Protecting endangered species in the USA requires both public and private land conservation

Abstract: Crucial to the successful conservation of endangered species is the overlap of their ranges with protected areas. We analyzed protected areas in the continental USA to assess the extent to which they covered the ranges of endangered tetrapods. We show that in 80% of ecoregions, protected areas offer equal (25%) or worse (55%) protection for species than if their locations were chosen at random. Additionally, we demonstrate that it is possible to achieve sufficient protection for 100% of the USA’s endangered tetrapods through targeted protection of undeveloped public and private lands. Our results highlight that the USA is likely to fall short of its commitments to halting biodiversity loss unless more considerable investments in both public and private land conservation are made.

Niall G. Clacy, John Draper, J Marshall Wolf, Umarfarooq A. Abdulwahab, Maya C. Pendleton, Soren Brothers, Janice Brahney, Jennifer Weathered, Edd Hammill, Trisha B. Atwood