Moving species could save them, says expert

March 18th, 2011 - 6:09 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 18 (ANI): A radical programme of ‘assisted colonisation’ to save species endangered by climate change is being proposed by a University of York scientist.

Chris Thomas, Professor of Conservation Biology, said 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.

Thomas, of the University’s Department of Biology, said that moving endangered species is the only viable option to maintain some climate-endangered species in the wild.

He said: “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.

“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 said.

“We need to develop a long ’shopping list’ of potential translocations and, where possible, put in place monitoring of extant populations to help identify when action is needed. The later we leave it, the harder and more expensive translocations will become.”

“Each species should be considered carefully to judge the balance between the potential benefits of helping to save a species from extinction and any changes to existing species within the UK.”

Thomas said Britain is an ideal recipient location for translocated species.

“A British Assisted Regional Colonisation area would contribute to the conservation of globally threatened species,” he added.

The views have been expressed in Trends in Ecology and Evolution. (ANI)

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