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New Jersey Wildlife Action Plan Comment Form
Assessing the Threats to New Jersey's Focal Species

Objective
The State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) development process requires that each state address "8 essential elements" to complete their SWAPs. One of the more significant required elements is identifying "threats" to the state's Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN).

The Case for a "Common Lexicon"
Not unlike the ranges of wildlife species themselves, the threats affecting SGCN commonly go well beyond the borders of any individual state and are often deserving of regional conservation action. But disparities in the methods used by individual states to identify and characterize threats to their SGCN have impeded regional compilation and collaboration among SWAPs. An important step to improving coordination of conservation programs is to establish a common language, or lexicon, for describing the threats to SGCN and developing actions to address them. The concept and framework for such a lexicon is detailed by Salafsky et al (2007).

With this understanding, states in the Northeast involved in the 2015 SWAP revision process collectively decided to use a common classification system known as the "Northeast Lexicon." This lexicon uses the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) threats classification scheme, which consists of 11 broad primary categories of threats. Each of those is further subdivided into secondary and tertiary sub-categories of increasing detail.

Though the IUCN lexicon was found to be quite comprehensive, threats can also be recognized as "factors that drive the need for taking conservation action." States and conservation organizations have therefore looked to the "action drivers" identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Tracking and Reporting on Actions for Conservation of Species (TRACS) reporting system as a meaningful way to expanded upon the threat categories provided by the IUCN.

The 2015 SWAP Threat Assessment Process
In the development of New Jersey's Wildlife Action Plan, Fish and Wildlife found 10 of the 11 primary IUCN threat categories to be relevant to New Jersey (a category addressing "Geological Events" consisting of earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches and landslides was omitted). The Division also chose to address two TRACS action drivers: "Resource Management Needs" and "Education and Outreach Needs." In combination, the 10 applicable IUCN threat categories and these two TRACS action drivers result in a total of 12 "threat categories" upon which to base New Jersey's SWAP.

Having identified the appropriate lexicon for assessing threats, Fish and Wildlife reviewed the threats identified in the original New Jersey SWAP, as well as additional threats identified in the years since. These threats were categorized into the IUCN and TRACS formats in order to review, edit, and minimize redundancy. The resulting hierarchy of 2015 SWAP threats and action drivers used by the Division in its assessment can be viewed in detail:
Threats and Action Driver Categories (pdf, 375kb)

Division taxa team experts then assessed how each of the 2015 SWAP threats affect New Jersey's 107 Focal Species. In making these assessments, the taxa teams used a qualitative "expert-opinion"-based approach loosely modeled on the Northeast Lexicon report cited above, which considered the severity, reversibility, immediacy, spatial extent, certainty, and likelihood of individual threats as they pertain to each of the Focal Species.
Threat Characteristics and Categorical Ratings (pdf, 80kb)

A holistic "low," "moderate," "high," or "not applicable" impact rating was thus assigned to each threat for each of the 107 Focal Species. The results of this assessment help to identify the threats most deserving of immediate or near-term conservation action and will help refine the focus of the 2015 SWAP.

The results of the 2015 SWAP threats assessment can be viewed by taxonomic group:

Please use the form below to submit comment on Assessing the Threats to New Jersey's Focal Species only; there are separate comment forms for each aspect of the Plan. Make sure to complete fields that are designated as "* = required".

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Osprey nestling with building beyond
Urban space now makes up more than 30% of New Jersey's land area, and wildlife struggle to make a living in smaller, more altered habitats.
Photo courtesy Ben Wurst, CWFNJ

Bats with WNS
More than 6 million North American bats have perished from White-nose Syndrome over the past decade. The fungal disease affects little brown bats (pictured) and other cave-hibernating species during the winter.
Photo courtesy John Gumbs, BATS Research Center

Terrapin on road's edge
NJ's dense road network is perilous to wild animals like the diamondback terrapin. Here, a female terrapin waits for a chance to cross the road to reach her nesting grounds.
Photo courtesy Ben Wurst, CWFNJ


Thank you for reviewing the NJ Wildlife Action Plan and submitting your comments.

Back to Wildlife Action Plan (WAP).

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Last Updated: September 25, 2015