Pacific Walrus Endangered Species Act Listing Support – Helping Experts to be Explicit About Uncertainty
Environmental changes due to climate warming and declines in the availability of sea ice habitats present a difficult challenge for the conservation of Pacific walruses. These changes increase stressors on the Pacific walrus population and threaten the long-term viability of the species. In response, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) carried out a Species Status Assessment to inform a decision on whether to propose Pacific walrus for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Given the high degree of uncertainty regarding how a changing climate will affect ice habitat, increase stressors, and impact the Pacific walrus population, multiple methods must be employed to bring the best available information forward to inform an assessment of the species. These include collecting scientific evidence, modeling, and elicitation of expert knowledge from marine mammal scientists and Alaska Native walrus hunters and community members.
Compass provided USFWS with decision support services for the management of the Pacific walrus, including design and facilitation of a Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) workshop with coastal Alaska Native subsistence resource users, development of a Bayesian Belief Network, design and implementation of a structured expert elicitation process, and facilitation of Science Team and Decision Team workshops.
- ClientU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service