How do global priorities stack up when the heat is on?

Climate stability and global conservation priorities

The world’s large global conservation organisations have, for many years, been devising ways of spatially prioritizing their efforts around the planet. They all have their own frameworks and approaches with some prioritising highly fragmented areas to save the last remaining habitats while others may concentrate on large intact landscapes. Usually this involves breaking the world into regions with similar ecological features (eg, ecoregions). New research involving EDG scientists is examining how well these priority ecoregions will weather climate change, and they are doing this by measuring the climate stability of these areas (Iwamura et al., 2010 and 2013). Conservation planning for climate change has traditionally been based on the prediction of shifts in species range. It has used species distribution models which predict species ranges using occurrence or abundance data and environmental variables. Unfortunately, this requires detailed data for every species, making it a daunting task to perform globally.

To get around this, I have led a project to develop an alternative approach that is based on the notion of climate stability (Iwamura et al, 2010). It’s an approach that doesn’t require the (uncertain) information on future species range shifts. Rather it considers areas where the climate is expected to be most stable. Using climate stability information we modeled possible conservation funding allocations among the world’s ecoregions to achieve highest biodiversity persistence…



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