Reframing the Debate over Assisted Colonization

Lawler, J.J. and J.D. Olden

Publication Date:

Assisted colonization – also known as managed relocation or assisted migration – is one way of facilitating range shifts for species that are restricted in their ability to move in response to climate or other environmental changes. Over the past decade, a healthy debate has evolved in the scientific community over the costs and benefits of assisted colonization as a climate- adaptation strategy. This discussion has focused largely on the specific risks and benefits of intentionally moving species, and has led to the development of multiple frameworks and numerous recommendations for weighing and evaluating these factors. Here, we argue that this debate is, in part, misguided, and that a more productive discussion would result if the issue were reframed in light of (1) the goals of assisted colonization, (2) the realities of projected climate impacts, and (3) the use of complementary adaptation strategies, such as enhancing landscape connectivity.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment