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Science, Conservation, and National Parks$
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Steven R. Beissinger, David D. Ackerly, Holly Doremus, and Gary E. Machlis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226422954

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226423142.001.0001

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The Science and Challenges of Conserving Large Wild Mammals in 21st-Century American Protected Areas

The Science and Challenges of Conserving Large Wild Mammals in 21st-Century American Protected Areas

(p.189) Nine The Science and Challenges of Conserving Large Wild Mammals in 21st-Century American Protected Areas
Science, Conservation, and National Parks

Joel Berger

University of Chicago Press

As the United States continues to grow beyond its current level of 320 million people, lands will become more crowded, parks will become more isolated, and species inimical to people will become less tolerated. Large mammals require extensive areas to survive, reproduce, and move. This chapter focuses on what is and is not known of the science of conserving large mammals in parks and the consequent conservation challenges. Using examples from human-dominated sites on the east and west coasts of the United States and the uncrowded Arctic, three key points emerge. First, in the contiguous United States, both carnivores and ungulates isolated from neighboring populations for as few as 75–100 years suffer from small population syndromes. Morphological deformities have appeared in cougars and bison. Second, more area will be needed to connect populations and alternative strategies developed for forced migration, when creation of dispersal corridors is no longer possible and additional lands are no longer available to conserve wild species. Third, serious climate challenges confront cold-adapted species including those in Arctic parks. Conservation science and human dimensions will continue to play important roles if species present in parks in the 19th century will be conserved for another 100 years.

Keywords:   climate change, conservation, corridors, dispersal, isolation, large mammals, migration

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