Scientist: Moving species could save them

March 17, 2011 at 9:26 PM
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YORK, England, March 17 (UPI) -- A radical program of "assisted colonization" could save species endangered by climate change, a U.K. researcher says, proposing Britain as one destination.

Chris Thomas, a professor of conservation biology at the University of York, says the strategy is applicable across the world. 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, a university release said Thursday.

Each species should be considered carefully to judge the balance between the potential benefits of helping to save a species from extinction and any impact on existing species within the United Kingdom, he said.

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," Thomas said.

Current guidelines on releases into the wild for conservation call for the release of a species only into an area where it used to occur, a re-introduction rather than introduction.

A more radical policy is required if humanity wishes to minimize the number of species that become extinct, Thomas 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," he said. "The later we leave it, the harder and more expensive translocations will become."

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