Using decision science to inform management: A focus on climate change refugia

Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Research Partners: US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, National Park Service, USGS, University of California-Berkeley, Missouri State University, SW CSC, University of Montana, University of Washington
Science Themes: 

The field of climate adaptation is still getting established, and guidelines and examples for how to manage for climate change on-the-ground are still rare. The concept of climate change refugia, areas buffered from climate change that enable persistence of valued resources, is being discussed as a potential adaptation option in the face of anthropogenic climate change. This project seeks to provide practical guidance for how to operationalize this concept and to work with stakeholders to help prioritize actions to conserve climate change refugia. In addition, I use the tools of ecological and climate modeling and historical field data to test predictions of climate change refugia in the Sierra Nevada of California.

Many resource managers and conservation organizations are looking to help their ecosystems, habitats and species adapt to climate change.  Climate change refugia can allow species to persist in the face of warming and changing precipitation regimes.  Managers are eager to learn how to implement these ideas.


Maher, S. P., T. L. Morelli, M. Hershey, A. L. Flint, L. E. Flint, C. Moritz, and S. R. Beissinger. 2017. Erosion of refugia in the Sierra Nevada meadows network with climate change. Ecosphere 8(4):e01673. 10.1002/ecs2.1673

Morelli TL, Daly C, Dobrowski SZ, Dulen DM, Ebersole JL, Jackson ST, et al. (2016) Managing Climate Change Refugia for Climate Adaptation. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0159909. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159909

  • Morelli, Toni Lyn. - invited talk . ESA , Baltimore. August 2015
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn. - presentation + organized session on climate change refugia; AGU December, 2015 
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn. "How to Prioritize Key Areas for Conservation Efforts in a Changing Climate: A Look at “Climate Refugia”  NCCWSC Seminar, December 8, 2015
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn. "Managing Climate Change Refugia for Biodiversity Conservation" workshop at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 2016
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn.  "Co-production of knowledge: managers and scientists working together for effective conservation in the face of climate change" Organized session for the Natural Areas Conference, Davis, CA,  October 2016
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn.  "Climate-Influenced Species Range Shifts: Where Are We Headed?" Organized session at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Dec 2016, San Francisco
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn.  "Climate Project Screening Tool" US Forest Service Region 5 Invited Webinar, Feb 15, 2017
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn.  "The Northeast Climate Science Center: Improving the Way Climate Science Informs Resource Management" 76th Annual Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Lincoln NE, Feb 7, 2017
  • Morelli, Toni Lyn. "Conserving Climate Change Refugia as a Climate Adaptation Strategy" George Wright Symposium presentation, Norfolk VA, April 6, 2017