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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology

Pedersen, Jennine [1], Macdonald, Ellen [1], Nielsen, Scott [1].

Assisted Migration to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change for Rare and Range-Restricted Plants.

As climate change progresses, climatically suitable habitats (niches) will shift to new locations, necessitating either migration of species and movement of their ranges or in situ adaptation. Given the rates of climate change predicted, many plant species will be unable to migrate at the pace necessary to maintain their current climate niche. Plant species with limited dispersal abilities, high habitat-specificity and narrow climatic niches will face higher risks of extirpation or even extinction. To prevent this future loss of biodiversity, assisted migration has been suggested as a proactive conservation tool. This tool involves expanding an endangered species’ range northward to directly combat the effects of climate change on species survival. The effectiveness of this strategy is being assessed using the northern blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis); a rare and range restricted plant in Alberta found in the aspen parkland natural sub-region on sand dunes. Mature plants and seeds of this species were translocated to three sites at each of four geographic locations along a north-south gradient across Alberta. These translocation sites were set up in locations within the current species’ range to act as controls and in suitable sandy areas south and north of the current range. In addition, the influence of two soil types were tested for transplanted Liatris ligulistylis plants at each site comparing soil from the source site to that at the translocation site. The use of source soil led to significant increases in the average number of buds on Liatris ligulistylis. Also, significantly higher L. ligulistylis seed establishment levels occurred at the northern sites compared to the current range and southern sites. These results indicate that native soil may improve assisted migration success, and that Liatris ligulistylis has climate change vulnerabilities which require proactive action as this species is possibly not presently even in climatic equilibrium with its current range. Assisted migrations could be a potential conservation tool to prevent future extinctions; however, the techniques used should be on a species by species basis.

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1 - University of Alberta, Renewable Resources, 751 General Services, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H1, Canada

assisted migration
climate change
Liatris ligulistylis
range shift
climatic niche.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Session: 63
Location: Salon 19/20/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Time: 11:30 AM
Number: 63013
Abstract ID:358
Candidate for Awards:None

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