Assisted colonization as a climate change adaptation tool



Assisted colonization is a form of conservation translocation which introduces species at risk from extinction to new habitats, beyond their current range, in anticipation of more suitable conditions. Identifying which species, communities and ecosystems may benefit most from assisted colonization in coming decades is a key goal for conservation. Climate change is expected to lead to the loss or movement of suitable habitat for a range of species and anticipating which can be effectively conserved through assisted colonization is critical. Here, we identify a series of scenarios that may predispose terrestrial species to the need for assisted colonization in order to reduce extinction risk resulting from anthropogenic climate change and assemble a list of traits commonly associated with at-risk species. These traits may help to provide broad-scale guidance on how to select species to target for assisted colonization as a conservation management response to climate change. We also identify six key themes associated with successful conservation translocations including recipient site selection and preparation, a clear understanding of species biology and ecology, and taking lessons from invasive species research.