Refugia are important but are they connected? Mapping well-connected climate refugia for species of conservation concern in the Northeastern U.S.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 - 12:00pm
William DeLuca
National Audubon Society

As the climate continues to change, vulnerable wildlife species will need specific management strategies to help them adapt to these changes. One such strategy focuses on the concept of refugia, areas that are buffered from the impacts of climate change and therefore remain suitable habitats for vulnerable species over time. Refugia stand in contrast to other habitats, which are impacted by climate change and may become unsuitable for vulnerable species. When wildlife managers are considering protecting land for these species, they sometimes prioritize locations that are predicted to be climate refugia. Rarely can those managers consider, however, the overall accessibility of refugia locations for vulnerable species, which are often unwilling or unable to migrate across landscape features such as wetlands, steep lopes, and developed areas. What good is it, then, to protect climate refugia if the species we are trying to protect cannot access those locations? This webinar will provide an update on work we are undertaking regarding 10 vulnerable species and refugia locations for these species. Our project identifies refugia locations for each of the species under consideration, maps how well each refugia location is connected to other refugia locations, and also maps locations that are most critical to connect current habitat to future climate refugia. This information will allow town, state and federal officials both to prioritize land that will serve as refugia in the future and ensure that it will be accessible to species that are likely to need it.