High-risk conservation planning required to combat effects of climate change

Low-risk climate refugia not sufficient to protect mammals of the Amazon

Inia geoffrensis
Amazon river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) by Kevin Schafer via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

When planning conservation efforts, protecting climatically stable refugia is a low-risk investment, as species are considered more likely to persist in areas less affected by climate change. Such prioritization, however, is often done at the expense of less stable high-risk areas, effectively leaving inhabiting species unprotected and committed to extinction.

Proposing a novel strategy for the conservation of mammals in the Amazon, researchers used GBIF-mediated occurrences of 256 species to generate ecological niche models that served as primary input to a spatial prioritization analysis taking into consideration climate change metrics including climate anomalies and extremes.

The resulting analysis identified a network of both high-risk areas and low-risk refugia while revealing more current and future distributions of species in the former. The study presents a robust approach to conservation planning, taking into account uncertainties arising from alternative climate models and showing that trade-offs related to species representation can be quantified explicitly.

Link to original article

Ribeiro BR, Sales LP and Loyola R (2018) Strategies for mammal conservation under climate change in the Amazon. Biodiversity and Conservation. Springer Nature 27(8): 1943–1959. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-018-1518-x.