Thursday, July 12, 2018

University of Montana Ecology Professor Helps Map Climate Corridors

Explore and summarize current and projected future climate data for North American ecoregions and LCCs at the watershed level. (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The corridors of land vital for many wildlife species in the face of climate change often are unprotected.  Now, a recently published study from a University of Montana ecology professor and other researchers has tracked these shifting North American habitats.

Solomon Dobrowski, an associate professor of forest landscape ecology in UM's W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation, was part of a team that used high-performance computing methods to map "climate corridors."  Global Change Biology recently published the study.  Climate corridors form the best route between current and future climate types.  Because organisms need to avoid inhospitable climates, the corridors are often circuitous.  Although previous studies have mapped climate connectivity areas over smaller regions, this is the first time scientists have mapped these areas over entire continents.

The researchers found that routes funneled along north-south trending passes and valley systems and along the leeward or drier slopes of north-south trending mountain ranges.  Climate connectivity areas, where many potential dispersal routes overlap, often are distinct from protected areas and poorly captured by existing conservation strategies.  Many of these merit increased levels of protection due to pressures from human land use.
The researchers hope results from this study will help land managers create more effective responses to climate change by identifying landscape features that promote connectivity among protected areas.

Read more at University of Montana Ecology Professor Helps Map Climate Corridors

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