How ready are we to move species threatened from climate change? Insights into the assisted colonization debate from Australia

Nola Hancock*, Rachael Gallagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Assisted colonization, the intentional movement of species beyond their native range, has been proposed as a climate change adaptation tool for biodiversity conservation. The risks and benefits of its implementation are still being debated but already the climate is changing, species are moving and the pressure on at-risk species must therefore be increasing. However, instances where moving species beyond their natural range purely for conservation purposes due to climate change are few, and the opportunity for science to inform practice is limited. Here we survey active participants in flora translocations and/or flora conservation in Australia in order to investigate the gap between theoretical and conceptual ideas about assisted colonization and to gauge preparedness for its implementation. We found that actions that mitigate proximal threats are preferred over those that move species beyond their current range. A lack of knowledge of species biology and ecology is an impediment to the acceptance of assisted colonization. In addition, prohibitive costs and the potential increased risk of the spread of diseases, pests and/or pathogens are viewed as more important obstacles of successful assisted colonization than potential for invasion at the recipient site. Full approval from all stakeholders at the source and recipient sites was found to be the most important factor for the successful assisted colonization of flora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-838
Number of pages9
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume39
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

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