Diana Stralberg

University of Alberta
To inform broad-scale conservation priorities in a changing climate, multiple integrative metrics of conservation value have been proposed and mapped across large areas of North America. Previous syntheses have demonstrated the general lack of concordance among such metrics, suggesting that they rather provide complementary information for conservation planning. Climatic macrorefugia represent areas of high conservation efficiency, in that they do not depend on massive broad-scale distribution shifts, but rather emphasize the places where species are more likely to persist in place, and the areas to which species can more readily disperse within decadal timeframes. Macrorefugia locations can vary greatly by species, ecosystem, and biome, however. Given the rapid rate of change anticipated, this focus can result in triage of many species with low macrorefugia potential due to geographically limited or fragmented distributions. Thus it is also important to consider microrefugia potential not captured in climate model projections; as well as areas that serve as climatic “corridors” to facilitate long-distance distribution shifts. To evaluate broad-scale conservation priorities for Canada and the United States, we used the Zonation conservation planning software to evaluate a series of scenarios containing different combinations of these indicators of macrorefugia (for tree and songbird species), microrefugia (as represented by landform diversity), and climate corridors (based on circuit theory). We also evaluated regional priorities considering the existing protected areas network and human footprint. In doing so we assessed (a) representation of refugia and corridors within the current protected areas network, and (b) priorities for new protected areas.