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 91 
 on: January 17, 2012, 04:05:57 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
Tropical birds are moving to higher elevations because of climate change, but they may not be moving fast enough to keep up, according to a new study by Duke University researchers.

The study, recently published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLoS ONE, finds that the birds aren't migrating as rapidly as scientists previously anticipated based on recorded temperature increases.

The animals instead may be tracking changes in vegetation, which can only move slowly via seed dispersal.
"This is the first study to evaluate the effects of warming on the elevation ranges of tropical birds," says Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and a co-author of the study. "It provides new evidence of their response to warming, but also shows there is a delay in their response."
Evidence from temperate areas, such as North America and Europe, shows that many animal and plant species are adapting to climate change by migrating northward, breeding earlier or flowering earlier in response to rising temperatures.

"However, our understanding of the response of tropical birds to warming is still poor," says German Forero-Medina, a PhD student at Duke's Nicholas School who is lead author of the new study. "Moving to the north doesn't help them, because tropical temperatures do not change very much with latitude. So moving "up" to higher elevations is the only way to go -- but there are few historical data that can serve as baselines for comparison over time."
What is going on with tropical species at higher altitudes is important, Forero-Medina explains, because about half of all birds species live at 3500 feet or more above sea level, and of these species, more than 80 percent may live within the tropics.

In 2010, the authors of the new study and a team of biologists participated in an expedition to the summit of the remote Cerros del Sira mountains in central Peru -- a place visited by only a few ornithologists on prior occasions. The complex topography, geology, and climate of the mountains have produced isolated patches of habitat with unique avian communities and distinct taxa.

Forero-Medina and his colleagues used survey data collected on bird species in the region in the 1970s by John Terborgh, research professor emeritus at Duke, to compare past and present distributions.

"Using John Terborgh's groundbreaking data -- the first ever collected from this region -gave us a unique opportunity to understand the effects of 40 years of warming on tropical birds," Forero-Medina says.

The biologists found that although the ranges of many bird species have shifted uphill since Terborgh's time, the shifts fell short of what scientists had projected based on temperature increases over the four decades.
"This may be bad news," Pimm says. "Species may be damned if they move to higher elevations to keep cool and then simply run out of habitat. But, by staying put, they may have more habitat but they may overheat."



 92 
 on: January 17, 2012, 04:00:51 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
ScienceDaily (Jan. 7, 2012) — A Malagasy-German research team has discovered a new primate species in the Sahafina Forest in eastern Madagascar, a forest that has not been studied before. The name of the new species is Gerp's mouse lemur (Microcebus gerpi), chosen to honour the Malagasy research group GERP (Groupe d'Étude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar). Several researchers of GERP have visited the Sahafina Forest in 2008 and 2009 to create an inventory the local lemurs.

They captured several mouse lemurs, measured them, took photos and small biopsies for genetic studies, and released them again. Prof. Ute Radespiel, Institute of Zoology of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, analysed the samples and the morphological dataset, and confirmed that the animals from the Sahafina Forest belong to an undescribed species of the small nocturnal mouse lemurs.

„We were quite surprised by these findings. The Sahafina Forest is only 50km away from the Mantadia National Park in eastern Madagascar, which contains a different and much smaller species, the Goodman's mouse lemur," commented Prof. Radespiel. In contrast, the Gerp's mouse lemur belongs to the group of larger mouse lemurs, i.e. has a body mass of about 68g, and is therefore almost "a giant" compared to the Goodman's mouse lemur (ca. 44g body mass).

The distribution of the Gerp's mouse lemur is probably restricted to the remaining fragments of lowland evergreen rain forest of this region in eastern Madagascar. Continuing deforestation poses a serious threat for these animals. The researchers from Hanover/Germany, and Madagascar published their discovery together in the journal Primates.



 93 
 on: January 17, 2012, 03:56:59 am 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
ScienceDaily (Dec. 8, 2011) — A study of South American songbirds completed by the Department of Biology at Queen's University and the Argentine Museum of Natural History, has discovered these birds differ dramatically in colour and song yet show very little genetic differences, indicating they are on the road to becoming a new species.

