Emergence at dusk of Mexican free-tailed bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. (credit: Peter Potrowl

By Wayne E. Thogmartin, Michelle A. Haefele, Jay E. Diffendorfer, Darius J. Semmens, Jonathan J. Derbridge, Aaron Lien, Ta-Ken Huang and Laura López-Hoffman

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The needs of species change over time and, for migratory species, those needs are met in different locations, in some cases different countries. As a result, support for migratory species conservation may be greater in some jurisdictions compared to others, locations which do not necessarily coincide with where the species requires it the most. To address these discrepancies between species need and species support, it may be useful to divert resources from one jurisdiction to another. It is not well understood, however, whether people in one country will support conservation in another if that should be necessary to achieve conservation success.

We addressed this gap in understanding by examining the attitudes and interests of North Americans to conserve two migratory species, a well-known duck and a lesser-known bat, to determine whether support for conservation existed across their full range. We found, as expected, residents of Canada, the United States, and México supported conservation in their own country more than in other countries, but, importantly, residents of all three countries expressed willingness to support conservation even in nations that were not their own. This willingness to share the burden of conservation of migratory species wherever that burden may be needed provides the basis for multi-national cooperation. This cooperation could support, for instance, allocation of resources of one country for more effective use in another. Such transboundary provisioning of conservation resources exists for ducks and other migratory birds but is rare for bats and other migratory species.

The willingness of North Americans to support conservation in areas where they do not reside, even across international boundaries, should be encouraging to people, organizations, and governments as they engage in the essential planning and administration of the broad-scale coordination required for sustaining vibrant populations of migratory species.