Friday, March 18, 2011

Intervention offers 'best chance' to save species endangered by climate change

Science Centric: University of York scientist is proposing a radical programme of 'assisted colonisation' to save species endangered by climate change. Chris Thomas, Professor of Conservation Biology, says the strategy is applicable across the world, and he suggests Britain as a potential haven for species such as the Iberian lynx, the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Pyrenean Desman and the Provence Chalkhill Blue butterfly.

In an opinion paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Professor Thomas, of the University's Department of Biology, says that moving endangered species is the only viable option to maintain some climate-endangered species in the wild. He says: 'Expanding the dispersal of endangered species may represent the most effective climate change adaptation strategy available to conservationists to reduce extinction rates across the globe.'

Guidelines on releases into the wild for the conservation purposes condone only the release of a species into an area where it used to occur - re-introduction rather than introduction - with aim of the recovery of a species in its native range and/or restoring the ecological community.

But Professor Thomas says a more radical policy is now required if humanity wishes to minimise the number of species that become extinct from all causes, including from climate change and species invasions. He says increased local and regional species richness that would result is positive, provided that this does not result in higher global extinction rates. 'Translocation represents one of the principal means of saving species from extinction from climate change; in conjunction with maintaining large areas of high quality (low human impact) habitats,' he says….

An Iberian lynx in profile, from (c) Programa de Conservación Ex-situ del Lince Ibérico, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

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