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Perceived barriers to the use of assisted colonization for climate sensitive species in the Hawaiian Islands

June 23, 2021

Conservation actions to safeguard climate change vulnerable species may not be utilized due to a variety of perceived barriers. Assisted colonization, the intentional movement and release of an organism outside its historical range, is one tool available for species predicted to lose habitat under future climate change scenarios, particularly for single island or single mountain range endemic species. Despite the existence of policies that allow for this action, to date, assisted colonization has rarely been utilized for species of conservation concern in the Hawaiian Islands. Given the potential for climate driven biodiversity loss, the Hawaiian Islands are a prime location for the consideration of adaptation strategies. We used first-person interviews with conservation decision makers, managers, and scientists who work with endangered species in the Hawaiian Islands to identify perceived barriers to the use of assisted colonization. We found that assisted colonization was often not considered or utilized due to a lack of expertize with translocations; ecological risk and uncertainty, economic constraints, concerns regarding policies and permitting, concerns with public perception, and institutional resistance. Therefore, conservation planners may benefit from decision tools that integrate risk and uncertainty into decision models, and compare potential outcomes among conservation actions under consideration, including assisted colonization. Within a decision framework that addresses concerns, all conservation actions for climate sensitive species, including assisted colonization, may be considered in a timely manner.

Publication Year 2021
Title Perceived barriers to the use of assisted colonization for climate sensitive species in the Hawaiian Islands
DOI 10.1007/s00267-021-01491-w
Authors Shannon Rivera, Lucas Fortini, Sheldon M. Plentovich, Melissa Price
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Management
Index ID 70223718
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center