Using trait-based assessments to develop and implement on-the-ground climate adaptation projects for species

Dr Nikhil Advani1

1World Wildlife Fund, Washington, United States

World Wildlife Fund is working with partners around the world to better understand how a changing climate is impacting wildlife and developing and implementing appropriate solutions. Changes in climate and extreme weather events have already begun to affect biodiversity across the globe. In addition to direct impacts on wildlife, climate change exacerbates other threats like habitat destruction, poaching, and overexploitation. Conservationists need to understand these problems and develop solutions to protect wildlife in a rapidly changing environment.

This talk will explore how we are assessing WWF priority species to determine traits that make them resilient or vulnerable to changes in climate. For each species, we assess their sensitivity and exposure to change, their capacity to adapt, and any other relevant threats. The findings of these assessments are then used to develop climate-adaptive management recommendations.

The talk will also explore projects we are piloting in the field, based on our research findings. This will include projects from our recently launched Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund.


Dr. Nikhil Advani leads WWF’s work on climate, communities and wildlife. This includes researching how wildlife and rural communities are being affected by changes in weather and climate, and developing and implementing solutions to help them adapt. Nikhil’s recent projects include an initiative to crowdsource this data (WWF Climate Crowd), a Wildlife and Climate assessment series, creation of a Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, and he serves as an activity lead on the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group.

Nikhil was born and brought up in Kenya, and went on to pursue his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin. His thesis focused on gaining a better mechanistic understanding of species response to climate change, using the Glanville Fritillary butterfly as a model species. He then worked for the Nature Conservancy in Texas, prior to joining WWF in 2013.

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

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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