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Conserv Biol. 2011 Apr;25(2):316-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01644.x. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

An adaptive-management framework for optimal control of hiking near golden eagle nests in Denali National Park.

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  • 1Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0485, USA. julienm@ufl.edu

Abstract

Unintended effects of recreational activities in protected areas are of growing concern. We used an adaptive-management framework to develop guidelines for optimally managing hiking activities to maintain desired levels of territory occupancy and reproductive success of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in Denali National Park (Alaska, U.S.A.). The management decision was to restrict human access (hikers) to particular nesting territories to reduce disturbance. The management objective was to minimize restrictions on hikers while maintaining reproductive performance of eagles above some specified level. We based our decision analysis on predictive models of site occupancy of eagles developed using a combination of expert opinion and data collected from 93 eagle territories over 20 years. The best predictive model showed that restricting human access to eagle territories had little effect on occupancy dynamics. However, when considering important sources of uncertainty in the models, including environmental stochasticity, imperfect detection of hares on which eagles prey, and model uncertainty, restricting access of territories to hikers improved eagle reproduction substantially. An adaptive management framework such as ours may help reduce uncertainty of the effects of hiking activities on Golden Eagles.

©2011 Society for Conservation Biology.

PMID:
21342265
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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