Botanists debate the benefits of assisted migration
11 November 2009
A Hunt for Seeds to Save Species, Perhaps by Helping Them Move
By ANNE RAVER
Published: November 9, 2009
NEW YORK TIMES
CHICAGO -- Pitcher's thistle, whose fuzzy leaves and creamy pink puffs once thrived in the sand dunes along several of the Great Lakes, was driven by development, drought and weevils into virtual extinction from the shores of Lake Michigan decades ago.
In the article, Dr. Kayri Havens and Dr. Pati Vitt discuss why the Chicago Botanic Garden is seeking permits to test the concept of assisted migration with this federally threatened thistle (Cirsium pitcherii) by pushing it into new, colder territory along the shores of Lake Ontario. “It may be the best test case for moving an individual species outside its range,” Dr. Vitt said.
This work is connected to the Seeds of Success program, an effort to seed bank multiple populations of 14,000 plant species in the United States for future restoration and research, particularly in a era of rapidly changing climates. The Seeds of Success project is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and carried out in partnership with botanic gardens and other partners across the country.
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