicting demands in the management of ecological restoration. Land 5:39. https://doi.org/10.3390/land5040039

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Holl KD (2020) Primer of ecological restoration. Island Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  27. Holl KD, Hayes GF (2006) Challenges to introducing and managing disturbance regimes for Holocarpha macradenia, an endangered annual grassland forb. Conserv Biol 20:1121–1131. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00416.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Hölzel N, Buisson E, Dutoit T (2012) Species introduction–a major topic in vegetation restoration. Appl Veg Sci 15:161–165. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1654-109X.2012.01189.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kaye TN (2008) Vital steps toward success of endangered plant reintroductions. Nativ Plants J 9:313–322. https://doi.org/10.2979/NPJ.2008.9.3.313

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Maschinski J, Albrecht MA (2017) Center for plant conservation’s best practice guidelines for the reintroduction of rare plants. Plant Divers 39:390–395. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pld.2017.09.006

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. Maschinski J, Haskins KE (2012) Plant reintroduction in a changing climate: promises and perils. Island Press, Washington, DC

    Book  Google Scholar 

  32. Massey JR, Whitson PD (1980) Species biology, the key to plant preservation. Rhodora 82:97–103

    Google Scholar 

  33. Matzek V, Pujalet M, Cresci S (2015) What managers want from invasive species research versus what they get. Conserv Lett 8:33–40. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. McDonald-Madden E, Baxter PWJ, Fuller RA et al (2010) Monitoring does not always count. Trends Ecol Evol 25:547–550. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2010.07.002

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Meffe GK (2001) Crisis in a crisis discipline. Conserv Biol 15:303–304. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1523-1739.2001.015002303.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Menges ES (2000) Population viability analyses in plants: challenges and opportunities. Trends Ecol Evol 15:51–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0169-5347(99)01763-2

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Pavlik BM (1996) Defining and measuring success. Restoring diversity: strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 127–156

    Google Scholar 

  38. Pavlik BM (2003) Plants that protect ecosystems: a survey from California. Biodivers Conserv 12:717–729. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022420911839

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Roberge JM, Angelstam P (2004) Usefulness of the umbrella species concept as a conservation tool. Conserv Biol 18:76–85. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00450.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Rohlf DJ (2014) The Endangered Species Act at 40. Anim Law 20:251–275. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2013.63.12.4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Sarrazin F, Barbault R (1996) Reintroductions: challenges and lessons for basic ecology. Trends Ecol Evol 11:474–478. https://doi.org/10.1016/0169-5347(96)20092-8

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Scott JM, Goble DD, Wiens JA et al (2005) Recovery of imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act: the need for a new approach. Front Ecol Environ 3:383–389. https://doi.org/10.1890/1540-9295(2005)003[0383:ROISUT]2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Scott JM, Goble DD, Haines AM et al (2010) Conservation-reliant species and the future of conservation. Conserv Lett 3:91–97. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2010.00096.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Seddon PJ (2010) From reintroduction to assisted colonization: Moving along the conservation translocation spectrum. Restor Ecol 18:796–802

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Seddon PJ, Armstrong DP, Maloney RF (2007) Developing the science of reintroduction biology. Conserv Biol 21:303–312. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00627.x

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. Silva L, Dias EF, Sardos J et al (2015) Towards a more holistic research approach to plant conservation: the case of rare plants on oceanic islands. AoB Plants 7:1–18. https://doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv066

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Stuble KL, Fick SE, Young TP (2017) Every restoration is unique: testing year effects and site effects as drivers of initial restoration trajectories. J Appl Ecol 54:1051–1057. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12861

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Suding KN (2011) Toward an era of restoration in ecology: successes, failures, and opportunities ahead. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 42:465–487. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-102710-145115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Tewksbury JJ, Anderson JGT, Bakker JD et al (2014) Natural history’s place in science and society. Bioscience 64:300–310. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu032

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. The Center for Plant Conservation (2019) CPC best plant conservation practices to support species survival in the wild. Center for plant conservation, Escondido, CA

    Google Scholar 

  51. Traill LW, Brook BW, Frankham RR, Bradshaw CJA (2010) Pragmatic population viability targets in a rapidly changing world. Biol Conserv 143:28–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2009.09.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Wilson SD (2015) Managing contingency in semiarid grassland restoration through repeated planting. Restor Ecol 23:385–392. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12201

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We are thankful to all the practitioners who participated in this study. We also thank Peggy Fiedler, Diana Hickson, and Connie Rutherford for their early guidance in the design and topic of this study.

Funding

This research was not supported by external funding.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Josephine C. Lesage.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest or competing interests.

Ethics approval, consent to participate, and consent for publication

This research included human subjects. Subjects were not asked about sensitive or identifying information. All respondents consented to be included in the study, were informed of data management procedures (anonymization and storage) and acknowledged that their responses may be published prior to interviews.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Communicated by Daniel Sanchez Mata.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (docx 13 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lesage, J.C., Press, D. & Holl, K.D. Lessons from the reintroduction of listed plant species in California. Biodivers Conserv 29, 3703–3716 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-020-02045-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Endangered species
  • Perceptions
  • Recovery
  • Natural history
  • Monitoring
  • Experimental introduction