"One of Darwin's accomplishments was to show that species could change, that they were not the unaltered, immutable products of creation," says Leonardo Campagna, a Ph.-D biology student at the Argentine Museum of Natural History in Buenos Aires, who studied at Queen's as part of his thesis. "However it is only now, some 150 years after the publication of his most important work, On the Origin of Species, that we have the tools to begin to truly understand all of the stages that might lead to speciation which is the process by which an ancestral species divides into two or more new species."
For decades scientists have struggled to understand all of the varied forces that give rise to distinct species. Mr. Campagna and his research team studied a group of nine species of South American seedeaters (finches) to understand when and how they evolved.

The study found differences in male reproductive plumage and in some key aspects of the songs that they use to court females. Now, the group is looking to find the genes that underlie these differences, as these so-called candidate genes may well prove to be responsible for the evolution of a new species. This will allow researchers to gain insights into evolution.

"Studies like ours teach us something about what species really are, what processes are involved and what might be lost if these and other species disappear."

Campagna's research co-supervisor is Stephen Lougheed, Acting Director of QUBS and an associate professor in the Department of Biology. QUBS has been a pivotal part of research and teaching at Queen's for more than six decades and hosts researchers from both Canadian and international institutions. Research at QUBS has resulted in more than 800 publications in peer-reviewed journals and more than 200 graduate and undergraduate theses.



 94 
 on: October 30, 2011, 06:06:00 am 
Started by Guest - Last post by NCS-Aluthgama
Well, we are new in this forum - but this page seems to be right...to introduce our organisation.
We are the Nature Conservation Society (NCS), based in Aluthgama. We run
an educational centre (EDC) and a Nature Volunteers program.
We not only give children a free education (English and IT) we also support the
nature and wildlife - with an environmental awareness program on one site
and regular activities like beach cleaning and mangrove replanting on the other site.
Feel welcome to visit our homepage: www.naturevolunteers.com to find
information about us.  Wink
Kind regards to all  Smiley
NCS Aluthgama

 95 
 on: October 30, 2011, 05:53:23 am 
Started by Guest - Last post by Guest
introduse new Members

 96 
 on: August 25, 2011, 05:25:51 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
It’s one of nature’s greatest miracles: millions of birds leave Africa each spring and head north to nest in the UK and other parts of Europe, only to return to Africa each autumn. However this multi-million-winged migration is under threat.

In the UK, for example, according to the 2010 Breeding Bird Survey of the 10 UK birds which have declined the most since 1995, eight are summer migrants, including the Common Cuckoo, European Turtle-dove, Yellow Wagtail and Common Nightingale. Similar rates of loss have been noted across Europe.

The decline of these birds is so devastatingly fast that it’s rapidly being dubbed one of the greatest crises in modern conservation.

Between 1995 and 2010, according to the 2010 Breeding Bird Survey the UK has lost more than seven out of every ten turtle-doves (74%) and nearly half of its cuckoos (48%). Over the same period: nightingale and Wood Warbler numbers have more than halved (63% and 60%, respectively); Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail populations have tumbled by 55%; the Pied Flycatcher population has fallen by 51%; and Spotted Flycatcher has dropped by 47%.  These losses are unsustainable and if left unchecked will put these species in danger of being wiped out across large parts of the UK. Many of these species, including the nightingale, cuckoo and turtle-dove, used to be familiar songbirds.

For some species the crisis appears to be deepening as nightingale and turtle-dove numbers slumped by 27%t and 21% respectively, between 2009 and 2010 across the UK. The urgency of this crisis has prompted British birdwatchers to raise funds to help support crucial conservation actions.

The organisers of this year’s British Birdwatching Fair, held at Rutland Water, hope to raise in excess of £250,000. Part of these funds will be used to raise awareness of the plight of these migrant birds and the need for action across the whole of their migration corridor from Europe through the Mediterranean and into Africa. Birdfair funding will also support highly targeted conservation actions on the ground in three West African countries, where these birds spend the winter.

Tracing the journeys of thousands of migratory birds which commute between Africa and Europe, visitors and representatives from Ghana will be amongst the guests at this year’s British Birdwatching Fair and the event will be opened by His Excellency Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, the Ghanaian High Commissioner in London.

Richard Grimmett, Director of Conservation at BirdLife International, said: “In some cases, it is necessary to gain a better understanding of what is driving these declines, but for others we already know enough to be able to target the principle causes. These birds urgently need our help.”

The RSPB’s Martin Davies, one of the co-founders of the Birdfair, said: “The cuckoo and the gentle purring of a turtle dove provide a comforting vocal backdrop to picnics and village cricket games. However, we are in danger of losing these sentinels of summer, as the birds’ populations have slumped since the mid 1990s.

