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Tuesday, April 10 • 10:45am - 11:00am
CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION PLANNING: Systematically prioritizing landscape conservation on the basis of climatic vulnerabilities

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AUTHORS: Jeffrey Haight* and Edd Hammill - Utah State University

ABSTRACT: Landscape conservation in the face of climate change requires quantification of spatial differences in climate change exposure and the distribution of ecological systems. When conserving elements of a landscape, it is often prudent to prioritize areas of relatively low vulnerability to climate – i.e. climate refugia. Quantifying an area’s exposure to changing climatic conditions is key to assessing its relative vulnerability. This can be done through the calculation of climate velocity, the rate at which organisms must travel in order to persist within their climate envelopes given some projected shift in climatic parameters. While climate velocity and similar proxy measures of climate vulnerability alone can aid in the identification of climate refugia, relatively little has been done to incorporate climate velocities into the broader conservation frameworks that address management goals (e.g. species protection) and factors affecting the likelihood of achieving those goals. By enabling one to integrate a wide variety of social-ecological variables, systematic landscape planning strategies can improve the efficiency of the process of selecting climate refugia for management action. We evaluated climate exposure within the Southern Rockies region by independently calculating climate velocities based on select bioclimatic variables. We then used the software program Marxan to prioritize areas of minimal climate exposure while additionally accounting for the presence of species of interest, existing protected areas, and environmental risks. Our model framework successfully identified priority climate refugia that were within the spatial extents of the region’s threatened wildlife species. Accounting for risks to conservation success served to further identify the highest priority areas. Our results highlight the need for more thorough assessment of factors that contribute to ecological vulnerabilities under climate change. We hope that the results and framework we outline here will aid managers in efficiently allocating conservation resources with the goal of promoting climate change resilience.

Tuesday April 10, 2018 10:45am - 11:00am CDT
LaSalle 5 (7th Floor)