Assessing the impact of the U.S. Endangered Species Act recovery planning guidelines on managing threats for listed species

Caitlin M. Troyer, Leah Gerber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of the United States was enacted in 1973 to prevent the extinction of species. Recovery plans, required by 1988 amendments to the ESA, play an important role in organizing these efforts to protect and recover species. To improve the use of science in the recovery planning process, the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) commissioned an independent review of endangered species recovery planning in 1999. From these findings, the SCB made key recommendations for how management agencies could improve the recovery planning process, after which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service redrafted their recovery planning guidelines. One important recommendation called for recovery plans to make threats a primary focus, including organizing and prioritizing recovery tasks for threat abatement. We sought to determine the extent to which results from the SCB study were incorporated into these new guidelines and whether the SCB recommendations regarding threats manifested in recovery plans written under the new guidelines. Recovery planning guidelines generally incorporated the SCB recommendations, including those for managing threats. However, although recent recovery plans have improved in their treatment of threats, many fail to adequately incorporate threat monitoring. This failure suggests that developing clear guidelines for monitoring should be an important priority in improving ESA recovery planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1423-1433
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Extinction
  • Monitoring
  • Recovery plan guidelines
  • Threats
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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