Endangered Species Recovery Program

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The San Joaquin kit fox as an umbrella species
for conservation efforts in central California

Presented To:

1997 Annual Meeting
Society for Conservation Biology
Victoria, BC
9 June 1997


Patrick A. Kelly,
Daniel F. Williams
San Joaquin Valley Endangered Species Recovery Program


Brian L. Cypher
NPRC Endangered Species Program
Tupman, CA 93276, USA


The San Joaquin Valley (SJV) of California is a region of immense biological diversity, and includes a number of endemic species and unique biotic communities. Due to profound habitat loss and degradation, numerous plant and animal species in the SJV are considered sensitive, and many are receiving formal Federal and State protection. Separate conservation strategies for each of these species would be inefficient and socioeconomically impractical. Thus, use of the endangered San Joaquin kit fox as an "umbrella" species in conservation and recovery efforts has been proposed. Because kit foxes will require relatively large tracts of land to support viable populations, the assumption is that conservation efforts, particularly habitat conservation, on behalf of the kit fox will benefit other species such that (1) recovery of listed species will be collaterally achieved or significantly facilitated, (2) the need to list additional species will be precluded, and (3) significant portions of several unique biotic communities will be conserved. We evaluate the potential efficacy of this strategy by assessing spatial sympatry and overlap in ecological requirements between kit foxes and other sensitive species. Historical and current distributions of kit foxes and other species will be examined and ecological requirements, particularly preferred habitat elements, will be compared. The extent of sympatry and ecological overlap will be critical to the successful use of kit foxes as an umbrella species in conservation and recovery efforts.

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