Oases of the future? Evaluating springs as potential hydrologic refugia in drying climates

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

Springs in water-limited landscapes are biodiversity hotspots and keystone ecosystems, disproportionately influencing surrounding landscapes despite their often small areas. Some springs served as evolutionary refugia during previous climate drying, supporting relict species in isolated habitats. Understanding whether springs will provide hydrologic refugia from future climate change is important to biodiversity conservation but complicated by hydrologic variability among springs, data limitations, and multiple non-climate threats to groundwater-dependent ecosystems. Here, we present a conceptual framework for categorizing springs as potentially stable, relative, or transient hydrologic refugia in a drying climate. Clues about refugial capacity of springs can be assembled from diverse approaches, including citizen-science-powered ecohydrologic monitoring, remote sensing, landowner interviews, and environmental tracer analysis. Managers can integrate multiple lines of evidence to predict which springs may become future refugia for species of concern, strengthening the long-term effectiveness of springs conservation and restoration and informing climate adaptation for terrestrial and freshwater species.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Oases of the future? Evaluating springs as potential hydrologic refugia in drying climates
Series title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
DOI 10.1002/fee.2191
Volume 18
Issue 5
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 245
Last page 253
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