“Birds do not recognise international boundaries and all the countries along their migration routes have a shared responsibility to look after these remarkable species. The world is changing rapidly and pressures such as habitat destruction, illegal hunting and climate change are believed to be having a major impact on populations of these birds, but it will be a race against time to tackle these declines. We hope Birdfair funds will make a significant contribution.”

The British Birdwatching Fair, which is being held at Rutland Water for its 23rd year, has a long history of funding global conservation projects. Since its launch in 1989, the fair has raised well over £2 million and has funded a range of projects from albatrosses in the southern Ocean to the rainforests of Ecuador and Indonesia. Last year’s focus was the threatened birds of Ethiopia. The event raised £242,000 for vital conservation work for those birds confined to the south of the country.

Tim Appleton of the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust is the fair’s co-founder and organiser. He said: “Reflecting the movement of birds around the world and the urgent need for conservation action in many countries, we’ve always felt it appropriate that the Birdfair has an international feel and focus. The same is true this year, but when we started the Birdfair we could scarcely have imagined that one day that international focus would be on rapidly declining species so close to home. It’s deeply troubling that birds that occur within a stone’s throw of the Birdfair, such as turtle doves, cuckoos and nightingales, are now in such desperate need of help. These are amazing birds worthy of every ounce of effort we can take to protect them: and we know that many visiting birdwatchers feel the same way.”

Funding from the British Birdwatching Fair will complement funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery to develop highly-targeted conservation programmes through the BirdLife International Partners in several key West African countries, including Burkina Faso (Naturama, Fondation des Amis de la Nature), Nigeria (Nigerian Conservation Foundation) and Ghana (Ghana Wildlife Society). The RSPB (the UK Partner of BirdLife International), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and Vogelbescherming Nederland (the Dutch Partner of BirdLife International) are providing support to BirdLife International’s African Partnership Secretariat, which is managing and co-ordinating the overall project. The RSPB, the BTO and the BirdLife International Danish partner – Dansk Ornitologisk Forening  – are also working on closely-related projects in West Africa investigating the causes of decline of migrant birds shared between the two continents.

Migratory birds elsewhere around the world are also in trouble, and the Birdfair has agreed to fund conservation projects focusing on migratory species for the next three years. The Birdfair will become the first global sponsor of BirdLife International’s Flyways Programme. In 2012, the Birdfair will fund conservation work along the Eastern Asian flyway and in 2013 the focus will shift to the Americas.

Tim Appleton added: “Birdfair has grown enormously over its 23-year history, but it still manages to capture a great atmosphere of friendliness and relaxed enjoyment. In fact, it is a great day out for anyone interested in the countryside. For many exhibitors and visitors alike, it is firmly established as the international wildlife event of the year.”



 97 
 on: August 25, 2011, 05:21:49 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil

by Joe Sultana, John J. Borg, Charles Gauci & Victor Falzon
With a foreword by  Marco Lambertini,  CEO Birdlife International


Hardback – 380 pages – 459 photographs -  40 Maps – 142 tables, graphs & charts

 

BirdLife Malta has launched a book in the month of August about its breeding birds. Please see below the information about what it deals with and how to get it.


◦The aim of the book is to review and update the status of the breeding birds of Malta, and to present a historical overview.
◦The first chapter sets the backdrop by outlining the Maltese Islands’ geography and main habitats, as well as some of the effects of the human impact on the natural environment, also highlighting landmarks in bird protection legislation, and BirdLife Malta’s contribution to ornithology.
◦18 chapters focus in detail on the regular breeding birds of Malta, with a chapter for each species giving chief characters, voice and diet, local status and distribution and breeding behavior, including the results of all local studies as well as outlining the birds’ breeding history, trends and conservation status.
◦Chapter 19 deals with another twenty-seven species that breed irregularly or only began breeding very recently. The last two chapters cover birds that bred in the past, doubtful breeding records, as well as feral and introduced species.
◦To complement the text and to celebrate the beauty of our birds, the book is illustrated with over 450 photographs, as well as plenty of maps, charts and tables.
The authors, producers, and photographers offered their work and assistance free of charge to BirdLife Malta as a contribution in its struggle against spring hunting.

Hardback: Price (not including postage & packing): 33 Euro, 29 Pounds Sterling, or 49 US Dollars.


