Paul Angermeier, professor of fish conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, is co-editor of a new textbook on reintroducing fish and wildlife species into regions where they once thrived but now no longer live.
“The book synthesizes current scientific understanding of reintroduction of animal species,” Angermeier said. “The underlying theme is to meld societal goals, institutional capacity, and scientific knowledge . . . Our goal for ‘Reintroduction of Fish and Wildlife Populations’ was to bridge the technical with widely applicable information.”
The book’s chapters describe the benefits the highlighted species provide and include information on both failures and successes of reintroduction projects.
In the United States, much of the species reintroduction effort occurs in the western states by public agencies on public lands, such as the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. In addition, private organizations such as Trout Unlimited are actively working on restoration projects in many regions.
“This book focuses on those species that have suffered via human interventions,” Angermeier said.
Over-hunting and over-fishing were primary causes of some losses, for example, of the American bison, passenger pigeon, and lake trout. The most pervasive current causes of species decline are human-mediated habitat alteration and destruction as well as the introduction of exotic species.
“Alterations, such as the construction of a dam, often occur too quickly or too dramatically for a species to adapt,” Angermeier said. “Reintroduction becomes feasible when environmental conditions are restored to the point that the original species can once again make a go of it. Purposeful reintroduction is often the only way to get a species back where it ‘belongs.’”
The editors expect that practitioners of wildlife conservation and researchers will use the book in their work and that it also will be a textbook for advanced studies of species reintroduction and conservation biology.
Angermeier serves as assistant leader of the Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and is affiliated with Virginia Tech’s Fralin Life Science Institute and Global Change Center. His research focuses on freshwater ecosystems, including the population dynamics of imperiled fishes, habitat associations of stream fishes, ecosystem services provided by watersheds, the use of biotic communities to assess water quality, and ecology of species invasions.
Primary editor David Jachowski, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, was a post-doctoral fellow at Virginia Tech in 2014. The co-editors include Joshua Millspaugh, the William J. Rucker Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Missouri, and Rob Slotow, professor and head of the College of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
Story by Lynn Davis, CNRE