|Reintroductions, particularly of large mammals, are increasingly being considered to reverse global biodiversity loss. However, reintroductions are difficult due to the many human-mediated landscape changes that occur between a species' extinction and its proposed return. Therefore, identifying potential reintroduction sites within increasingly novel landscapes depends on identifying the coupled social and biophysical variables that drive landscape change over time, and acknowledging the place-based historical contexts of that change. Certain combinations of social and biophysical variables resulted in extinctions in the past, but others may now favor reintroductions. We term the suite of coupled social and biophysical changes that must occur to enable a successful reintroduction to a landscape of interest the reintroduction gap.
We illustrate the reintroduction gap with a case study: the iconic California grizzly bear, extinct for almost a century, has long captured the imagination of Californians. What would a suitable reintroduction landscape look like for the California grizzly? We integrate diverse data and research methods from history, ecology, and the social sciences to bridge the reintroduction gap and envision potential futures for the California grizzly. Our work more broadly demonstrates that heavily interdisciplinary approaches will be increasingly necessary to meet the complex challenges of modern reintroductions.|
Co-authors: Peter Alagona, Ian McCullough, Bruce Kendall, Sarah Anderson, Scott Cooper, Andrea Adams, Kevin C. Brown, Molly Hardesty-Moore, Elizabeth Hiroyasu, Robert Heilmayr, Alexis Mychajliw, Jennifer Martin, Chris Miljanich, Zoe Welch, Jolie Colby, Sean Denny, Brian Tyrrell