Plants have adapted to their region, specifically to the environmental or climatic conditions that allow them to thrive and reproduce. Obvious examples are desert saguaro cactus, and at the other extreme consider the spruce/fir forests of the northern taiga. These plants have evolved to thrive in their specific climatic zones. Climate change is already changing environmental conditions across the planet and more severe changes will increase in the near future.
“The rapid pace of climate change may exceed the ability of many species to adapt in place or migrate to suitable habitats, and this fundamental mismatch raises the possibility of extinction or local extirpation. Assisted migration, human-assisted movement of species in response to climate change, is one management option that is available to address this challenge.”1
Included under the category of “assisted migration” are three types:
“Assisted population migration (Assisted gene flow): The human-assisted movement of individual plants or seeds within the species established range to preserve the breadth of genotypes for adaptation to climate change. This builds resilience within a population by augmenting populations within the current range.
Assisted range expansion: The human-assisted movement of species to areas just outside their established range in response to climate change, facilitating or mimicking natural range expansion. Seed zone maps are often used to identify region of provenance.
Assisted long-distance migration: The human-assisted movement of species to areas far outside their established range (beyond areas accessible via natural dispersal) in response to climate change.”2
- Handler, S.; Pike, C.; St. Clair, B.; 2018. Assisted Migration. USDA Forest Service Climate Change Resource Center. Page accessed 15 November 2021.
- Guidelines for Implementing Assisted Migration of Plants on Agency Lands, Accepted by VT Agency of Natural Resources Lands Team, November 2, 2017, Drafted by: Assisted Migration Work Group, Nancy Patch, Lisa Thornton and Sandy Wilmot, VT Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, Robert Popp and Robert Zaino, VT Fish & Wildlife Department. PDF accessed 15 November 2021.