Building taxon substitution guidelines on a biological control foundation

Clare E. Aslan, Austin Aslan, Don Croll, Bernie Tershy, Erika Zavaleta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


When a species becomes extinct, its ecological functions are lost as well. Taxon substitution is a controversial approach to restoring such functions via introduction of non-native species known to serve similar functions elsewhere. Due to the possibility of nontarget effects from such introductions, taxon substitution has been proposed and implemented in only a few systems, but these attempts have successfully restored functions. As a conservation tool, taxon substitution bears similarity to biological control, wherein species are also introduced for their ecological function with consideration of potential nontarget effects. To improve both the safety and efficacy of taxon substitution, regulatory bodies that currently issue guidelines for biological control can do the same for taxon substitution. Indeed, many biological control guidelines would apply well to taxon substitution. We examine the standard practices followed by biological control programs and propose corresponding taxon substitution guidelines. Integration of taxon substitution into the existing national and international environmental management conversation will improve the tool and has the potential to enhance conservation efforts across a wide diversity of systems if appropriate and stringent precautions are taken.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Controlled release
  • Ecological analogue
  • Ecosystem function
  • Regulatory framework
  • Species introduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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