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The One Plan approach: The philosophy and implementation of CBSG's approach to integrated species conservation planning

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Vol 14 2013
Towards Integrated
Species Conservation
The endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) has been restored in South Africa using an integrated species
conservation approach, including active metapopulation management. | © Rob Till
The One Plan Approach:
The Philosophy and Implementation
of CBSG’s Approach to Integrated
Species Conservation Planning
»
Onnie Byers1,*, Caroline Lees2, Jonathan Wilcken3 & Christoph Schwitzer4
One Plan Approach
1 IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding
Specialist Group, Apple Valley, MN, USA
2 IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding
Specialist Group Australasia,
c/o Auckland Zoo, Auckland,
New Zealand
3 Auckland Zoo, Auckland, New Zealand
4 Bristol Zoo Gardens, Bristol, UK
* E-mail for correspondence:
onnie@cbsg.org
Summary
An increasing number of threatened
species are dependent on continuing
management for their survival. For
these species, it makes little sense to
conduct separate and independent

on whether these interventions take
place in the wild, in increasingly
managed parks and reserves or in
zoos. The One Plan approach pro-
posed by the IUCN SSC Conservation
Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG)
promotes integrated species con-
servation planning, which considers
all populations of the species, inside
The Need
As habitats are increasingly altered
and wild animal and plant popula-
tions impacted by human activities,
a growing number of the world’s
species are dependent on continuing
management for their survival and
ultimate conservation. Scott et al.
(2010) stated that 84% of the species
listed under the US Endangered

“conservation reliant” and will require
-
ventions. Widespread threats such
as habitat loss, poaching, invasive
species and disease often lead to
smaller, isolated populations that
require conservation action, not only
to avoid extinction but to achieve

(2005): “securing, for the long term,
populations of species in natural
ecosystems and habitats”, and more
et al. (2011):
“maintaining multiple populations
across the range of the species in
representative ecological settings,
with replicate populations in each
setting. These populations should be
self-sustaining, healthy, and geneti-
cally robust – and therefore resilient
to climate and other environmental
changes”.
These threats are not only impact-
ing currently endangered species. In

of climate change on biodiversity
loss, Warren et al. (2013) found that
without mitigation, large range
contractions can be expected even
among common and widespread
species, amounting to a substantial
global reduction in biodiversity and
ecosystem services by the end of

planning, and the optimal use of lim-
ited resources, across the spectrum
of management is essential if we
hope to contribute to achieving the
global biodiversity targets agreed
upon by the Conference of the Par-
ties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010,
commonly referred to as the Aichi
Biodiversity Targets.
Two Plans Are Not
Better Than One
An obstacle to this, however, is that
species conservation planning has
traditionally followed two parallel
but separate tracks. Field biolo-
gists, wildlife managers and con-
servationists monitor wild popula-
tions, evaluate threats and develop
conservation strategies and actions
to conserve threatened species in
the wild. Meanwhile, the zoo and
aquarium community develops long-
term goals for ex situ populations,
sometimes without full access to
information about the threats faced
by the species’ wild counterparts
and the opportunities for supporting
those populations. While each man-
agement plan strives for viability of
a particular population, too seldom
are these plans developed together
to maximise the conservation ben-

and outside their natural range,
under all conditions of management,
engaging all responsible parties and
all available resources from the very
start of any species conservation
planning initiative. The One Plan
approach aims to: establish new
partnerships; ensure that intensively
managed populations are as useful
as possible to species conservation;
increase the level of trust and un-
derstanding among conservationists
across all conditions of management
of a species; accelerate the evolu-
tion of species planning tools; and
ultimately lead species conservation
towards the aspirations embodied in
the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
The international zoo community
has made tremendous progress
recently on the design and develop-
ment of Global Species Management
Plans (GSMPs). However, this label is
a misnomer, as the population being
planned for is the global captive pop-
ulation, not the global population
as a whole. These programmes are
designed to general principles usu-
ally aimed at retaining conservation
value through close management
of demographic health and gene
diversity. However, their planning
lacks the comprehensive input from
in situ conservation managers that
would enable customisation towards

the species as a whole. Without this
input, GSMPs, or indeed any captive
breeding programmes, will not nec-
essarily be large enough, genetically
diverse enough, productive enough,
in the right kinds of facilities or in
the right place at the right time to
provide the support that they could
to wild populations.
On the other hand, too many con-
servation planning and Red List-
ing workshops take place without

