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: 31.48). 07/2008; 321(5887):345-6. DOI: 10.1126/science.1157897
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Translocation of individuals across a barrier which hampers natural colonisation is a potentially important, but debated, conservation tool for a variety of organisms in a world altered by anthropogenic influences. The apollo Parnassius apollo is an endangered butterfly whose distribution retracted dramatically during the 1900s across Europe. In Finland the apollo currently occupies only a fraction of the range of its suitable habitat and is apparently unable to re-colonise other areas. Using eggs collected from wild-caught females from the species’ current Finnish stronghold, a population was reared in order to translocate larvae into an unoccupied, but highly suitable, part of the Finnish archipelago where the species historically occurred until its national decline in the 1950s. In 2009 a restricted number of larvae (1 larva/10 host plants) were released on 25 islands in the inner, middle and outer archipelago zones. In 2010, nine islands situated in all three archipelago zones were (re)stocked with a high density of larvae (1/host plant). In 2011, apollo larval populations were found only on islands in the outer archipelago zone, which were then restocked. The species remained present here in the following two years (2012, 2013) and was hence able to sustain multi-annual population establishment without restocking. Our findings demonstrate that empty suitable habitat may in reality consist of only a few sites where population establishment is possible. Hence, starting the introduction in many sites, which are putatively suitable based on biotic and abiotic criteria derived from species’ existing populations, but then “zooming in” on a smaller set of promising sites showing evidence of successful establishment was key to the success of this translocation.
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    ABSTRACT: The susceptibility of reef-building corals to climatic anomalies is well documented and a cause of great concern for the future of coral reefs. Reef corals are normally considered to tolerate only a narrow range of climatic conditions with only a small number of species considered heat-tolerant. Occasionally however, corals can be seen thriving in unusually harsh reef settings and these are cause for some optimism about the future of coral reefs. Here we document for the first time a diverse assemblage of 225 species of hard corals occurring in the intertidal zone of the Bonaparte Archipelago, north western Australia. We compare the environmental conditions at our study site (tidal regime, SST and level of turbidity) with those experienced at four other more typical tropical reef locations with similar levels of diversity. Physical extremes in the Bonaparte Archipelago include tidal oscillations of up to 8 m, long subaerial exposure times (>3.5 hrs), prolonged exposure to high SST and fluctuating turbidity levels. We conclude the timing of low tide in the coolest parts of the day ameliorates the severity of subaerial exposure, and the combination of strong currents and a naturally high sediment regime helps to offset light and heat stress. The low level of anthropogenic impact and proximity to the Indo-west Pacific centre of diversity are likely to further promote resistance and resilience in this community. This assemblage provides an indication of what corals may have existed in other nearshore locations in the past prior to widespread coastal development, eutrophication, coral predator and disease outbreaks and coral bleaching events. Our results call for a re-evaluation of what conditions are optimal for coral survival, and the Bonaparte intertidal community presents an ideal model system for exploring how species resilience is conferred in the absence of confounding factors such as pollution.
    PLoS ONE 02/2015; DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0117791 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Assisted colonization, or the translocation of species threatened with extinction to habitats outside their indigenous range (usually as a response to predicted climate shifts), is a divisive issue for conservationists. Yet, history shows that wildlife scientists were discussing the trade-offs and challenges of translocating species for conservation purposes, including introducing them to new habitats, long before anthropogenic climate change was recognized as posing a conservation problem. Here we examine a case of the scientific and policy deliberations of a high profile group of scientists and policy advisers from the 1960s (the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife's Committee on Rare and Endangered Wildlife Species) to provide a useful historical context for assessing current debates on assisted colonization. The Committee's attempt to produce a consistent policy for the ‘transplantation’ of threatened species illustrates how translocation debates have long hinged on an unresolved set of scientific and conceptual concerns, including the relative value of individual species and historically intact ecosystems and the philosophical status of human-assisted movement of wildlife. Bringing the Committee's deliberations to light places contemporary debates over assisted colonization in the USA in their historical context and illustrates how what often appear to be highly technical and scientific disagreements over conservation translocations are ultimately driven by deeper conceptual issues about the means and ends of conservation.
    Oryx 04/2013; 48(02):186-194. DOI:10.1017/S0030605312001500 · 1.91 Impact Factor

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