Save the Turtles! And the Grizzlies? Or the Woodpeckers? Prioritizing Endangered Species Conservation

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This case study explores the complexities involved in endangered species management and provides an opportunity for students to perform an exercise in socio-environmental synthesis. Developed for introductory undergraduate courses in environmental studies or conservation biology, it contains suggested modifications for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses. Students take the position of wildlife managers who must decide how best to allocate limited resources for conserving multiple threatened and endangered species. Students are provided with data on the ecological characteristics and socio-economic circumstances for a set of five species, and then work in small groups to develop conservation priority rankings based on those data. Students summarize their decisions in writing and in small-group presentations, and the case concludes with an instructor-led discussion of how actual conservation priorities are determined.


This is a teaching resource developed to teach about socio-environmental synthesis. Specifically, it is a case study teaching activity focused on endangered species conservation.