The role of decision science in assisted colonisation

Hugh P. Possingham (1), Eve McDonald-Madden (2), Alienor Chauvenet (3), Nicola Mitchell (4)

1 ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, h.possingham@uq.edu.au, @HugePossum

2 ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, e.mcdonaldmadden@uq.edu.au.

3 School of Biological Sciences and Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, a.chauvenet@uq.edu.au, @AChauvenet.

4 School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, 6009, nicola.mitchell@uwa.edu.au

Assisted colonisation (also known as assisted migration and managed relocation) has the potential to be an incredibly useful, but contentious, management strategy to combat climate change. Defined as the “intentional movement and release of an organism outside its indigenous range to avoid extinction of populations of the focal species” (IUCN/SSC 2013), it is part of the new conservation introduction toolkit. The IUCN guidelines for reintroductions and other conservation translocations describe issues for assessing the feasibility, planning and implementation of assisted colonisation. These issues are to be tackled using clear, transparent, and explicit decision-making frameworks. We will present an overview of the field of decision-making, and show how relevant it is to assisted colonisation under climate change. The structured decision-making approach highlights the need for us to think more about our values, uncover more information about the economic and social costs of different outcomes from an assisted colonisation (e.g. extinction, species becoming pests, novel ecosystems), and evaluate the different kinds of success following assisted colonisation trials.

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