Building the climate resilience of arid zone freshwater biota

Authors: Jenny Davis, Paul Sunnucks, Ross Thompson, Lien Sim, Alexandra Pavlova, Alejandra Morán-Ordóñez, Jayne Brim Box, Glenis McBurnie, Adrian Pinder, Satish Choy, Dale McNeil, Jane Hughes, Fran Sheldon and Brian Timms
Year: 2013

This report describes the research undertaken to develop national guidelines for climate adaptation planning for arid zone aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity. The research identified the important scales, sites and processes (refugia, connectivity, dispersal, colonisation and establishment) that support the persistence of freshwater biota under a changing climate. The guidelines, which are summarised in a separate document (Davis et. al., 2013), provide a set of climate adaptation actions that are designed to support policy development, planning and on-ground actions. They are designed for use by policy developers, conservation planners, environmental professionals and community members working in natural resource management. These guidelines suggest actions that will help to reduce the risk of the loss of arid zone aquatic habitats, deteriorating water quality and the extinction of aquatic and water-dependent species. Some of the key climate adaptation actions identified through this research include: Identifying key arid zone aquatic assets and assessing vulnerability and risk; Recognising the importance of evolutionary refugia and ecological refuges as priority sites for arid zone climate adaptation planning and policy; Protecting a dynamic (spatial and temporal) mosaic of perennial, temporary and ephemeral waterbodies across the arid zone to support the persistence of aquatic and water-dependent species with varying life history traits and dispersal abilities; Maintaining connectivity and other key processes; Vulnerability assessments that determine the climate sensitivity and likely persistence of key habitats; Reducing existing stressors (particularly the impact of invasive species) on arid zone aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biota; Identifying new and novel waterbodies created by arid zone industries (e.g. mining, pastoralism) that may provide valuable offsets for aquatic systems lost through climatic drying; Implementing climate adaptation actions within a strategic adaptive management framework; Engaging indigenous groups, local communities and industry (mining, pastoralism and tourism) with climate change adaptation actions and monitoring.

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