Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘status review’

New Jersey’s Species Status Review Process

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
HOW A SPECIES BECOMES LISTED AS “ENDANGERED” IN NEW JERSEY

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

How does the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) determine whether a species is imperiled or secure within the state? The process for determining a species’ state status is known as the “Delphi” method of species status review and it is a process which Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ (CWF) staff assists the state with.

Monarch adult edit

In 2015, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the monarch butterfly be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. Photo courtesy of Thomas Gorman.

The ENSP endeavors to complete a review of all species currently included on the Endangered and Nongame lists every 5-10 years. In addition, other species groups not currently included on those lists may be reviewed for status as well. At any given time, there may be several status reviews being conducted.

The first step taken in conducting a status review is to identify experts and invite them to participate as a member of a review panel. Members of the panel may be comprised of experts within academia, government agencies, non-profits, or private consultants as well as others.

Once a sufficient number of experts have agreed to participate, staff within the ENSP and CWF will compile background material for the species being reviewed. This may include reports, survey data, and data contained within the state’s Biotics database which is the electronic warehouse for all imperiled species data in New Jersey. This background data, as well as a list of the species being reviewed, and definitions of the status options, are then sent to the panelists for Round 1 of the review.

Delphi reviews are comprised of multiple “Rounds”. For each round, each panelist will choose a status for each species based upon that panelist’s expertise as well as the background material. The panelist then sends their selections and justification regarding each species to ENSP or CWF staff who compile the results submitted by all panelists. The review is completed anonymously, so the panelists do not know the identities of the other participants.

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the eastern hognose snake be added to the state's list of Special Concern species. © Thomas Gorman

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the eastern hognose snake be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. © Thomas Gorman

For each species, the panel must reach consensus of at least 85% of the respondents for a species’ status to be determined. If consensus is not reached during the first round, then that species will move on to be reviewed in Round 2. For each new round, the panelists’ status choices during the prior round, as well as all the comments made, are available to the panel, so that reviewers can consider the weight of evidence and other reviewers’ opinions on status as they prepare to vote again. This continues until consensus is reached for all species under review.

Once consensus is reached for all species or, if after four rounds have passed and consensus could not be reached for some species, ENSP or CWF staff will take the compiled Delphi results to the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee (ENSAC). ENSAC reviews the results and makes the final recommendations on status for those species for which consensus was not reached by the expert panel. Based upon ENSAC’s recommendations, any changes to the Endangered and Nongame lists must go through a formal rule-making process before those changes can be made official.

The Delphi review process is a science-based, anonymous review by those with the most expertise on the species within New Jersey. A great deal of thought and time go into preparing for and carrying out a review and CWF has played a major role in assisting with the process. From the blue whale to fairy shrimp, each species will ultimately receive a state status, leading the way for conservation action.


The following are state conservation status categories; the last, “Not Applicable”, is used only during the status review and is not a legal status category.

  • Endangered
    Applies to species whose prospects for survival within the state are in immediate danger due to one or several factors, such as loss or degradation of habitat, overexploitation, predation, competition, disease or environmental pollution, etc. An Endangered species likely requires immediate action to avoid extinction within New Jersey.
  • Threatened
    Applies to species that may become Endangered if conditions surrounding it begin to or continue to deteriorate. Thus, a Threatened species is one that is already vulnerable as a result of small population size, restricted range, narrow habitat affinities, significant population decline, etc.
  • Special Concern
    Applies to species that warrant special attention because of inherent vulnerability to environmental deterioration or habitat modification that would result in their becoming Threatened. This category would also be applied to species that meet the forgoing criteria and for which there is little understanding of their current population status in the state.
  • Secure/Stable
    Applies to species that appear to be secure in New Jersey and not in danger of falling into any of the preceding three categories in the near future.
  • Undetermined/Unknown
    Applies to a species that cannot be assigned a status of endangered, threatened, special concern or secure/stable because not enough information exists on which to base a judgment.
  • Not Applicable
    Applies to species that do not occur in New Jersey, including occasional non-breeding strays and transient breeders that fail to persist.

Fight for the Flight: Monarch Butterfly Status Under Review

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By: Julianne Maksym, Intern 


A monarch butterfly emerges from a chrysalis in the wild. (Courtesy: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

As the summer leaves turn brown and children head back to school, flutters of black and orange wings flitter through the skies over the beaches in Cape May. As part of its yearly migration from Canada to Mexico, the monarch butterfly passes through New Jersey in search of a warmer climate for the blistery cold winter months. Multiple generations make the trek, leaving in the fall and returning in late spring.

 

During the summer months, the monarch can be found throughout the United States where milkweed, the species’ host plant, is plentiful. Milkweed provides nutrients to hungry caterpillars as well as space for mature females to lay their eggs. Although an adult monarch may lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime, it has now been discovered fewer and fewer butterflies make the migration each year.

 

Losses of habitat and milkweed plants, the insect’s sole food source, are having tremendously devastating effects. According to a petition from butterfly advocates, the North American population has declined by more than 90 percent based on comparisons of the most recent population size estimates to the 20-year average. Numbers of monarch butterflies east of the Rockies dropped to the lowest record ever, signifying a decline of more than 90% since 1995. Monarch numbers west of the Rockies showed a similar decline of more than 50% since 1997. These figures suggest a significant predicament as the North American population represents the vast majority of all monarchs in the world. Without it, the entire species is vulnerable to extinction.

 

On December 29th, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has reason to believe a listing may be necessary due to considerable evidence from a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Lincoln Brower. The petition stated that habitat destruction and loss of milkweed due to pesticide use are two of the most contributing factors to the declining monarch population. Other factors include disease and predation, overutilization for commercial purposes, and lack of existing conservation procedures.

 

To begin the status review, the Service is requesting scientific and commercial data and other information through a 60-day public information period. The Service is specifically seeking information regarding the following:

  • Subspecies’ biology, range and population trends, habitat requirements, genetics and taxonomy
  • Historical and current range, including distribution patterns
  • Historical and current population levels and current and projected trends;
  • Life history or behavior of the monarch butterfly that has not yet been documented
  • Thermo-tolerance range and microclimate requirements of the monarch butterfly
  • Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its habitat or both
  • Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination under section 4(a) of the ESA

 

Starting on December 31, information can be submitted via www.regulations.gov by entering docket number FWS-R3-ES-2014-0056 in the search box and clicking on “Comment Now!” The information collection period will be open until March 2, 2015.

 

Until a decision has been made, take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is the monarch butterfly. Consider planting a few milkweed plants in your garden or speaking out against the overuse of pesticides. As much as the monarch butterfly’s migration is a group effort, the conservation of these beautiful creatures is even more so.

 

Julianne Maksym is a graduate wildlife intern for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

  • Subscribe!

    Enter your email address to subscribe to the Conserve Wildlife Blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Support Conserve Wildlife Foundation

    Support our efforts to protect New Jersey’s rarest animals, restore important habitat, and foster pride in New Jersey’s rich wildlife heritage.

    Join - Donate - Adopt a Species
  • Recent Comments