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The expansion of protected areas is a critical component of strategies to promote the continued existence of biodiversity (i.e., life at all levels of biological organization) as climate changes, but scientific, social, and economic uncertainties associated with climate change are some of the major obstacles preventing such expansion. New models of climate change and species distribution and new methods of conservation planning now make it possible to explore the uncertainties associated with climate changes and species responses. Yet few reliable estimates of the costs of expanding protected areas and methods for determining these costs exist, largely because of the many (and uncertain) determinants of these costs....
To anticipate the rapidly changing world resulting from global climate change, the projections of climate models must be incorporated into conservation. This requires that the scales of conservation be aligned with the scales of climate-change projections. We considered how conservation has incorporated spatial scale into protecting biodiversity, how the projections of climate-change models vary with scale, and how the two do or do not align. Conservation planners use information about past and current ecological conditions at multiple scales to identify conservation targets and threats and guide conservation actions. Projections of climate change are also made at multiple scales, from global and regional circulation...
Conservationists have proposed methods for adapting to climate change that assume species distributions are primarily explained by climate variables. The key idea is to use the understanding of species-climate relationships to map corridors and to identify regions of faunal stability or high species turnover. An alternative approach is to adopt an evolutionary timescale and ask ultimately what factors control total diversity, so that over the long run the major drivers of total species richness can be protected. Within a single climatic region, the temperate area encompassing all of the Northeastern U.S. and Maritime Canada, we hypothesized that geologic factors may take precedence over climate in explaining diversity...
Fossil records are replete with examples of long-term biotic responses to past climate change. One particularly useful set of records are those preserved in lake and marine sediments, recording both climate changes and corresponding biotic responses. Recently there has been increasing focus on the need for conservation of ecological and evolutionary processes in the face of climate change. We review key areas where palaeoecological archives contribute to this conservation goal, namely: (i) determination of rates and nature of biodiversity response to climate change; (ii) climate processes responsible for ecological thresholds; (iii) identification of ecological resilience to climate change; and (iv) management of...
Networks of sites of high importance for conservation of biological diversity are a cornerstone of current conservation strategies but are fixed in space and time. As climate change progresses, substantial shifts in species' ranges may transform the ecological community that can be supported at a given site. Thus, some species in an existing network may not be protected in the future or may be protected only if they can move to sites that in future provide suitable conditions. We developed an approach to determine appropriate climate-change adaptation strategies for individual sites within a network that was based on projections of future changes in the relative proportions of emigrants (species for which a site...
Climate change has created the need for a new strategic framework for conservation. This framework needs to include new protected areas that account for species range shifts and management that addresses large-scale change across international borders. Actions within the framework must be effective in international waters and across political frontiers and have the ability to accommodate large income and ability-to-pay discrepancies between countries. A global protected-area system responds to these needs. A fully implemented global system of protected areas will help in the transition to a new conservation paradigm robust to climate change and will ensure the integrity of the climate services provided by carbon...
Two major approaches address the need to predict species distributions in response to environmental changes. Correlative models estimate parameters phenomenologically by relating current distributions to environmental conditions. By contrast, mechanistic models incorporate explicit relationships between environmental conditions and organismal performance, estimated independently of current distributions. Mechanistic approaches include models that translate environmental conditions into biologically relevant metrics (e.g. potential duration of activity), models that capture environmental sensitivities of survivorship and fecundity, and models that use energetics to link environmental conditions and demography. We...
We identified 100 scientific questions that, if answered, would have the greatest impact on conservation practice and policy. Representatives from 21 international organizations, regional sections and working groups of the Society for Conservation Biology, and 12 academics, from all continents except Antarctica, compiled 2291 questions of relevance to conservation of biological diversity worldwide. The questions were gathered from 761 individuals through workshops, email requests, and discussions. Voting by email to short-list questions, followed by a 2-day workshop, was used to derive the final list of 100 questions. Most of the final questions were derived through a process of modification and combination as the...