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Ways to help wildlife adapt to a warmer world

As the world gets warmer, strategies for helping wildlife adapt.

By Staff Writer of the Christian Science Monitor / November 17, 2009

The pine siskin of the northwestern US is threatened by the fragmentation of pine forest.

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At least 18 strategies for adaptive wildlife management were put forward in a 2008 study by the Heinz Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment.

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Among them:

–  Add more protected areas.

–  Conserve multiple examples of each ecosystem type.

–  Manage and restore existing protected areas for maximum resilience.

–  Design new natural areas and restoration sites to maximize resilience. For example, restore marsh communities behind gently sloped and undeveloped ocean shorelines (those most likely to be affected by sea-level rise) rather than fortify existing beaches. Preparing for the change in this way will mitigate the effects when they arrive.

–  Increase landscape “connectivity” and permeability so animals can migrate more freely. Remove dams and fish ladders in rivers, for instance.

–  Protect wildlife corridors and “stepping stone” habitat islands to serve as stopovers for migratory waterfowl and for land-based species as they seek cooler climates.

–  Reduce nonclimate stressors such as invasive species, chemical contaminants, and catastrophic wildfires.

Editor’s note: See also Mark Clayton's main article, Saving wildlife in a warmer world.

For more articles about the environment, check out the Monitor’s main environment page. Also, visit our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed.