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Global warming experts recommend drastic measures to save species
Date:7/17/2008

AUSTIN, TexasAn international team of conservation scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States, including University of Texas at Austin Professor Camille Parmesan, call for new conservation tactics, such as assisted migration, in the face of the growing threat of climate change.

They report their policy ideas in a paper published July 18 in the journal Science.

The authors argue that both the rapid rate of climate change and the presence of human-made barriers to natural movement will prevent many species from shifting where they live in response to changes in local climate.

They suggest that human-assisted translocation of individuals, often termed "assisted migration" or "assisted colonization," may be necessary to ensure colonization of new geographic regions as parts or all of the historical species' range becomes unsuitable.

"When I first brought up this idea some 10 years ago in conservation meetings, most people were horrified," Parmesan said. "But now, as the reality of global warming sinks in, and species are already becoming endangered and even going extinct because of climate change, I'm seeing a new willingness in the conservation community to at least talk about the possibility of helping out species by moving them around."

Parmesan and her colleagues point out that assisted migration can never be a major solution for wildlife, but could conceivably be used to help a few species that biologists and the public deem to be important enough for the effort and could otherwise go extinct.

The species would need to be easy to collect, raise or move. Its habitat requirements would need to be well understood, and there would need to be viable habitat options outside of the species' current range.

The authors present a conceptual framework for just how such decisions might be made.

This framework includes fundamental biological questions which much be
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Contact: Lee Clippard
lclippard@mail.utexas.edu
512-232-0675
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert

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