the international zoo community.
Species conservationists working to
conserve unmanaged wild popula-
tions often do not see the poten-
tial contribution from intensively
managed populations; intensively
managed populations are rarely
considered as part of wider meta-
populations from the start, if at all.
Redford et al. (2011) stated that “we
must view captive management as

to move species up the continuum”
towards a fully conserved state.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened
Species recognises the impact of
captive stocks on a species’ con-
servation status in its distinction
between Extinct and Extinct in the
Wild. However, it makes no attempt
to quantify this contribution, either
at any point prior to the complete
loss of the species in the wild or at
any point after, despite the fact that,
as a species approaches extinction
in the wild, the chances of establish-
ing a healthy captive programme
or of reshaping an existing one
into an appropriate programme of
management become increasingly
small. When existence in the wild
is threatened, then populations of
that species, wherever they are, are
potentially of conservation value.
A status assessment that includes
and evaluates all populations of
a species, inside and outside their
natural range, would thus be a useful
aid to planning and prioritisation.
We are all trying desperately to

conservation is, for the most part,

the captive community from other
conservation entities is its ability
to buy time. It can do this by secur-
ing populations from threatening
processes in the wild, while concur-
rent conservation activities battle
these threats in situ
of cases there is no consensus on
how to remove these threats, and
in many instances (e.g. for species
threatened by amphibian chytrid
fungus) we do not have the techni-
cal ability to do so. For a number of
species, captive populations could
well provide a critical and ongoing
conservation resource for the fore-
seeable future.
2 3
WAZA magazine Vol 14/2013 WAZA magazine Vol 14/2013
»
© Kathy Traylor-Holzer

Fig. 1
Fig. 2 Captive Okinawa rail with radio-transmitter.
Wild Okinawa rail.
One Plan Approach One Plan Approach
Where there are populations in
captivity, we must consider those
populations when developing a con-
servation plan. CBSG is placed at the
interface between the zoo commu-
nity and the global species conserva-
tion community, has over 30 years
of experience with species conser-
vation planning, and can therefore
potentially bridge this gap and facili-
tate an improved contribution of the
zoo community to successful species
conservation globally. (Fig. 1)
The One Plan

Population management across
a continuum that bridges wild and
intensively managed conditions
can serve as an important tool to
progress species “up the ladder”, to-
wards fully conserved status. CBSG,
through its One Plan approach,
supports integrated species conser-

development of management strate-
gies and conservation actions by all
responsible parties to produce one
comprehensive conservation plan
for the species. Integrated species
planning is not a new concept: such

to several well-known conservation
successes, from golden lion tamarins
in Brazil to Puerto Rican crested
toads in the Caribbean to Arabian
oryx in the Middle East. Previous
CBSG workshops for species such
as the Okinawa rail (Figs 1 and 2),
red-headed wood pigeon and black-
footed ferret developed integrated
species conservation plans across
an interactive wild–ex situ spectrum.
Other examples include African
penguins (Schwitzer et al., this
issue) and Tasmanian devils (Lees
et al., this issue). Our vision is to
make comprehensive conservation
planning more commonplace and


of Implementation
Assessment of threats to wild popu-
lations and evaluation of potential
strategies to address those threats
should consider the wide array of op-

management, and if and how these
tools might promote conservation
of the species in the wild. Options
include: source populations for de-
mographic or genetic supplementa-
tion; assurance populations against
imminent threats such as disease
or invasive species; research popu-
lations to develop monitoring or
management techniques; and head-
start programmes that temporarily

and promote population growth. In
turn, wild populations will boost the
long-term viability of ex situ popula-
tions by supplying genetic founders
that can or must be removed from


cannot be released or non-viable
population fragments.
The CBSG workshop process is ide-
ally suited to implementation of the
One Plan approach. As Redford et
al. (2011) note, “developing such
a positive vision with a broad range
of stakeholders produces a positive
atmosphere, facilitates coopera-
tion, and allows for development of
essential partnerships and political
support”. In addition, the newly
revised IUCN SSC Guidelines on
the Use of Ex Situ Management for
Species Conservation (IUCN SSC, in

an approach, and the SSC/Global
Species Programme strategic plan,
which guides the work of CBSG and
all other SSC Specialist Groups, in-
cludes among species conservation
planning targets the application of
the One Plan approach over the next
quadrennium.
The zoo and aquarium community is
actively building links with the SSC
-
tion agencies. Its members are com-
mitted to making available to their
conservation colleagues the captive
community’s specialised skills and
valuable resources to assist in con-
servation. The One Plan approach is

