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Nature Preserves, Natural Areas, and the Conservation of Endangered and Threatened Species in Illinois

  • James R. Herkert

Abstract

One of the big questions in conservation biology is how to design effective conservation programs in highly fragmented landscapes where little natural habitat remains. To direct limited resources in these landscapes, a solid framework for conservation efforts is needed. Illinois provides a good case study because much of its natural landscape was cleared early. By 1900, more than 97% of the state’s prairies and roughly 75% of the state’s original forests had been lost (Graber and Graber 1963). Today, Illinois remains one of the most intensively disturbed landscapes in the eastern United States (O’Neill et al. 1988). Illinois also has an extensive history of early biological study and cataloging (e.g., Kennicott 1855; Ulffers 1855; Forbs 1876; Ridgway 1889, 1895; Needham and Hart 1901; Forbs and Richardson 1908; Garman 1917). Therefore, there is a large historical database on which to evaluate the effectiveness of modem conservation actions and programs. Yet despite the high degree of disturbance in the state, Illinois has lost surprisingly few species (see review by Post 1991). This may be due in part to the fact that Illinois has an extensive network of legally protected preserves. Primack (1993) has suggested that establishing legally designated protected areas is one of the most critical steps in protecting biological communities. Additionally, Illinois has a tradition of assertive conservation action by groups such as Friends of Our Native Landscapes, the Natural Land Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (formerly the Department of Conservation). It is therefore a good place to examine the effects of a well-organized, focused conservation effort. Because of its relatively long history of conservation programs (Schwartz 1994), Illinois may be able to provide a template for conservation in other highly fragmented landscapes.

Keywords

Natural Area Threatened Species Conservation Biology Fragmented Landscape Small Remnant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Herkert
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois Endangered Species Protection BoardSpringfieldUSA

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