Species on the move

Species are on the move and, in the immortal words of David Bowie, expect “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Turn and face the strange”

February’s Species on the Move international conference was a landmark event generating a global synthesis of how natural systems are responding to climate change, documenting impacts, making predictions, and assessing potential adaptation and responses in our systems.

NACC’s Biodiversity Program Coordinator Dr Jessica Stingemore was there, among more than 270 scientists and practitioners from 21 countries, who gathered in Hobart for the four-day conference about how climate change is forcing species to move, including humans.

species on the move

Conference co-convenor Dr Gretta Precl stated “by coming together to discuss the growing body of knowledge about species’ impacts and emerging management tools we can see nature is speaking and plants and animals all over the world are already on the move in response to climatic changes”.

The conference kicked-off with a field trip to look at the Tasmanian Midlands Restoration Program. Working together with farmers and universities, Greening Australia aims to restore and rebuild native vegetation connections across the Northern Midlands agricultural landscape.  It was inspiring to hear local farmers recognise that “they are a piece of the puzzle and need to find the balance between competing needs”.

Conference keynotes and presentations covered a wide range of topics from cultural and social aspects of climate change; decision-making for assisted colonisation; management strategies; governance, legal and ethical issues for managing shifting species; impacts of climate change on ecological communities; and biological response at a species level.

Some of the many highlights from the presentations included:

  • A lot of great research is happening across Australia and the globe, and that science has an important role to play in helping people communicate their stories and comprehend change.
  • The big picture of conservation: it is not just climate change that we need to consider, there is widespread change in our societies, economies and the environment.
  • Hearing about the value of “novel ecosystems” and how they will interact with pre-existing systems, was a very thought-provoking idea, and left some pondering that maybe species on the move might become future invasive species.
  • Things to consider when making decisions about assisted migration include: our values; uncovering more information about the economic and social costs; and evaluating the different kinds of success, following trails.

To top off a great conference, delegates were ferried to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) for a wonderful night of art, food and laughter: followed by much enthusiastic dancing.

NACC’s take home message from the conference: “Making no decision is still a decision; so be brave, be bold and have a crack.”

For more highlights from this conference check-out #SpeciesOnTheMove on Twitter.


1 comment

Sounds like a great conference. Yes, it’s occurred to me that ‘species on the move’ due to changing climatic conditions, could well be the precursor to species in places that they are perceived to not be desired. Are these plant species and animal species also seeking asylum?

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