ECOLOGY: Assisted Colonization and Rapid Climate Change

Centre for Marine Studies, Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Reef Studies and the Coral Reef Targeted Research Project, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland (QLD) 4072, Australia.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 07/2008; 321(5887):345-6. DOI: 10.1126/science.1157897
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Moving species outside their historic ranges may mitigate loss of biodiversity in the face of global climate change.

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Available from: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Sep 22, 2014
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    • "To conserve and recover species in such a dynamic and novel future landscape, spatial and temporal baselines will have to be evaluated simultaneously. For example, future recovery of species such as the New Zealand hihi (Notiomystis cincta) and the Tuamotu kingfisher (Todiramphus gambieri) may require proactive assisted colonization to new areas as climate change renders habits permanently unsuitable within their historical range (Walther et al. 2002, Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2008, Kesler et al. 2012, Miller et al. 2012, Chauvenet et al. 2013). Thus, there is a need for a decision-making framework (see below) that explicitly evaluates a suite of site-and speciesspecific spatio-temporal factors in determining when to use or abandon historical baselines in endangered species recovery. "
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    ABSTRACT: Baselines rooted in historical records or concepts of previous conditions are necessarily used to identify and generate recovery goals for endangered species. However, strict adherence to various spatial, temporal, and genetic baselines can limit endangered species recovery actions, success, and the broader conservation of biodiversity. Recent approaches that deviate from historical baselines such as assisted colonization and intentional hybridization have been used to facilitate recovery but lack broad acceptance and an underpinning conceptual framework to guide their use in practice. We here present a novel framework for addressing when baseline-abandoning approaches should be implemented that requires both scientific input and management-defined thresholds. We submit that in cases where species face extreme endangerment and managers have little chance of reducing or ameliorating future threats within a species' historical range, it is better to embrace a more flexible recovery model that includes taking action that deviates from historical baselines. Embracing this reinterpretation of management baselines not only has the potential to advance endangered species recovery but could have important cascading effects on ecosystem-based approaches to conservation. Further, rethinking adherences to baselines can affect our broader social–psychological relationship with wildlife conservation and management. Overall, although historical data on baseline conditions will remain vital to the initial setting of recovery goals, many situations will require more dynamic interpretations of paths to recovering endangered species. © 2014 The Wildlife Society.
    Journal of Wildlife Management 01/2015; 79(1). DOI:10.1002/jwmg.800 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    • "Assisted migration, assisted colonization, and species translocation are already common conservation practices applied to variety of plant and animal species [21], [22]. Unwitting or unintended human introduction of alien, invasive species to new environs via long-distance transport pathways is arguably a version of the same idea. "
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    ABSTRACT: Plants and animals have responded to past climate changes by migrating with habitable environments, sometimes shifting the boundaries of their geographic ranges by tens of kilometers per year or more. Species migrating in response to present climate conditions, however, must contend with landscapes fragmented by anthropogenic disturbance. We consider this problem in the context of wind-dispersed tree species. Mechanisms of long-distance seed dispersal make these species capable of rapid migration rates. Models of species-front migration suggest that even tree species with the capacity for long-distance dispersal will be unable to keep pace with future spatial changes in temperature gradients, exclusive of habitat fragmentation effects. Here we present a numerical model that captures the salient dynamics of migration by long-distance dispersal for a generic tree species. We then use the model to explore the possible effects of assisted colonization within a fragmented landscape under a simulated tree-planting scheme. Our results suggest that an assisted-colonization program could accelerate species-front migration rates enough to match the speed of climate change, but such a program would involve an environmental-sustainability intervention at a massive scale.
    PLoS ONE 08/2014; 9(8):e105380. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0105380 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "This process also creates forest fragments that are often too small to maintain viable populations, and it increases edge effects at the interface between intact and cleared habitat (Aide et al., 2000; Köhler et al., 2003; Urech et al., 2011). Fragmentation also impedes the dispersal of species (Andrén, 1994) and therefore reduces their potential for adaptation to future climate change (Travis, 2003; Hannah et al., 2008; Hoegh-Guldberg et al., 2008). Southern Madagascar, which is already the driest part of the island, will experience the greatest increase in temperatures (2.6 • C) as well as a decrease in precipitation in the coming decades, a prediction that will have significant biological implications in a landscapes that is heavily exploited and fragmented, and therefore more vulnerable to drought (Hannah et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Slash-and-burn cultivation is a major cause of deforestation in Madagascar, and abandonment leads to the secondary vegetation dynamics, i.e. colonization by herbaceous vegetation, shrubs and trees. The study was conducted in south-eastern Madagascar in a steep transition zone along an altitudinal and a sharp precipitation gradient between a high altitude rainforest and a lowland dry tropical forest. The restoration of gaps created by abandoned fields in this narrow, winding corridor could be essential to maintain connectivity between two areas (areas 1 and 2) of Andohahela National Park. Prior to implementing restoration, baseline ecological information is needed on the reference ecosystem and vegetation resilience must be studied to identify restoration needs. This study aims to (1) assess whether cultivation practices (irrigated rice vs. cassava, maize and sweet potato) influence vegetation dynamics after abandonment; (2) study vegetation dynamics and soils over time since abandonment, and (3) compare secondary forest vegetation and soils with those of mature forest patches. Surveys of vegetation and soil were conducted in 26 secondary forest patches abandoned from 3 to >25 years (synchronic approach) and in 19 adjacent mature forest patches (controls). No relationship between age of abandonment and vegetation species richness, composition or structure was found, but clear differences were detected between secondary and mature forest patches. Secondary forests are not colonized by species from mature forests, but instead their vegetation dynamics appear to lead to the establishment of thorny thickets dominated by Mimosa delicatula, which is absent from the mature forest.
    Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 07/2014; 159:1-8. DOI:10.1016/j.agee.2012.06.016 · 3.40 Impact Factor
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