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A climate-change adaptation framework to reduce continental-scale vulnerability across conservation reserves

TitleA climate-change adaptation framework to reduce continental-scale vulnerability across conservation reserves
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMagness, DR, Morton, JM, Huettmann, F, Chapin III, SF, McGuire, DA
JournalEcosphere
Volume2
Abstract

Rapid climate change, in conjunction with other anthropogenic drivers, has the potential tocause mass species extinction. To minimize this risk, conservation reserves need to be coordinated atmultiple spatial scales because the climate envelopes of many species may shift rapidly across largegeographic areas. In addition, novel species assemblages and ecological reorganization make futureconditions uncertain. We used a GIS analysis to assess the vulnerability of 501 reserve units in the NationalWildlife Refuge System as a basis for a nationally coordinated response to climate change adaptation. Weused measures of climate change exposure (historic rate of temperature change), sensitivity (biome edgeand critical habitat for threatened and endangered species), and adaptive capacity (elevation range,latitude range, watershed road density, and watershed protection) to evaluate refuge vulnerability. Thevulnerability of individual refuges varied spatially within and among biomes. We suggest that the spatialvariability in vulnerability be used to define suites of management approaches that capitalize on localconditions to facilitate adaptation and spread risk across the reserve network. We conceptually define fourdivergent management strategies to facilitate adaption: refugia, ecosystem maintenance, ‘‘natural’’adaptation, and facilitated transitions. Furthermore, we recognize that adaptation approaches can usehistoric (i.e., retrospective) and future (prospective) condition as temporal reference points to definemanagement goals.

DOI10.1890/ES11-00200.1
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