Plant translocations

Preventing species from extinction mostly involves habitat protection. However, some species may also benefit from translocation to new sites such as offshore islands where they can thrive in the absence of pest animals, weeds and development pressures.

Any transfer of a threatened species to a new site is called a plant translocation. It may sound easy to do but, in reality, a plant translocation has proved to be much harder to achieve due to several reasons.

For a start, the ecological requirements of all threatened plant species are not very well known. To achieve a successful translocation information is needed about the soils, the optimum climatic conditions, the disturbance regime and associated species for pollination and seed dispersal.

Secondly, threatened species by their very nature are rare and usually reduced in numbers of plants. That means the available source of propagules is limited which in turn potentially affects the survivorship of planted populations.

Finally the mechanics of a translocation are not always known for each species. Is it better to plant seedlings or scatter seed. Should the plants be put in the ground with associated species and with fertiliser? Much research is needed before successful translocations can be guaranteed.  

For more information about plant translocation - see also*:

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This page last updated on 26 Sep 2012