Rewilding - issues associated with restoring faunal communities
It is becoming increasingly clear that simply setting aside land as conservation reserves is insufficient to maintain biodiversity. Human influences on natural environments are pervasive and active management and restoration is necessary to prevent further extinctions. One idea that is increasingly discussed is the notion of “rewilding”, reintroducing species into areas from which they disappeared many years ago to restore functional ecosystems.
Top predators are often considered as candidates for rewilding. Evidence from a variety of ecosystems shows that top (apex) predators can play a key role in maintaining biodiversity. Because apex predators are always relatively rare and because they often are perceived to be direct threats to people and their livestock, they are often amongst the first species to disappear from human-influenced environments. Apex predators also arouse strong emotional reactions – both positive and negative – from people, so any proposal to reintroduce them is inevitably controversial. Even more controversial are proposals to introduce species that may never have existed in a particular region, because they perform similar ecological functions to now extinct relatives that did occupy those regions. For example, there are proposals from serious ecologists in Australia to introduce Komodo dragons to replace giant lizards that went extinct tens of thousands of years ago.
I will discuss some of the scientific, philosophical, sociological and political issues raised by rewilding. I will particularly use dingoes and Tasmanian devils as case studies from Australia, but also consider North American and European examples.
Orateur(s) : Professor Hamish McCallum, Griffith School of Environment, Australia
Public : Tous
Date : 23 Novembre 2015
Lieu : Campus Jussieu
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