of this conservation opportunity
can be fully realised. Our goal is to
promote and routinely apply the
One Plan approach in the coming
years. The result should be integrat-
ed conservation plans that mobilise
the full suite of skills and resources
available to species in trouble, giving
them a better chance at a future in
the wild.
References
IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) (in prep.) IUCN SSC
Guidelines on the Use of Ex Situ Management for Species Conservation.
Gland: IUCN Species Survival Commission.
Redford, K. H., Amato, G., Baillie, J., Beldomenico, P., Bennett, E. L.,
Clum, N., Cook, R., Fonseca, G., Hedges, S., Launay, F., Lieberman, S.,
Mace, G. M., Murayama, A., Putnam, A., Robinson, J. G., Rosenbaum, H.,
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What does it mean to successfully conserve a (vertebrate) species?
BioScience 61: 39–48.
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Conservation-reliant species and the future of conservation.
Conservation Letters 3: 91–97.
Warren, R., VanDerWal, J., Price, J., Welbergen, J. A., Atkinson, I.,
Ramirez-Villegas, J., Osborn, T. J., Jarvis, A., Shoo, L. P., Williams, S. E.

mitigation in avoiding biodiversity loss. Nature Climate Change 3: in press.
WAZA (2005) Building a Future for Wildlife: The World Zoo and Aquarium
Conservation Strategy. Berne: WAZA.
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ISSN: 2074-4528
WAZA magazine Vol 14/2013
... This lack of progress calls for new approaches. In 2020, the IUCN World Conservation Congress passed a resolution promoting the integration of in situ (within a species' natural habitat) and ex situ (in human care outside a species' natural habitat) conservation interventions by applying the One Plan Approach (OPA; WCC-2020-Res-079n; Byers et al. 2013). Traditionally, species conservation planning has followed parallel but separate tracks: field biologists and wildlife managers' efforts to address conservation needs in situ, zoo, aquarium, and species-specific breeding centres (e.g. the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Blackfooted Ferret Conservation Center), efforts to develop sustainable ex situ populations. ...
... Traditionally, species conservation planning has followed parallel but separate tracks: field biologists and wildlife managers' efforts to address conservation needs in situ, zoo, aquarium, and species-specific breeding centres (e.g. the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Blackfooted Ferret Conservation Center), efforts to develop sustainable ex situ populations. Under the OPA developed by the IUCN's Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG), species conservation planning is conducted in an integrated manner by all responsible parties, whether inside or outside the natural habitat (Byers et al. 2013). ...
... We argue that some of these challenges can be addressed-through the incorporation of quantitative genetic management techniques-to improve ex situ population management, similar to that used to disentangle causes of phenotypic change in wild populations (Pelletier et al. 2009;Chargé et al. 2014). Monitoring phenotypic and genetic characteristics of ex situ populations would help to ensure their suitability for conservation efforts, in particular under the OPA, in which captive and wild populations are managed as a type of metapopulation (Byers et al. 2013). ...
Article
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Human activities are resulting in altered environmental conditions that are impacting the demography and evolution of species globally. If we wish to prevent anthropogenic extinction and extirpation, we need to improve our ability to restore wild populations. Ex situ populations can be an important tool for species conservation. However, it is difficult to prevent deviations from an optimal breeding design and altered environments in captivity seem likely to lead to evolutionary or plasticity-induced phenotypic change that could make reintroduction more difficult. Quantitative genetic analysis can help disentangle the causes of phenotypic change in ex situ populations. Consequently, quantitative genetics can improve the management of these populations and the success of in situ population management actions that they support. In this review we outline methods that could be used to improve the management of in situ and ex situ populations in a One Plan Approach. We discuss how quantitative genetic models can help measure genetic variation, phenotypic plasticity, and social effects on phenotypes. Finally, we discuss how phenotypic change can be predicted using measurements of additive genetic variance and selection. While previous work has highlighted the value of ex situ populations for the field of quantitative genetics, we argue that quantitative genetics can, in turn, offer opportunities to improve management and consequently conservation of populations of species at risk. We show that quantitative genetic analyses are a tool that could be incorporated into and improve ex situ management practices.
... This lack of progress calls for new approaches. In 2020, the IUCN World Conservation Congress passed a resolution promoting the integration of in situ (within a species' natural habitat) and ex situ (in human care outside a species' natural habitat) conservation interventions by applying the One Plan Approach (OPA; WCC-2020-Res-079n; Byers et al. 2013). Traditionally, species conservation planning has followed parallel but separate tracks: field biologists and wildlife managers' efforts to address conservation needs in situ, zoo, aquarium, and species-specific breeding centres (e.g. the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Blackfooted Ferret Conservation Center), efforts to develop sustainable ex situ populations. ...
