Conservation Ecology

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Drastic measures are being taken by Channel Islands National Park to prevent the extirpation of the island fox (Urocyon littoralis). Island foxes are being bred in captivity and their survival monitored in the wild; golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) have been live-captured and translocated to distant locales and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), which are primarily piscivorous, are being reintroduced as a deterrent to nesting golden eagles, the primary cause of decline in foxes (Roemer et al. 2001b, 2002). Feral pigs, the food source responsible for attracting golden eagles, have been eradicated (Caut et al. 2006, Roemer et al. 2004). My research formed the cornerstone of a multi-agency plan to save this species from extinction (see Courchamp et al. 2003, Roemer & Wayne 2003, Roemer & Donlan 2004, 2005, Angulo et al. 2007, Bakker et al. 2009, Collins et al. 2009).

I've now turned my attention to several mammalian taxa within the Southwest. I have active research projects on black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus), banner-tailed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis) and both mid-sized and large carnivores. The work on prairie dogs centers on understanding the efficacy of reintroducing the species in the arid Southwest by examining their demography and ecophysiology (Facka et al. 2008, in press). The banner-tail work uses demographic and molecular genetic approaches to evaluate the viability of regional populations in New Mexico, and the carnivore work uses landscape genetic approaches to assess connectivity among protected lands within three US National Parks and across our international border with Mexico.

Recently, I had the good fortune of becoming involved with an esteemed group of conservation biologists, ecologists and paleobiologists led by my good friend and colleague, Dr. C. Josh Donlan. Our premise involves using our past to inform future conservation strategies by considering how an analysis of historical communities and ecosystems can be used to infer lost ecological and evolutionary processes and suggest alternative conservation measures (Donlan et al. 2005, 2006). This vision "Pleistocene Rewilding" has stirred much thought both among the scientific and public sectors; in 2005 the New York Times considered it one of the year's 25 best ideas!


Dr. Gary W. RoemerEmail: groemer@nmsu.edu