Friday, August 30, 2013

Hot: assisting species in coping with climate change and other recovery stories

Not all stories about climate change are alarms.  Some are about actually doing something.  Virginia Gewin of Nature reports on one such proposal in Plan seeks 'chaperones' for threatened species.
Botanical gardens proposed as stopping-off points for plant species as climate warms.

The notion of intentionally relocating plant species when climate change threatens their ability to survive in their natural habitats is steeped in controversy.

Critics claim that such ‘assisted migration’ could transform struggling species into destructive invaders, or inadvertently transmit disease, or that hybridization between species could occur that would lower the planet's overall genetic diversity. But without some form of assistance, many plants will face certain extinction as the planet warms.

With that in mind, researchers are proposing a heavily supervised form of assisted migration — using a network of more than 3,100 botanical gardens to 'chaperone' plant relocations.
The inability of organisms, particularly plants, to disperse or migrate fast enough to cope with climate change, especially as change is happening at a record pace.

Use of conservation centers and controlled releases for the recovery of threatened and endangered species is not new.  In fact, its being used now in Australia, as Oliver Milman of The Guardian describes in Tasmanian devils to be released back on to mainland.
Devils, Leadbeater's possums and helmeted honeyeaters will gradually be released into Victorian 'halfway house' to test survival fitness

Zoos Victoria is to create a “halfway house” for endangered species in a new conservation strategy in which there will be a controlled release of Tasmanian devils on mainland Australia.

A former Aboriginal reserve called Coranderrk will be used to release four of the devils, as well as 40 each of the Leadbeater’s possum and helmeted honeyeater. All of the species are endangered, with just 60 helmeted honeyeaters remaining.

The 140-hectare site, which adjoins the Healesville Sanctuary, will be used to test the “survival fitness” of captive species, ahead of potential release to new sites.
There are more high-tech ways to get a species to recover.  In fact, there are proposals to bring back extinct animals with biotechnology.  Red Orbit updates this story with Dolly The Sheep Creator Discusses Woolly Mammoth Clone.
Ian Wilmut, creator of Dolly the sheep, says that woolly mammoth stem cells may be the way to go in order to bring the ancient behemoths back to life.

Wilmut, Emeritus Professor at the MRC Center for Regenerative Medicine at University of Edinburgh, wrote in The Conversation about his thoughts on how we could bring woolly mammoths back from extinction. The professor is best known for cloning Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell.

The scientist wrote that the same methods used to create Dolly would not work for recreating a mammoth. However, he said there are other ways in which it would be “biologically interesting to work with viable mammoth cells if they can be found.”
Finally, what's a story about humans helping endangered species recover without pandas?

LiveScience: It's a Cub! Giant Panda Mei Xiang Gives Birth at National Zoo
Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
August 23, 2013 07:28pm ET
The giant panda Mei Xiang has become a proud mama, again, giving birth to a cub today (Aug. 23) at 5:23 p.m. ET at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Using the panda cams, zoo workers have been monitoring Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) every day, all day, since Aug. 7. And then at 3:36 p.m. ET today her water broke and the giant panda began having contractions

"I'm glued to the new panda cams and thrilled to hear the squeals, which appear healthy, of our newborn cub," said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo. "Our expansive panda team has worked tirelessly analyzing hormones and behavior since March, and as a result of their expertise and our collaboration with scientists from around the world we are celebrating this birth."
This story wouldn't be complete without either a picture or video, so here's the clip from ABC News.

Giant Panda Cub's Birth Celebrated at National Zoo

A cute baby panda was born at the national zoo in Washington DC.
Stay tuned for more climate change stories to close out the month.  Meanwhile, keep cool.

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