Can the woolly mammoth be brought back from the dead? Scientists say it's only a matter of time.
In fact this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature issued its first official set of guidelines on resurrecting extinct species. What's more, university research labs and non-governmental agencies have projects in motion to bring back extinct species. But is all of this a good idea?
A new paper by UC Santa Barbara researchers explores de-extinction -- the process of resurrecting an extinct species -- as a potential win for conservation and suggests how to make it so.
In an analysis in the journal Functional Ecology, UCSB ecologist Douglas McCauley and colleagues recommend several ways in which the science of de-extinction would have to evolve in order to make it maximally benefit ecological communities and ecosystems.
"The idea of de-extinction raises a fundamental and philosophical question: Are we doing it to create a zoo or recreate nature?" said co-author Benjamin Halpern, director of UCSB's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. "Both are reasonable answers, but restoring species to a natural state will be a much, much harder endeavor. We offer guidelines for how to make ecological de-extinction more successful and how to avoid creating 'eco-zombies.' "