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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Climate-change refugia: biodiversity in the slow lane.

  • Author(s): Morelli, Toni Lyn;
  • Barrows, Cameron W;
  • Ramirez, Aaron R;
  • Cartwright, Jennifer M;
  • Ackerly, David D;
  • Eaves, Tatiana D;
  • Ebersole, Joseph L;
  • Krawchuk, Meg A;
  • Letcher, Benjamin H;
  • Mahalovich, Mary F;
  • Meigs, Garrett W;
  • Michalak, Julia L;
  • Millar, Constance I;
  • Quiñones, Rebecca M;
  • Stralberg, Diana;
  • Thorne, James H
  • et al.

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Climate-change adaptation focuses on conducting and translating research to minimize the dire impacts of anthropogenic climate change, including threats to biodiversity and human welfare. One adaptation strategy is to focus conservation on climate-change refugia (that is, areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time that enable persistence of valued physical, ecological, and sociocultural resources). In this Special Issue, recent methodological and conceptual advances in refugia science will be highlighted. Advances in this emerging subdiscipline are improving scientific understanding and conservation in the face of climate change by considering scale and ecosystem dynamics, and looking beyond climate exposure to sensitivity and adaptive capacity. We propose considering refugia in the context of a multifaceted, long-term, network-based approach, as temporal and spatial gradients of ecological persistence that can act as "slow lanes" rather than areas of stasis. After years of discussion confined primarily to the scientific literature, researchers and resource managers are now working together to put refugia conservation into practice.

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