Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change forcing a 'move it or lose it' approach to species conservation?

04.10.2010
What does it take to save a species in the 21st century? The specter of climate change, with predicted losses to biodiversity as high as 35 percent, has some scientists and managers considering taking their conservation strategies on the road.

Managed relocation (MR) is literally the physical relocation of endangered or threatened species of plants and animals, by humans, to new, and foreign geographical climes. It addresses the concern that climate shifts may make many species' historical ranges environmentally inhospitable, and that the rapid speed of change and habitat fragmentation will prevent them from adapting to these new conditions or moving themselves. And while conservationists argue that the practice may not preserve some species, such as the polar bear, relocation is a hotly debated option for others' long-term survival.

Arizona State University environmental ethicist Ben Minteer and ecologist James P. Collins ask hard questions about the practice, also known as assisted colonization, assisted migration or assisted translocation, in their article "Move it or Lose it" published October 1 in the journal Ecological Applications.

Stress on native species is just one of the unknowns that come into play with translocation of species. There also remains the more critical question of how to evaluate such management decisions, according to Minteer, an associate professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences and researcher in the Center for Biology and Society, and Collins, a Virginia G. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment in ASU's School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"New approaches to conservation, such as MR mean the need for a new 'ecological ethics' geared toward problem-solving in ecological research and policy," says Minteer. "Beyond asking 'should' we do it, there's the more pragmatic ethical question: what separates a 'good' from a 'bad' MR activity?" In a time of rapid global change, Collins says that "ecologists and biodiversity managers will have to think hard about not only what management actions are possible, but also which ones are acceptable ethically."

Such discussion is as critical as the technical and scientific questions of relocation: the "can we do it and how we do it," the authors state.

Minteer points out that while moving species around is nothing new, the climate change rationale for doing so is. "Looking past creating parks and shielding species from bullets, bulldozers and oil spills in favor of the anticipatory relocation for conservation purposes strikes many as different, in terms of motive and perhaps the extent of the consequences."

Minteer and Collins's call to reassess conservation goals in the face of climate change is timely. While the practice has no guarantees of success, managed relocation of species is already being put into practice. The Florida torreya tree is an example, along with the proposed relocation of the Quino Checkerspot butterfly and the Iberian lynx.

Collins says that the real scientific concern with species relocation – voiced by prominent skeptics – is that crossing evolutionary boundaries via managed relocation will produce a number of negative ecological and genetic consequences for species and systems on the receiving end.

How to leap the ethical gulf separating decisions about which species should be moved and "saved" is also critical to the debate. Though some argue that human activity has already played an active role in shifting species and that some populations are "naturally" undergoing range shifts without assistance due to climate change in response to human pressures as well as natural ones.

However, as Minteer points out, "There is also the more philosophical objection to the fact that 'we' are doing this, rather than the populations themselves, and that this is therefore another example of human arrogance toward wild species and the environment more generally."

Does the shift to focus on relocation strategies mean that more traditional routes to preserve species, such as species migration corridors that connect forest patches, will become anachronistic?

"Traditional philosophy and policy of conserving species will likely change to reflect a more anticipatory and interventionist mode of thinking," Minteer says. "What this spells for conventional norms of ecological preservation is that they may have to give way to a more dynamic and 'novel systems' model rather than historical ones."

In other words, the "metabolism" of conservation will have to speed up to keep in step with climate change, Minteer believes.

Some believe that the distraction from the use of traditional protected areas and historical systems models, will also, once managed relocation is legitimized, open the floodgates and that people will start moving species willy nilly around the landscape. "I think that fear is exaggerated, though the precedent that would be set for ecological policy by formally adopting MR, even as a last resort, is indeed a significant issue," says Minteer.

"How to formulate new approaches to ecological research and management landscapes in an era of rapid and global environmental change raises original and difficult ethical questions about how to save species and protect landscapes," Collins states. "We can improve the decisions we make by using more collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to such problem-solving and decision-making."

Margaret Coulombe | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>