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The future of conservation and human–wildlife relationships in the American West is at a defining moment. The region consists of a mosaic of land-cover types, with large amounts of public land under varying degrees of protection, use, and ownership. This public land provides the foundation for high levels of connectivity and habitat for healthy populations of wildlife, including those with large resource requirements such as large and wide-ranging mammals (Barnes et al 2016). However, space for wildlife is under threat in the West. Energy development projects, urban and ex-urban sprawl, increasing road traffic and density, and amenity-driven human migration are dramatically changing the ecological landscape (Leu et al 2008). The social landscape is rapidly changing as well, with new residents bringing different worldviews, economic activities, and expectations regarding wildlife and their habitats (Teel and Manfredo 2010). Because maintaining and establishing landscape connectivity for wildlife in part depends on facilitating their movement across privately-owned lands that connect protected areas, balancing disparate human priorities with wildlife conservation across large landscapes in the American West requires novel approaches to conservation practice.

Inclusion of multi-level drivers of social processes and human behavior in spatial analysis and conservation planning represents a tremendous opportunity to improve outcomes for both wildlife and humans in shared landscapes (Lischka et al 2018). A growing body of work has demonstrated novel ways to spatially integrate social and ecological factors that can better inform decision making for human–wildlife coexistence under changing conditions (Bryan et al 2011, Behr et al 2017, Williamson et al 2018). Here, we build on that foundation to underscore the utility of integrating social factors into traditional spatial analysis to promote human–wildlife coexistence in the American West.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.