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 Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Porous crystalline materials: TU Graz researcher shows method for controlled growth

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>