Climate Change Refugia Conservation as a 21st Century Solution
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Proposed Symposium Title: Climate Change Refugia Conservation as a 21st Century Solution
Toni L. Morelli1
Affiliations: 1 Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Amherst, USA
Anthropogenic climate change is posing a serious risk to Earth’s biodiversity. As scientists and practitioners, we can document the erosion of our biodiversity, and can model how those changes will increase with each warming increment. However, we can also work together to identify ways to reduce those impacts. Climate adaptation focuses on conducting and translating research to minimize the impacts of climate change, including threats to biodiversity and human welfare. One adaptation strategy is to focus conservation on climate change refugia, areas that remain relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time and enable persistence of valued physical, ecological, and socio-cultural resources. Climate refugia is a concept that has existed for more than 100 years, originating in the paleontological literature to understand what fostered the survival of disjunct populations despite severe and rapid past climate change events. The refugia concept has captured the attention of scientists, practitioners, and the public more recently, in part because it offers some hope of maintaining current conditions, at least in some places and for the short term. The field transcends disciplines and sectors and intersects with knowledge about other global change stressors like fire, drought, and invasive species to create actionable science that can, in its own small way, address the biodiversity crisis. This talk will synthesize the work that has been to develop and implement the climate change refugia concept and where it is headed in the 21st century.