Agency plans are inadequate to conserve US endangered species under climate change

Agency plans are inadequate to conserve US endangered species under climate change

Abstract

Despite widespread evidence of climate change as a threat to biodiversity, it is unclear whether government policies and agencies are adequately addressing this threat to species (1-4). We evaluate species sensitivity, a component of climate change vulnerability, and whether climate change is discussed as a threat in planning for climate-related management action in official documents from 1973-2018 for all 459 US animals listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that 99.8% of species are sensitive to one or more of eight sensitivity factors, but agencies consider climate change as a threat to only 64% of species and plan management actions for only 18% of species. Agencies are more likely to plan actions for species sensitive to more factors, but such planning has declined since 2016. Results highlight the gap between climate change sensitivity and the attention from agencies charged with conserving endangered species.

Publication
Nature Climate Change

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