Decisions under climate change

Luke Shoo and colleagues provide a decision framework for the full complement of actions aimed at conserving species under climate change. These actions range from ongoing conservation in existing refugia through to things we can do outside of the natural environment.

The researchers recognize that the allocation of resources is not just about the perceived vulnerability of individual species. It also relates to factors such as the likelihood of success, cost and likely co-benefits to non-target species. They use expert judgment of probable tradeoffs in resource allocation to inform the sequential evaluation of proposed management interventions.

In their decision framework, conservation actions are linked to evaluations of species’ genetic adaptability and potential to adjust their ranges in response to climate change. They believe that this is an important first step toward optimizing the allocation of resources aimed at conserving species under climate change. The challenge is to ensure that vulnerable species are identified as candidates for management intervention.

Next they seek to match likely species responses with interventions that might assist these adjustments. They begin with low level interventions and progressively defer to higher levels of intervention. The logical motivation for this sequencing is the presumption that higher levels of intervention are also likely to be more expensive, less certain, have fewer co-benefits to non-target species and be where societal values will increasingly impinge on which species will be saved or lost.

The researchers believe that this structured approach to evaluating the necessity and appropriateness of different adaptation actions, informed by the expected costs, likelihood of success and possible cobenefits (eg, restoration of habitat within shared refugia), represents an important advance on generic recommendations.



Shoo LP, AA Hoffmann, S Garnett, RL Pressey, YM Williams, M Taylor, L Falconi, CJ Yates, JK Scott, D Alagador & SE Williams (2013). Making decisions to conserve species under climate change. Climate Change DOI 10.1007/s10584-013-0699-2

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