Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Should We Move Species To Save Them From Climate Change?

Date:
July 18, 2008
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
Many species must move to new areas to survive climate change. Often, this seems impossible. Species stranded on mountain tops in southern Europe that are becoming too hot for them, for instance, are unlikely to be able to reach northern Europe unaided. So should humans step in to help? The journal Science reports that conservation scientists are calling for new conservation tactics, such as assisted migration, in the face of the growing threat of climate change.

Bear in Pyrenees, France. Species stranded on mountain tops in southern Europe that are becoming too hot for them, are unlikely to be able to reach northern Europe unaided. So should humans step in to help?
Credit: iStockphoto/Jez Gunnell

Many species must move to new areas to survive climate change. Often, this seems impossible. Species stranded on mountain tops in southern Europe that are becoming too hot for them, for instance, are unlikely to be able to reach northern Europe unaided. So should humans step in to help?

An international team of conservation scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, including University of Texas at Austin Professor Camille Parmesan, call for new conservation tactics, such as assisted migration, in the face of the growing threat of climate change.

The authors argue that both the rapid rate of climate change and the presence of human-made barriers to natural movement will prevent many species from shifting where they live in response to changes in local climate.

They suggest that human-assisted translocation of individuals, often termed "assisted migration" or "assisted colonization," may be necessary to ensure colonization of new geographic regions as parts or all of the historical species' range becomes unsuitable.

"When I first brought up this idea some 10 years ago in conservation meetings, most people were horrified," Parmesan said. "But now, as the reality of global warming sinks in, and species are already becoming endangered and even going extinct because of climate change, I'm seeing a new willingness in the conservation community to at least talk about the possibility of helping out species by moving them around."

Parmesan and her colleagues point out that assisted migration can never be a major solution for wildlife, but could conceivably be used to help a few species that biologists and the public deem to be important enough for the effort and could otherwise go extinct.

The species would need to be easy to collect, raise or move. Its habitat requirements would need to be well understood, and there would need to be viable habitat options outside of the species' current range.

The authors present a conceptual framework for just how such decisions might be made.

This framework includes fundamental biological questions which much be addressed before decisions to act can be made, such as risk of extinction if nothing is done versus risk of harm to the new community if the species is moved there.

In addition to biological considerations, their framework includes social dimensions of the issue, such as cost and inherent value people place on the target species.

The authors argue that the most suitable scenario is when the risk of extinction of the target species is high in its historic range, but the risk to the community into which the species will be imported is low. It might also be appropriate when the likelihood of successful colonization is high, but the time and cost to perform the transplantation is low.

"Passively assisting coral reef migration may be acceptable, but transplanting polar bears to Antarctica, where they would likely drive native penguins to extinction, would not be acceptable," Parmesan said.

"Ultimately, the decision about whether to actively assist the movement of a species into new territories will rest on ethical and aesthetic grounds as much as on hard science," she said. "Conservation has never been an exact science, but preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change is likely to require a fundamental rethinking of what it means to 'preserve biodiversity.'"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Lesley Hughes, Sue McIntyre, David Lindenmayer, Camille Parmesan, Hugh Possingham & Chris Thomas. Moving with the times: assisted colonization and rapid climate change. Science, July 18, 2008

Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "Should We Move Species To Save Them From Climate Change?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717140445.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2008, July 18). Should We Move Species To Save Them From Climate Change?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717140445.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "Should We Move Species To Save Them From Climate Change?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080717140445.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins