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Notre Dame researchers describe new tool for evaluating 'managed relocations'
Date:5/26/2009

Three University of Notre Dame researchers are among the authors of a new paper that describes a ground-breaking tool designed to help policy makers determine when and how to use an environmental strategy known as "managed relocation."

Jessica Hellmann and Jason McLachlan, assistant professors of biology, and Alejandro Camacho, associate professor of law, are part of a multi-disciplinary working group that produced the paper, which appears in this week's edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. David Richardson of Stellenbosch University in South Africa led the writing of the paper. Hellmann and McLachlan co-led the working group, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and the private Cedar Tree Foundation, and they will host the final group meeting at Notre Dame in August.

Managed relocation, also known as "assisted migration," has emerged as a possible means of preserving species endangered by rapid climate change and other environmental threats. The concept involves picking a species up and moving it potentially hundreds of miles to a place thought to be more accommodating, but which is outside of the species' native range.

The strategy has been a source of strong feelings and controversy among conservation biologists. Some scientists and policy experts fear that the relocated species could harm their new habitats, cause extinctions of local species, or create further environmental problems, as has been the case with invasive species.

These concerns are shared by members of the working group. However, they contend that the rapid pace of climate change makes it critical that scientists and policy makers begin to assess such actions now. This urgency does not mean that they advocate acting precipitously, however, and the authors have developed this tool to make informed decisions with areas of uncertainty clearly delineated.

The tool uses multi-disciplinary criteria for to
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Contact: William Gilroy
gilroy.6@nd.edu
574-631-4127
University of Notre Dame
Source:Eurekalert

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