Incorporating climate change into spatial conservation plans

Joshua Lawler (1), John Withey (2), Scott Rinnan (3), Jenny McGuire (4), Julia Michalak (5),David Roberts (6)

1  School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA,,  @jjjlawler

2  Department of  Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, USA,

3  School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA,

4  School of Biology, Georgia  Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA,

5  School of  Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of  Washington, Seattle, USA,

6   Department of Biometry and Environmental Systems Analysis, Albert-­‐Ludwigs-­‐Universität, Freiburg, Germany,,  @droxburgh

It is now well recognized that conservation planning that does not account for the costs of conservation, threats to conservation targets, and currently protected lands can be at  best inefficient,   and at worst, ineffective. It is also clear that spatial planning based on the current distribution of  biota may fail to protect biodiversity in the face of relatively rapid climate change. Here, we explore the effect of incorporating potential climate  impacts into a return-­‐on-­‐investment analysis for conserving biota in the coterminous United States. We perform two spatial prioritizations—both   accounting for land costs and the threat of land conversion, but only one that accounts for climate change. We used three different  types of information to address climate change. First, we used maps of potential climatic refugia based on projected locations of future analogous climates within a given  dispersal  distance. Second, we integrated  areas of  connectivity sited to address   climate change. Finally, we used projected future potential distributions of all of the plant, bird, mammal, amphibian,  and reptile species included in the study.  Our initial results indicate that   addressing climate change will result in a marked shift in the distribution of conservation priorities.


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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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