Assisted colonization: Home on the range, or not?

Our rapidly changing climate is shrinking ecological ranges of many species to the point where extinction is a real likelihood within the next couple of decades.  One option is to move these species to new habitats where the future might be rosier.  A number of us discussed this during a workshop in 2008 and produced an article in Science’s Policy Forum section.  The issue is again in the news.  Richard Stone from Science magazine has written a thoughtful piece which exposes the latest thinking.

Science Magazine, Richard Stone

One of the hottest debates in conservation biology these days is to what extent scientists should help embattled species cope with climate change. All life forms, including our own, must adapt to climate change or dwindle and possibly perish. Scientists generally agree that first they should protect or shore up ecosystems, especially fragile ones such as cloud forests and coral reefs. Consensus breaks down, however, on what to do when a species can’t keep pace with a changing world. One camp insists that desperate times call for desperate measures. Habitat fragmentation caused by human activity has made it difficult or impossible for many species to migrate on their own to more suitable environments. Thus, a growing number of researchers argue that assisted colonization, also called managed relocation, is a vital conservation tool. Other scientists worry that momentum for translocations is building too fast.  For the full article, read it in Science magazine.

2 thoughts on “Assisted colonization: Home on the range, or not?

    • I saw the program last night and thought that it was excellent in terms of getting the key messages across. Sir David Attenborough is one of my heroes – so succinct and compelling – he raised impact of the programme by several notches. Hopefully, this program will help people understand how serious the current human assault on the oceans is.

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