Whose backyard? Some precautions in choosing recipient sites for assisted colonisation of Australian plants and animals


  • Stephen Harris,

  • Sophie Arnall,

  • Margaret Byrne,

  • David Coates,

  • Matt Hayward,

  • Tara Martin,

  • Nicola Mitchell,

  • Stephen Garnett

  • This paper is a product of a workshop on assisted colonisation organised by the Terrestrial Biodiversity node of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (http://www.nccarf.edu.au/) in Australia.


In cases where assisted colonisation is the appropriate conservation tool, the selection of recipient sites is a major challenge. Here, we propose a framework for site selection that can be applied to the Australian biota, where planning for assisted colonisation is in its infancy. Characteristics that will be important drivers in the decision-making process include the size of a recipient site, the potential to augment corridors and respond to niche gaps, the maximisation of climatic buffering, bioregional similarity, tenure security, and the minimisation of opportunities for hybridisation and invasiveness. Sites we suggest be precluded from assisted colonisation include sites of high species endemism, IUCN category 1 reference reserves and fully-functioning threatened ecological communities.