 98 
 on: August 25, 2011, 05:02:40 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
The results of the first ever National Elephant Survey is currently undergoing a close scrutiny at the Statistics Department of the Peradeniya University. The Department of Wildlife Conservation expects to issue an interim report as the initial step and later a complete survey.

Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus), is a sub species of the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). The 53,000 Asian Elephants live in 13 countries in the world whereas its counterpart the 600,000 African Elephants ('Loxodonta africana') live in 37 countries. Among this highly dense elephant population Sri Lankan elephants estimated to be 10% of the world population. According to the historical documents available with the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) the first numbers are recorded from 1900s. Accordingly it is believed that in the early 20th century there could have been approximately 10,000 elephants roaming on this island.

In 1951 the elephant count had been between 1,000 - 1,500 (Norris, 1959). According to DWC administration reports in 1954 the number had been 900 and in 1956 it has dropped to 750 - 800. Again in 1959 the elephant number rises to 1626 (Norris, 1959).

The first survey, more in the nature of a census, conducted by the Department of Wildlife Conservation was in 1993. In this the DWC carried out the survey only in five wildlife regions including the Northwestern, Mahaweli, Eastern and the Southern regions.

The total count was 1967. Second count took place in the Northwestern wildlife region in 2004 in which elephants in Kurunegala, Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Mannar and Vavuniya districts and in the Wilpattu National Park were counted.

Accordingly in the Wilpattu 51 elephants were counted, 143 elephants in the Kurunegala district, 198 in the Puttalam district, 613 in the Anuradhapura district, 71 in the Vavuniya district and 220 in the Mannar district. The third was in the Mahaweli wildlife region in 2008 which showed a 2149 elephant population in the region.

None of the surveys were able to give a clear picture of the nature of the Sri Lankan elephant population. Yet, none of the surveys were able to give an idea on the population trend, distribution pattern, heavily and moderately used areas of the elephants and abundance of tuskers.

The North could be the most neglected area among all the regions across the country in the previous elephant surveys. Out of the total 1553 observation points located countrywide 162 were in the Northern wildlife region.

As peace and safety returned to the Northern Province the Wildlife authorities were able to comb the jungles looking for jumbo herds those were not properly identified for nearly two decades. Particularly Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi were out of reach.

The Northern elephant population can only be figured following the end of the analysis. "Unfortunately, it is more difficult to count elephants in a forest than fish in a pond!" states Professor Charles Santhiapillai - a leading elephant expert involved in the survey - in one of his earlier papers named 'Counting elephants in wild'. Thus the wildlife authorities had to establish a method for proper observation, an accurate counting and analysis system. "The observation part of the survey had a smooth run, particularly considering the weather in many parts of the country.

It really did not hamper our mission," said H.D. Ratnayake, Director General DWC. The water hole counting method fits perfectly to the usual dry weather of this part of the year.

"We fixed a day close to Poya since the moon shines bright during this period. And even in the night we can observe the elephant behavioural patterns," said DWC's Deputy Director for Research and Training S.R.B. Dissanayake.

This was more of a survey of Sri Lankan elephants, rather a count, Dissanayake said. Elephants could be mistakenly recounted or would be miscounted as the subjective area is large.

"These errors will be corrected during the analysis at the Statistics Department of the Peradeniya University," Dissanayake added.

For the survey in the Northern Province the Sri Lanka Army extended their helping hand as a majority of the people in the North have just resettled or still resettling.

Along with the wildlife officials, soldiers of the Army searched the wilderness of the North for elephants in the three-day survey. According to Manjula Amararathne, Deputy Director of the DWC in charge of the Northern Province survey, their discoveries in the Northern unsearched lands are significant.

"There are considerable number of elephants observed in the North yet it is too early to give a conclusion," he added.

"We decided on the observation points after discussing with the villagers now settled in the area as well as with the army personnel. Yet the pattern of elephant movements were different at certain points especially in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya North and we had to make changes," Amararathne added.

For example the villagers would say the elephants were frequently seen but during the counting sessions the elephants may go to the next closest water hole. "That is the nature of wildlife," he said.

Yet the elephants rarely altered their daily routine unless more water resources become available in the other parts of the forests, especially due to rain.


Evidence of elephants' presence in the jungles were abundant, especially near tanks and ponds. Elephant dung, foot marks, broken trees and crushed grass were a common sight during the jungle tour.

The low country Dry Zone which is the last bastion of the elephant in Sri Lanka is dotted with thousands of man-made irrigation reservoirs or tanks.