... Traditionally, species conservation planning has followed parallel but separate tracks: field biologists and wildlife managers' efforts to address conservation needs in situ, zoo, aquarium, and species-specific breeding centres (e.g. the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Blackfooted Ferret Conservation Center), efforts to develop sustainable ex situ populations. Under the OPA developed by the IUCN's Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG), species conservation planning is conducted in an integrated manner by all responsible parties, whether inside or outside the natural habitat (Byers et al. 2013). ...
... We argue that some of these challenges can be addressed-through the incorporation of quantitative genetic management techniques-to improve ex situ population management, similar to that used to disentangle causes of phenotypic change in wild populations (Pelletier et al. 2009;Chargé et al. 2014). Monitoring phenotypic and genetic characteristics of ex situ populations would help to ensure their suitability for conservation efforts, in particular under the OPA, in which captive and wild populations are managed as a type of metapopulation (Byers et al. 2013). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Human activities are resulting in altered environmental conditions that are impacting the demography and evolution of species globally. If we wish to prevent anthropogenic extinction and extirpation, we need to improve our ability to restore wild populations. Ex situ populations can be an important tool for species conservation. Quantitative genetic analysis can improve management of these populations and thus the success of in situ population management actions that they support. In this review we outline methods that could be used to improve the management of in situ and ex situ populations in a One Plan Approach. We discuss how quantitative genetic models can help measure genetic variation, phenotypic plasticity, and social effects on phenotypes. Finally, we discuss how phenotypic change can be predicted using measurements of additive genetic variance and selection. While previous work has highlighted the value of ex situ populations for the field of quantitative genetics, we argue that quantitative genetics can, in turn, offer opportunities to improve management and consequently conservation of populations of species at risk. We show that quantitative genetic analyses are a tool that could be incorporated into and improve ex situ management practices.
... Much of this book deals with the important task of accommodating behavioural welfare in captive populations, and in this chapter we have discussed why this needs to be accomplished with evolutionary biology insight. A recent innovation in captive population management is the One Plan Approach to conservation (Byers, Lees, Wilcken, & Schwitzer, 2013). This method integrates evidencebased management of captive population genomic diversity with the broad range of multidisciplinary considerations necessary for successful species conservation, including behavioural welfare, collection planning, and in situ conservation action (see Chapter 2). ...
... Beyond Madagascar, captive breeding with conservation purposes has also been set up in various countries all over the world. Under the "One Plan" approach, populations of a lemur species within and outside of Madagascar, in the wild and in captivity, should all be managed as a metapopulation, increasing the chances of success in an unpredictable future (Byers et al., 2013;Schwitzer et al., 2013b). In addition to ex-situ captive-breeding programmes, lemurs are also currently kept in zoos worldwide due to their attractiveness and ability to attract visitors (Carr, 2016). ...
... Article 9 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) emphasizes the complementarity of ex situ and in situ conservation of species through facilitating exchange of plant genetic resources between farmers and genebanks (Thormann et al. 2006). So, a multi-disciplinary conservation strategy that integrates insitu and exsitu management processes is necessary wherever appropriate (Conway 2007; Byers et al., 2013;Schwartz et al., 2017), which necessitates an adaptive management processes and a strong collaboration at all levels of conservation action including planning, implementation, monitoring and assessment (Schwartz et al., 2017).This will also require engagement of multiple actors with different complementary skills. Community seed banks and community field genebank have been developed to bridge gap between genebank and farmers. ...
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... Zoos have begun to embrace the One Health concept, best described as the growing understanding that wildlife health is directly related to human public health (Braverman 2021;Sulzner et al. 2021). The One Health concept is closely related to landscape connectivity and landscape epidemiology in particular (Meentemeyer et al. 2012). ...
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... Additionally, the recent revelation that the majority of ex situ population management programmes are not meeting sustainability criteria, and are thus not viable long-term, has caused serious concern among population managers and conservation practitioners (Lees and Wilcken 2009;Powell et al. 2019). Despite these limitations, it is widely agreed that ex situ breeding and management can be used as an effective conservation tool to conserve species, particularly when integrated with in situ conservation efforts (Bowkett 2009;Byers et al. 2013;IUCN SSC 2014). Zoos and aquariums have the capacity to directly contribute to in situ conservation efforts through the generation of financial contributions, provision of animals for reintroduction purposes, veterinary expertise and conservation education (Brichieri-Colombi et al. 2019;Coonan et al. 2010;Gusset and Dick 2010;Smith et al. 2007). ...
