Validating climate-change refugia: Emperical bottom-up approaches to support management

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Efforts to conserve biodiversity increasingly focus on identifying climate- change refugia – areas relatively buffered from contem-porary climate change over time that enable species persistence. Identification of refugia typically includes modeling the distribu-tion of a species’ current habitat and then extrapolating that distribution given projected changes in temperature and precipita-tion, or by mapping topographic features that buffer species from regional climate extremes. However, the function of those hypothesized refugia must be validated (or challenged) with independent data not used in the initial identification of the refugia. Although doing so would facilitate the incorporation of climate- change refugia into conservation and management decision mak-ing, a synthesis of validation methods is currently lacking. We reviewed the literature and defined four methods to test refugia predictions. We propose that such bottom- up approaches can lead to improved protected- area designations and on- the- ground management actions to reduce influences from non- climate stressors within potential refugia.

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