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.
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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.
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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.
This research was not supported by external funding.
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The authors report no conflicts of interest or competing interests.
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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.
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Communicated by Daniel Sanchez Mata.
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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
- Endangered species
- Natural history
- Experimental introduction