Thesis
Despite the best efforts of conservation practitioners global biodiversity is continuing to decline. The role of zoos and aquariums in conserving global biodiversity ex situ has become increasingly important as more species become threatened with extinction. As ex situconservation resources are limited, evidence-based decision making is required to identify, and prioritise, the management actions necessary to increase the potential of ex situ conservation efforts. The efficacy of ex situ conservation efforts is currently hindered by 1) entrenched taxonomic biases in collection planning and the prioritisation of large, charismatic vertebrates, 2) the unsustainability of ex situ populations due to limited space availability and management practices, and 3) limited considerations of the potential for ex situ collections to conserve and reintroduce genetic variation into populations using biological samples and advanced reproductive technologies. In this thesis I explore the multifaceted contribution of ex situ collections to global biodiversity conservation. I focus on the importance of standardised, globally shared ex situ records, and their potential to inform collection planning, population sustainability and genetic conservation decision-making.
... Beyond Madagascar, captive breeding with conservation purposes has also been set up in various countries all over the world. Under the "One Plan" approach, populations of a lemur species within and outside of Madagascar, in the wild and in captivity, should all be managed as a metapopulation, increasing the chances of success in an unpredictable future (Byers et al., 2013;Schwitzer et al., 2013b). In addition to ex-situ captive-breeding programmes, lemurs are also currently kept in zoos worldwide due to their attractiveness and ability to attract visitors (Carr, 2016). ...
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In July 2020, the Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) was enlisted by the international non-profit sea turtle conservation organization, Upwell, to design and facilitate a two-step decision making process to inform conservation efforts for the Critically Endangered Eastern Pacific subpopulation of the leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea (shortened to EPLB within the report). The focus of the process was to determine the extent to which ex situ management activities (specifically head-starting and egg translocation) should be considered as complements to in situ efforts for the species. The process involved the participatory development of a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) model for the subpopulation, reflecting both its status and trajectory and potential future trajectories based on different conservation management interventions (both in situ and ex situ). This first phase was then followed by a second participatory planning phase, in which a wider group of stakeholders from both within and beyond the region were led through a series of meetings to develop a shared recommendation for future work. This recommendation was restricted to determining the extent to which head-starting and/or egg translocation could be used as complementary actions to augment ongoing efforts to prevent extinction of the sub-population. The two-step process began in November 2020 and ended in February 2021. The final recommendation developed was that, given current uncertainties concerning the practicability and likely impact of ex situ management activities on EPLB recovery, such actions should not be embarked upon at the current time, though they merited further examination and study. A range of research themes were identified by the group that should be further investigated to help reduce uncertainties surrounding the ex situ management approaches proposed. This would ensure that, should ongoing in situ interventions be unsuccessful in slowing population decline, or an urgent need for ex situ actions be identified, ex situ conservation practitioners will be better equipped with the knowledge and capabilities to maximize the probability of success of additional ex situ measures.
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Climate change is expected to have significant influences on terrestrial biodiversity at all system levels, including species-level reductions in range size and abundance, especially amongst endemic species1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. However, little is known about how mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions could reduce biodiversity impacts, particularly amongst common and widespread species. Our global analysis of future climatic range change of common and widespread species shows that without mitigation, 57±6% of plants and 34±7% of animals are likely to lose ≥50% of their present climatic range by the 2080s. With mitigation, however, losses are reduced by 60% if emissions peak in 2016 or 40% if emissions peak in 2030. Thus, our analyses indicate that without mitigation, large range contractions can be expected even amongst common and widespread species, amounting to a substantial global reduction in biodiversity and ecosystem services by the end of this century. Prompt and stringent mitigation, on the other hand, could substantially reduce range losses and buy up to four decades for climate change adaptation.
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