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As the Earth’s climate changed in the ancient past, many species moved across the landscape to track adequate environmental conditions. Some species took shelter in remaining pockets of suitable climates, referred to as refugia. For example, refugia harbored species when vast glaciers covered much of the land, allowing them to survive and migrate again across the landscape as temperatures warmed and ice melted. Modern changes in climate are similarly compelling species to move, and some of those species may seek shelter from increasingly hostile conditions in refugia. Modern climate refugia will likely take many different forms. For example, larger-scale macrorefugia may be areas of relative climate stability that...
Droughts and insect outbreaks are primary disturbance processes linking climate change to tree mortality in western North America. Refugia from these disturbances—locations where impacts are less severe relative to the surrounding landscape—may be priorities for conservation, restoration, and monitoring. In this study, hypotheses concerning physical and biological processes supporting refugia were investigated by modelling the landscape controls on disturbance refugia that were identified using remotely sensed vegetation indicators. Refugia were identified at 30-m resolution using anomalies of Landsat-derived Normalized Difference Moisture Index in lodgepole and whitebark pine forests in southern Oregon, USA, in...
Climate change is anticipated to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts, with major impacts to ecosystems globally. Broad-scale assessments of vegetation responses to drought are needed to anticipate, manage, and potentially mitigate climate-change effects on ecosystems. We quantified the drought sensitivity of vegetation in the Pacific Northwest, USA, as the percent reduction in vegetation greenness under droughts relative to baseline moisture conditions. At a regional scale, shrub-steppe ecosystems—with drier climates and lower biomass—showed greater drought sensitivity than conifer forests. However, variability in drought sensitivity was considerable within biomes and within ecosystems and was mediated...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
During droughts, localized areas of the landscape (drought refugia) retain surface water and soil moisture needed to sustain wildlife and vegetation. Remote sensing from satellite imagery offers powerful tools to identify refugia and study their responses to changing weather patterns over time. This talk will present two recent applications of remote-sensing analysis related to drought refugia research in southern Oregon. In one study, hydrologic resilience of springs was inferred using remote sensing of groundwater-dependent vegetation in a semi-arid sage steppe ecosystem. In another, refugia from drought and mountain pine beetle were identified in lodgepole pine and whitebark pine forest. Efforts are currently...
Abstract (from ESA): Natural springs in water‐limited landscapes are biodiversity hotspots and keystone ecosystems that have a disproportionate influence on surrounding landscapes despite their usually small size. Some springs served as evolutionary refugia during previous climate drying, supporting relict species in isolated habitats. Understanding whether springs will provide hydrologic refugia from future climate change is important to biodiversity conservation but is complicated by hydrologic variability among springs, data limitations, and multiple non‐climate threats to groundwater‐dependent ecosystems. We present a conceptual framework for categorizing springs as potentially stable, relative, or transient...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
Abstract (from Applied Wetland Science): Wetland conservation increasingly must account for climate change and legacies of previous land-use practices. Playa wetlands provide critical wildlife habitat, but may be impacted by intensifying droughts and previous hydrologic modifications. To inform playa restoration planning, we asked: (1) what are the trends in playa inundation? (2) what are the factors influencing inundation? (3) how is playa inundation affected by increasingly severe drought? (4) do certain playas provide hydrologic refugia during droughts, and (5) if so, how are refugia patterns related to historical modifications? Using remotely sensed surface-water data, we evaluated a 30-year time series (1985–2015)...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
This guidebook provides user-friendly overviews of a variety of spatial datasets relevant to conservation and management of natural resources in the face of climate change in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Each guidebook chapter was created using a standardized template to summarize a spatial dataset or a group of closely related datasets. In each chapter, basic spatial and temporal information is provided for the dataset, along with a conceptual overview, glossary of key terms, links to download data and supporting documentation, a brief methods summary describing how the dataset was created, guidelines for dataset interpretation, assessment of uncertainties along with evaluation of caveats and simplifying assumptions,...
Project Summary: Warmer temperatures and less precipitation in the western U.S. related to climate change are harming many important natural resources, including forests, rivers, and many fish and wildlife species. Climate refugia provide a potential opportunity for conserving resources and biodiversity in the face of climate change. These refugia are places where the climate will likely change less than the surrounding landscape and/or places in a landscape where species may move to find more suitable climates. For example, because climate change may alter the frequency, duration, or severity of droughts, small habitats that naturally retain water (drought refugia) may become increasingly important to many natural...
Spring‐fed wetlands are ecologically important habitats in arid and semi‐arid regions. Springs have been suggested as possible hydrologic refugia from droughts and climate change; however, springs that depend on recent precipitation or snowmelt for recharge may be vulnerable to warming and drought intensification. Springs that are expected to maintain their ecohydrologic function in a warmer, drier climate may be priorities for conservation and restoration. Identifying such springs is difficult because many springs lack hydrologic records of adequate temporal extent and resolution to assess their resilience to water cycle changes. This study demonstrates proof‐of‐concept for the assessment of certain spring types...
Abstract (from Wiley Online Library): As evidenced by past climatic refugia, locations projected to harbor remnants of present‐day climates may serve as critical refugia for current biodiversity in the face of modern climate change. We mapped potential climatic refugia in the future across North America, defined as locations with increasingly rare climatic conditions. We identified these locations by tracking projected changes in the size and distribution of climate analogs over time. We used biologically derived thresholds to define analogs and tested the impacts of dispersal limitation with 4 distances to limit analog searches. We identified at most 12% of North America as potential climatic refugia. Refugia extent...
Background/Question/Methods In arid and semi-arid landscapes, springs are important sources of surface water and soil moisture for wildlife and vegetation. Springs have been suggested as possible climate-change refugia, however, springs that depend on recent precipitation or snowmelt for recharge may be vulnerable to warming and drought intensification. Effective conservation of spring-dependent ecosystems—and the biodiversity they support—requires empirical approaches to assess resilience of springs to water cycle changes. Unfortunately, hydrologic data is unavailable for most springs, and those hydrologic records that do exist typically have inadequate temporal extent and resolution to adequately characterize...