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Can Incentives Help Overcome Landowner Concerns About Endangered Species Critical Habitat? A Rancher Case Study from the Southwestern United States


June 2013 - August 2016


We were interested in if payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs can encourage ranchers to conserve threatened and endangered (T&E) species on private land. Harboring threatened or endangered species on private land can introduce regulatory burden according to landowners because of implications from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Because of landowners’ apprehension, PES programs likely have to be uniquely designed to address these concerns about additional regulation or possible loss of autonomy to make decisions for their operation. We used three methods to assess the interest of ranchers in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico in participating in PES programs for T&E species’ conservation, and to determine what specific considerations need to be included in the design of such a program. Participants were generally interested in hypothetical programs for T&E species’ conservation. Results demonstrated that the funding source for the program is important, programs must result in a net benefit to landowners, and regulatory assurances must be provided to landowners and their neighbors. These results are useful during preliminary stages of designing a PES program in the region of study, recognizing that further investigation into landowner preferences will be needed. Our approach is also a model for how other regions can evaluate stakeholder preferences before the initiating PES program design. This work was presented in a thesis and is being submitted for publication.

Research Products and Activities


  • Svancara, C. M. 2015. Human dimensions of endangered species conservation: Southwestern ranchers’ concerns about jaguar (Panthera onca) critical habitat designation and interest in conservation incentives. MS. Thesis, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.


  • Svancara, C., L. Lopez-Hoffman, and S. Bonar. 2014. Perceptions and concerns with jaguar conservation: nine rancher case studies in southern Arizona. 47th Joint Annual Meeting of the AZ and NM Chapters of the American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society, Pinetop Arizona, February 6-8, 2014
  • Svancara, C., A. Lien, W. Vanasco, L. Lopez-Hoffman, S. Bonar, and G. Ruyle. Identifying ranching leaders’ opinions of jaguar conservation and concerns with endangered species management through focused interviews. 47th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of the Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society, Las Cruces, New Mexico, February 5-7, 2015. Contributed Oral Presentation.

  • Svancara, C., A. M. Lien, W. T. Vanasco, S. A. Bonar, G. B. Ruyle, and L. López-Hoffman. 2016. Can incentives help overcome landowner concerns about conserving endangered species on their land? A rancher case study about jaguar critical habitat and rangeland conservation.; 49th Joint Annual Meeting Arizona and New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society and Arizona/New Mexico Chapter of The American Fisheries Society, February 4-6, 2016, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 95

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 143

Post Docs: 53

University Staff: 239

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 701

Scientific Publications: 1949

Presentations: 4261



  • Scott BonarCo-Principal Investigator
  • Colleen SvancaraStudent

Funding Agencies

  • USGS


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey