Combining physical and species‐based approaches improves refugia identification

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
By: , and 



Climate‐change refugia – locations likely to facilitate species persistence under climate change – are increasingly important components of conservation planning. Recent approaches for identifying refugia at broad scales include identifying regions that are projected to experience less severe changes (climatic exposure), that contain a diversity of physical and topographic features (environmental diversity), and that either retain or remain close to suitable climatic conditions (climate tracking, including both “species‐neutral” and species‐based approaches). We compared the degree of agreement between these approaches – with respect to their spatial coverage and other characteristics – across much of North America. This analysis found that approaches based on environmental diversity and species‐neutral climatic gradients both favored topographically complex regions, whereas climatic exposure and species‐based approaches identified regions with a range of topographic characteristics. Species‐based approaches targeting specific habitat groups identified unique regions missed by other approaches, emphasizing the importance of asking the question “refugia for what?” when prioritizing refugia. Our results highlight the necessity of including climatic exposure and species‐based information in addition to topographic diversity and climatic gradients in refugia analyses.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Combining physical and species‐based approaches improves refugia identification
Series title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
DOI 10.1002/fee.2207
Volume 18
Issue 5
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 254
Last page 260
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