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Relation between extinction and assisted colonization of plants in the arctic-alpine and boreal regions.

Authors
  • Pykälä, Juha1
  • 1 Natural Environment Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, P.O. Box 140, FI-00251, Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Conservation Biology
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2017
Volume
31
Issue
3
Pages
524–530
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12847
PMID: 27677753
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Assisted colonization of vascular plants is considered by many ecologists an important tool to preserve biodiversity threatened by climate change. I argue that assisted colonization may have negative consequences in arctic-alpine and boreal regions. The observed slow movement of plants toward the north has been an argument for assisted colonization. However, these range shifts may be slow because for many plants microclimatic warming (ignored by advocates of assisted colonization) has been smaller than macroclimatic warming. Arctic-alpine and boreal plants may have limited possibilities to disperse farther north or to higher elevations. I suggest that arctic-alpine species are more likely to be driven to extinction because of competitive exclusion by southern species than by increasing temperatures. If so, the future existence of arctic-alpine and boreal flora may depend on delaying or preventing the migration of plants toward the north to allow northern species to evolve to survive in a warmer climate. In the arctic-alpine region, preventing the dispersal of trees and shrubs may be the most important method to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. The purported conservation benefits of assisted colonization should not be used to promote the migration of invasive species by forestry.

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