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  • Writer's picturerichelletanner

Unfortunately #managedrelocation doesn't apply to humans

The first thing my roommate jokingly asked when I got home from UC Davis yesterday was, "So, how do I manage my relocation out of the US?". She was referencing the Managed Relocation conference I had just returned from, where we discussed what to do as climate change overtakes natural communities' ability to adapt. This topic is fairly contentious in the restoration ecology community - do we try to preserve ecosystems as we know them, or do we try to create ecosystems resilient to climate change? These questions have an underlying tone - do we want to "play god" in the ecosystems that we've already destroyed beyond repair?

Managed relocation was first defined in official government literature only last week by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife as the relocation of a species outside of its current and historic range. It refers to strategies being considered by scientists in the wake of rapid climate change such as transplanting new populations to bolster existing genetic diversity or replacing dying species in an ecosystem with a viable alternative from another ecosystem. The symposium at UC Davis brought together scientists that argued for the method as a way to maintain biodiversity in local communities and others that argued that this would reduce global biodiversity by homogenizing all of Earth's ecosystems with a few super species. We heard from scientists, lawyers, economists, and managers and the consensus consensus. Managed relocation is an exciting new field that should play a big role in climate change research on all levels of biological organization, but there needs to be involvement on the law and policy level if results are to be used effectively. Without proper management and documentation requirements, scientists invested in this field may have to watch as their worst predictions come true.

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