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Keywords:

  • assisted migration;
  • ecosystem engineers;
  • forest tree;
  • genetic diversity;
  • managed translocation;
  • restoration actions

Assisted colonization (AC), or the intentional translocation of populations to compensate for risks related to climate change, is receiving increasing attention. It has been recently suggested by Kreyling et al. (2011) that rather than relocating endangered species, a focus should be placed on local adaptations of foundation or keystone species, and that these local ecotypes should be moved within their own range. Hence, this type of relocation could be applied with minimal risk in many restoration efforts. We think that caution is needed when considering the translocation of these foundation species, even within their range. Many recent studies have shown that foundation species can influence community structure and ecosystem processes through heritable traits, which suggests a genetic basis for ecosystem services. Thus, the translocation of different genotypes of foundation species might lead to unexpected results of colonization and might not be as “predictable” as Kreyling et al. have argued. Here, in our response, we stress how AC of foundation species can have important evolutionary consequences that might be impossible to reverse. We propose, whenever possible, (1) to favor population mixes of the foundation species to minimize the potential negative effects of specific genotypes; and (2) to collect from adjacent populations along ecological clines of the foundation species to mimic natural processes of migration under climate change.