Climate change is not only a major threat to biodiversity, it is also a big challenge to the development of conservation strategies. Scientists and practitioners need to select or avoid areas at greatest risk for species protection, i.e., acting in a proactive or a reactive manner. This proactive/reactive dichotomy takes a particular formulation under the likely changes in climate. Selecting for low-risk areas (usually referred to as climate refugia) is supposed to protect more species with a greater guarantee of their long-term persistence. As a consequence, populations at greatest risk are left unprotected and probably committed to extinction. On the other hand, managing species in high-risk areas is more expensive than setting aside areas of climate refugia and encompasses a set of uncertainties, which makes highly-threatened species more costly and difficult to save. Here, we combine ecological niche models and metrics of climate change to develop spatial conservation schemes for mammals in the Brazilian Amazon. These schemes efficiently identify networks of high-risk and refugia priority areas within species current and future distributions, while complementing the protection already achieved by the Amazon’s network of protected areas (PAs). We found that, on average, 25% of mammal distribution is already represented in the established network of PAs. Also, 26% of high-risk and 17% of refugia priority areas overlap with indigenous lands. In addition, species distributions were found mostly in high-risk, compared to in refugia priority areas. We highlight that the strategy to be employed does not necessarily should be binary and a mix of both strategies would guarantee the protection of a larger number of species.
Biodiversity and Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 16, 2018
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