Managing for Biodiversity Loss from Climate Change

Climate, Forests and Woodlands March 14, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF
Adapted from: Manley, P. 2008. Biodiversity and Climate Change. (May 20, 2008). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center. http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/topics/biodiversity.shtml

Managing for biodiversity and the potential loss of species due to a changing climate poses several challenges toward the management of natural resources. The loss of keystone species, species redundancy, and/or unique species may lead to loss of specific ecosystem services and processes as well as less overall plant and animal community resilience to environmental stressors. Identifying which species are at risk due to climate-driven ecological changes such as fire frequency and severity, precipitation amounts and patterns, or temperature extremes — as well as the management practices and costs associated with mitigating these changes — can be daunting. Below is a list of initial proactive measures that natural resource managers and landowners can take to address the potential loss of biodiversity on their lands and geographic areas.

  • Identify ecoregions and communities most at risk, and develop landscape design options for maximizing the ability of species to persist and disperse and of communities to retain similar compositional structures.
  • Evaluate the adequacy of current management indicators (e.g., species, guilds, habitat measures) used for detecting ecological changes and risks to biodiversity associated with climate change, and determine how they may need to be revised to improve their performance and the management responses they may invoke.
  • Evaluate ecological risks and management options along major ecological transition zones within and between ecoregions to conserve important strongholds of at-risk species and communities.
  • Develop biodiversity conservation opportunity and risk maps at forest and ecoregional scales that can be used to inform management about the location, vulnerabilities, and management recommendations for ecologically significant areas expected to be sensitive to climate change. For example, identify primary corridors that would facilitate latitudinal and elevational migrations of the majority of native species.




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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.