Chaperoned managed relocation
As climate change poses an ever increasing threat to the survival of many plant species, “assisted migration,” in which species would be intentionally transferred outside their historical ranges into locations they could have reached were climate change occurring at a slower pace has been proposed as a potential solution.
Unfortunately, assisted migration also poses many risks, and this has made it the center of a vociferous debate over ethics and ecological pragmatism. Namely, moving species outside their historical ranges risks: a) introducing species that could become invasive; b) transferring pests and diseases that may harm other species; and c) hybridization with closely related, rare species and dilution of their gene pool.
Researchers from the Missouri Botanical Garden have therefore proposed a system of Chaperoned Managed Relocation as a plan to facilitate the movement of plants in response to climate change without the risks associated with assisted migration.
A program of chaperoned migration would entail:
- moving species outside their historic distributions
- growing species in regularly-managed ex situ settings like those provided by botanical gardens
- moving species within their potential dispersal envelopes and evolutionary/ecological context
- curating species to be managed as separate wild-collected specimens
- screening species on a regular basis for invasiveness, pests, diseases, and hybridization
- ensuring species’ survival as climate changes
Read more about this proposal in a draft White Paper prepared by Missouri Botanical Garden