The concept of climate refugia has a long history in the field of paleontology, where areas of relatively stable climate have been seen as safe havens for species during past episodes of climate change. Recently, this concept has been updated to focus on its application to managing species and ecosystems in the face of anthropogenic climate change.
For refugia identification to be more realistic and relevant, many other components of climate change ecology must also be considered, including hydrologic changes, disturbances (e.g., fire, drought, pests/pathogens), population demographics and genetics, interspecies interactions, dispersal/migration patterns, and adaptive responses to changing environmental conditions. In this session, speakers will present the cutting edge in our ability to detect, understand, and manage climate change refugia.
Presenters will focus on novel statistical, climatological, and geographic tools, including new methods for modeling habitat suitability and vulnerability to climate change, use of remote sensing data to map areas resistant to disturbance, and the integration of biophysical and ecological data. In addition, they will explore the application of the refugia concept to the management and conservation of key species in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. As a whole, the session will provide information on a suite of emerging techniques and foster an advanced conversation about the role of climate change refugia in adapting our management of ecosystems as a response to changing environmental conditions.
There's so much great research being done in the spruce-fir forests of the northeastern U.S., an ecosystem that is contributes disproportionately to the diversity of the region (think moose, snowshoe hare, martens, blackpoll warblers...). Recognizing the whole is stronger than its parts, folks focused on birds, mammals, trees, etc., have come together regularly over the last few years to share updates and build on each other's research.
From this starting point, we are considering how this research can inform management and conservation. For example, we met with managers from New Hampshire and Vermont state agencies, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and private landowners to discuss how existing and potential maps and other decision tools could aid wildlife habitat conservation. We also recently met with Wildlife Conservation Society staff in the Adirondacks to discuss what climate and forest models might be helpful to New York moose management.
Next steps will be to continue working with stakeholders at the state and regional scale as well as bringing in other researchers who are modeling this system. Ultimately, we hope to use the climate change refugia conservation cycle (link to Morelli et al Plos One article) to create a climate change refugia management strategy for spruce-fir specialists in the northeastern U.S., considering existing mapping efforts and local expertise.
Funded by the CSC
October 13, 2017
- Build connections between regional scientists and managers
- Provide updates on year 1 activities and products
- Learn about new refugia science and management opportunities
- Determine future directions of the RRC
Desired Outcomes & Products:
- New connections between regional scientists and managers in attendance
- Recorded symposium of new climate refugia science & management
- Co-developed plan for quantitative analysis & synthesis product
- Co-developed strategies for providing best available science to regional managers
- Plan for RRC in 2018
Funded by the CSC
November 26 2017
On Monday, November 21, 2016 scientists and managers met in Portland, OR to discuss the research and management of refugia in the Northwest region. This was the first meeting of the Refugia Research Coalition (RRC), started by the NW Climate Science Center and lead by Aaron Ramirez (NCEAS). The primary objectives of this inaugural meeting were to identify the regional management priorities that will guide the efforts of the RRC going forward and to establish important connections between regional managers and scientists. After hearing from both scientists and managers about the key refugia–related research and management topics in the region, the group proposed a list of management priorities for the RRC to focus on. That list was then refined and prioritized through active, facilitator-led discussions and exercises. By the end of the meeting the RRC had established the following as the top management priories in the region:
1. Protection and management of sage grouse and steppe habitat.
2. Protection and management of estuary and coastal ecosystems.
3. Protection and management of riparian and riverine systems.
4. Allocation and management of late successional forest reserves.
In addition, the group will focus on species of conservation need and interactions between aquatic and terrestrial systems within each of these management priority areas. Additional meetings of the RRC will explore specific research and management strategies related to refugia, with the goal of advancing the use of refugia to meet these identified management priorities.