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Social preferences for adaptation measures to conserve Australian birds threatened by climate change

  • Stephen T. Garnett (a1), Kerstin K. Zander (a2), Shannon Hagerman (a3), Terre A. Satterfield (a4) and Jürgen Meyerhoff (a5)...

Debate about climate change adaptation for biodiversity, and the ethics and consequences of assisted colonization in particular, has polarized professional opinion but the views of the wider community are unknown. We tested four hypotheses about the acceptability of adaptation strategies among a sample of the Australian general public using a combination of direct questions and a choice experiment. We found that (1) among the 80% who wanted extinction avoided, increased in situ management of wild populations was preferred to captive breeding or assisted colonization, (2) preferences for adaptation strategies were not explained by gender, income, education or knowledge about birds, (3) genetically distinctive taxa were not actively preferred, (4) > 60% of respondents were content for conservation managers to make decisions about strategies rather than local communities or the general public. The results provide Australian policy makers with a mandate to bolster efforts to retain existing populations but suggest that assisted colonization and captive breeding could be accepted if essential.

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