Assisted Colonisation of the Western Swamp Tortoise
Our aim is to develop innovative methods that will help identify habitats where critically endangered species will be able to survive in the wild under a changing climate.
Our project, funded by the Australian Research Council, is focusing on the world's rarest freshwater tortoise, Western Swamp Tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina), who's natural wetland habitat is drying due to climate change.
Assisted colonisation, (or assisted migration or managed relocation), is the process of relocating species or populations that would otherwise decline due to a threatening process in their original habitat.
Assisted migration is being considered by the scientific community as a potential mechanism for species adapting to climate change. Significantly, the expectation is that in many cases species would be relocated to areas that are outside their historical range.
The need for assisted colonisation
Many species will not have the capacity to change their distribution if their habitat becomes unsuitable, either because they are naturally poor dispersers, or because habitat corridors have been lost due to modification of landscapes by humans.
Assisted colonisation offers the possibility that threatened species could survive in the wild in the long term. However, this strategy is controversial because species introduced to new environments have often become invasive.http://www.animals.uwa.edu.au/research/wildlife/assisted-colonisation
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