Protecting Habitats that Move

As climate change affects the habitats and migratory patterns of protected species, many are calling for protected areas to shift along with the animals they're intended to safeguard.

"Changing weather patterns have shifted upwelling currents, the productive areas that support large anchovy schools, northward. On average, Punta Tombo penguins must now swim 25 miles farther for a meal – 50 miles total – compared with a decade ago. Some penguins have simply established new colonies closer to their food source, welcome evidence of their ability to adapt."

"But the move also worries Boersma: At Punta Tombo, the penguins are protected. In their new colonies farther north, on private land, they're not."

"The aquatic birds' exodus from a safe haven highlights a quandary presented by a changing world: How do people, with their landlubber bias, protect and manage marine ecosystems that, by definition, go with the flow?"

"So far, few – and maybe none – of the more than 4,500 marine protected areas (MPAs) established worldwide have been explicitly designed to cope with climate change and the issues exemplified by the Magellanic penguins, say experts. Getting protected areas drawn on a map is hard enough, they note. Establishing one that moves or adjusts with changing conditions – a roving MPA – will be harder still."

Full Story: Parks that can move when the animals do

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