Assessing Conservation Priority Among South Carolina Stream Fishes

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 1:20 PM
Marriott Ballroom A (The Marriott Little Rock)
Kevin Kubach , Freshwater Fisheries Research, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Clemson, SC
Mark Scott , Freshwater Fisheries Research, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Clemson
Conservation priority indices provide a quantitative and objective method for ranking conservation need among species, a key process in deciding how limited resources are allocated. Using South Carolina Stream Assessment data and additional measures, we developed a conservation priority ranking method for South Carolina stream fishes incorporating four key attributes influencing the likelihood of imperilment due to anthropogenic alteration of ecosystems: (1) abundance, (2) frequency of occurrence, (3) range size / endemism and (4) existing range-wide conservation status. The index was designed under the rationale that conservation priority should be highest for species displaying lower abundance at a statewide scale, less frequent occurrence, a narrower overall distribution in North America, and/or existing recognition of imperilment in previous published assessments. Our assessment provided quantitative conservation rankings for 130 freshwater fish species and resulted in the designation of 58 Priority species in the revised (2013) South Carolina Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (i.e. Wildlife Action Plan). Based on our Priority scores, nine new species were added to the Priority list and five former Priority species (2005) were removed. This assessment represented the first known data-driven conservation ranking of freshwater fishes in South Carolina.