These tanks and their associated grasslands provide excellent habitat for elephants and raise the carrying capacity, said Professor Charles Santiapillai. Commenting on the present survey Prof. Santiapillai said it is a truly gargantuan task for the DWC.

"This is also the first time, the DWC has enlisted the services of an experienced Statistician from the University of Peradeniya to analyze the data so that errors due to double counting of elephants could be reduced as much as possible. In addition to the observers placed at these observation points, the DWC also used a number of mobile patrols to cover large areas.

Therefore the present survey is an improvement on the earlier ones carried out in 1993, 2004 and 2008," he added. As he explained the key to success is being honest with the recording of the data. "As long as the observers record faithfully what they see and not what they imagine, the analysis of the data will be enormously rewarding.

However, when you employ a variety of people, with different educational background to classify elephants according to sex and age, errors are inevitable," said Prof. Santiapillai. Hence it is important that we discard dubious data and concentrate on what appears to be the most plausible and reliable information. As Prof. Santiapillai further explained this survey was planned to get information on the population structure and composition; it was not meant to be a census of elephants. "The latter is almost impossible in Sri Lanka (& elsewhere in Asia) given the dense and tangled nature of the vegetation," he explained.

As Prof. Santiapillai explains, ecologically elephants are dominant herbivores that often have a more profound effect on ecosystem dynamics than top predators such as the lion, leopard or tiger. "High population densities of elephants have a cascading effect leading to a reduction in biological diversity.

Thus in areas where the forest cover is low, and human population density is high, elephants often come into conflict with man.

It is a truism that at any but the lowest density, large wild animals and humans are fundamentally incompatible.

This incompatibility increases rapidly as both animal and human densities increase.

This is happening today in Sri Lanka," he said. Considering past statistics the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) has spent more than 50 percent of its working time and allocated budget to mitigate human-elephant conflict (HEC). In order to bring a sustainable solution to the Human-Elephant Conflict knowing the numbers (of elephants) is crucial.

As Prof. Santiapillai continued to explain, to succeed in elephant conservation, we need to convert the agricultural pest into an economic asset. The human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka is intense and leads in only one direction: the destruction and eventual elimination of elephants from areas of high conflict, unless people can be persuaded to share their land and their resources with the elephants. The DWC also needs to address the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the poor people who bear the brunt of elephant depredation almost on a daily basis. "The HEC is not simply a wildlife problem, it is also an agricultural problem, and hence it is not fair to blame the DWC every time an elephant is killed by irate farmers.

The two Departments need to work together to seek solutions," Prof. Santiapillai added. He also said that considering the high density of elephants in Sri Lanka compared to other countries of the region is a sign of great work of the DWC.

Sri Lanka has a viable elephant population. It sustains almost 10% of the global Asian elephant population, despite its small size and dense human population, said Prof. Santiapillai. "No other country in Asia offers such rich and diverse habitat for elephants. Elephants, given protection and access to food, water and cover, would increase. The Accelerated Mahaweli Development Programme too has created conditions that promote elephant population growth: year round availability of water and access to cultivated crops that are nutritionally far superior to the forest vegetation. The low country Dry Zone, with thousands of man-made irrigation reservoirs or tanks and its grasslands provide excellent habitat for elephants and raise the carrying capacity," he explained the present situation the Sri Lankan elephant population is facing. Thus the long-term survival prospects for the elephant in Sri Lanka are good provided we control or minimize the human-elephant conflict.

Conserving the magnificent Megaherbivore such as the elephant in Sri Lanka is inextricably linked to the welfare of the people with whom the animal shares the land. Elephant and other wildlife management practices must be carried out as though people matter. "We need to encourage the development of a symbiotic relationship between man and elephant.

Wildlife is a sustainable natural resource. Some argue that all wildlife must be simply protected and not exploited. Others, including me, believe that it is only by allowing people who live in and around areas frequented by wildlife to derive economic benefit from it that they can be led to appreciate the value of wildlife and thus become committed to conserving it," said Prof. Santiapillai explaining the options left for Sri Lanka to mitigate Human-elephant conflict.



 99 
 on: August 23, 2011, 07:06:49 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
An international team of researchers has completed the first major survey in Asia of a deadly fungus that has wiped out more than 200 species of amphibians worldwide. The massive survey could help scientists zero in on why the fungus has been unusually devastating in many parts of the globe -- and why Asian amphibians have so far been spared the same dramatic declines.

The disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd, is the culprit behind amphibian extinctions in Central, South and North America, Australia and Europe. The new Asian survey of the fungus, which was published Aug. 16 in the journal PLoS One, shows that Bd is prevalent at very low levels in the region.

Asia is home to a highly diverse set of amphibian species, and potentially could be vulnerable to Bd. But Vance Vredenburg, assistant professor of biology, said very little is known about the fungus and its impact on the health of amphibians in Asia.

"That's why we're excited about this first really big survey," said Vredenburg, who led the research team. "If you look at chytrid worldwide, Asia's been the black hole in our data."

From 2001 to 2009, Vredenburg and his colleagues surveyed more than 3,000 amphibians -- mostly frogs -- from 15 Asian countries, swabbing the toe webbing, thigh and abdomen of the animals to pick up any signs of Bd, which infects the skin of amphibians.

They found that the prevalence of Bd was very low throughout the region, appearing in only 2.35 percent of the frogs. The Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea were the only countries with any Bd infection.

The survey suggests that Bd is either emerging in Asia, or may have been in Asia at low levels for a long time or that some other factor is preventing Bd "from fully invading Asian amphibians," the researchers write.

Each site in the study was only surveyed once, Vredenburg explained, so it's difficult to determine whether Bd infections in the countries are newly expanding. It will be critical, he said, "to see how Bd prevalence is changing through time, because this is key to understanding the ultimate outcome of the disease."

If Bd has been in Asia for a long time, researchers would like to know why amphibians there have managed to co-exist with a fungus that has proved so destructive elsewhere. It is possible, for instance, that Asian amphibians might bear some sort of bacterial protection against Bd in their skins.

Other scientists are analyzing the genes of the Bd fungus collected globally, Vredenburg said, "to find out whether strains from different parts of the world also differ in their virulence."

Vredenburg said the possibility of another wave of extinctions highlights the need to follow the Asian survey with further research to answer all of these questions.

And if Asia is on the brink of a chytrid epidemic, Vredenburg and colleagues think it might start in the Philippines. "The prevalence and intensity of Bd infection is much higher here than anywhere else in Asia," he said. "Bd in the Philippines today looks similar to Bd in early outbreaks in California and South and Central America."

"This study is the first important step to understanding Bd in Asia," Vredenburg said. "It provides a solid foundation that future studies can build upon."



 100 
 on: August 23, 2011, 07:01:36 pm 
Started by indunil - Last post by indunil
Relocating species threatened by climate change is a radical and hotly debated strategy for maintaining biodiversity. In a paper published August 10 in the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from CSIRO, University of Queensland and United States Geological Survey present a pragmatic decision framework for determining when, if ever, to move species in the face of climate change.

"As our climate changes more rapidly than species can adapt or disperse, natural resource managers increasingly want to know what adaptation options are available to help them conserve biodiversity," said co-author, CSIRO researcher and research fellow at the University of Queensland Dr Eve McDonald-Madden.

Managed relocation, also known as assisted colonisation, of species involves moving plants or animals from an area that is, or will become, untenable because of climate change, to areas where there are more suitable climatic conditions but in which the plants or animals have not occurred previously.

"While the virtues of managed relocation of species are being debated by the scientific community, the reality is that it is already occurring.

"The decision-making framework we have developed shows that the best timing for moving species depends on many factors such as: the size of the population, the expected losses in the population through relocation, and the expected numbers that the new location could be expected to support.

"It would also rely on good predictions about the impact of climate shifts on a particular species and the suitability of areas to which they can move -- an often difficult issue in the case of rare species because we just don't have this sort of detailed information," Dr McDonald-Madden said.

CSIRO researcher Dr Tara Martin said monitoring and learning about how potentially climate change-affected plants and animals function in their 'native' ecosystems will play a crucial role in ensuring that managed relocation plans succeed.

"Active adaptive management is important when we are unsure of what the climatic changes are likely to be in the current habitat.

"Our framework provides managers with a rational basis for making timely decisions under uncertainty to ensure species persistence in the long-term" Dr Martin said.

"Without relocating species we are destined to lose some of our most important and iconic wildlife, but at the end of the day we also need viable ecosystems into which we can move species.

"Managed relocation is not a quick fix. It will be used in some specific circumstances for species that we really care about, but it will not be a saviour for all biodiversity in the face of climate change," Dr Martin said.




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