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Climate Change Refugia

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Climate change refugia are characterized by the occurrence of relatively stable local climatic conditions that persist over time, despite change at regional and global scales.Refugia are areas that remain relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time and enable persistence of valued physical, ecological, and socio-cultural resources. There are ways to minimize the negative effects of climate change:


Transition- Allowing inevitable changes to certain attributes of species. Examole of this is planting

Resilience- Giving the ecosystem what they need to be able to rebound from climate stressors

Resistance- Preserve as musc as possible. The preserve is called the Refugia.

Characteristics of climate change refugia for Australian biodiversity

Identifying refugia is a critical component of effective conservation of biodiversity under anthropogenic climate change. However, despite a surge in conceptual and practical interest, identifying refugia remains a significant challenge across diverse continental landscapes. We provide an overview of the key properties of refugia that promote species' persistence under climate change, including their capacity to (i) buffer species from climate change; (ii) sustain long‐term population viability and evolutionary processes; (iii) minimize the potential for deleterious species interactions, provided that the refugia are (iv) available and accessible to species under threat. Further, we classify refugia in terms of the environmental and biotic stressors that they provide protection from (i.e. thermal, hydric, cyclonic, pyric and biotic refugia), but ideally refugia should provide protection from a multitude of stressors. Our systematic characterization of refugia facilitates the identification of refugia in the Australian landscape. Challenges remain, however, specifically with respect to how to assess the quality of refugia at the level of individual species and whole species assemblages. It is essential that these challenges are overcome before refugia can live up to their acclaim as useful targets for conservation and management in the context of climate change.

Irruptive population dynamics are characteristic of a wide range of fauna in the world's arid (dryland) regions. Recent evidence indicates that regional persistence of irruptive species, particularly small mammals, during the extensive dry periods of unpredictable length that occur between resource pulses in drylands occurs as a result of the presence of refuge habitats or refuge patches into which populations contract during dry (bust) periods. These small dry‐period populations act as a source of animals when recolonisation of the surrounding habitat occurs during and after subsequent resource pulses (booms). The refuges used by irruptive dryland fauna differ in temporal and spatial scale from the refugia to which species contract in response to changing climate. Refuges of dryland fauna operate over timescales of months and years, whereas refugia operate on timescales of millennia over which evolutionary divergence may occur. Protection and management of refuge patches and refuge habitats should be a priority for the conservation of dryland‐dwelling fauna. Under the UNHCR definition of a refugee, set out in the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, people fleeing their homes because of natural disasters or other environmental problems do not qualify for refugee status and the protection that come from such status. In a recent paper, I defended the essentials of the UNHCR definition on the grounds that refugee status and protection is best reserved for people who can only be helped by granting them refuge in a safe state for an indefinite period of time, and argued that this does not include most people fleeing from natural disasters. This claim is most strongly challenged by the possibility of displacement from climate change. Refugia have long been studied from paleontological and biogeographical perspectives to understand how populations persisted during past periods of unfavorable climate. Recently, researchers have applied the idea to contemporary landscapes to identify climate change refugia, here defined as areas relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time that enable persistence of valued physical, ecological, and socio-cultural resources.

We are currently facing the likelihood of severe climate change before the close of the century. In the face of such a global driver of species loss, we urgently need to identify refugia that will shelter species from the worst impacts of climate change. This will be a critical component of successful conservation and management of our biodiversity. Despite this, little is known about how best to identify refugia in the landscape, and the practical strategies needed to identify, protect and expand refugia are just beginning to be developed. Identifying refugia that will protect most species, or large numbers of species, remains a complex and daunting endeavour due to the large variations in climatic and biotic requirements of species.Refugia are habitats that components of biodiversity retreat to, persist in and can potentially expand from under changing environmental conditions (Keppel et al., 2012), facilitating the survival of organisms during extreme climatic changes (Médail & Diadema, 2009). They may thus maintain favourable climatic conditions now absent in the surrounding landscape. This is enabled by higher local heterogeneity of microclimates and the decoupling of local from regional climates (Dobrowski, 2011; Keppel et al., 2012). Because refugia potentially safeguard the persistence of components of biodiversity over millennia, they may act as safe havens under projected anthropogenic climate change (Médail & Diadema, 2009; Keppel et al., 2012). This capacity makes them critical components in climate change management. As a result, the identification and protection of refugia has increased in priority in conservation planning (Noss, 2001; Game et al., 2011). However, refugia are currently loosely defined and their study is often based on ad hoc, descriptive data sources (Ashcroft, 2010).

Climate Change affects the distribution, abundance and persistance os species and exosystems around the world. Climate refugia are areas that remain relatively buffered from contemporary climate change.


Reside AE, Welbergen JA, Phillips BL, Characteristics of Climate change refugia for A ustralian Biodiversity, 2014, Wiley Online Library

Addison, Brandle, Dickman, McDonald,,Biological Reviews 92 (2), 647-664, 2017

Critical review of international social and political philosophy 17 (5), 618-634, 2014

Redmond, Sarah C Sawyer, Sarah Stock, Steven R Beissinger 2016.plos

Reside, VanDerWal, Ben Phillips,National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, 2013, au

Gunnar Keppel, Grant W Wardell‐Johnson,Global Change Biology 18 (8), 2389-2391, 2012. Online

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Climate Change

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Climate Refugia,,2019

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Written by   164
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