Designing landscapes for biodiversity under climate change

Authors: Veronica Doerr, Kristen Williams, Michael Drielsma, Erik Doerr, Micah Davies, Jamie Love, Art Langston, Samantha Low Choy, Glenn Manion, E. Margaret Cawsey, Heather McGinness, Tom Jovanovic, Debbie Crawford, Mike Austin and Simon Ferrier
Year: 2013

Landscape design the particular placement of areas devoted to restoration of native vegetation at landscape scales – may facilitate the maintenance of larger populations as well as shifts in species distributions, both of which should help native species adjust to changing climates. However, it is unclear exactly how to design landscapes to best achieve these goals, particularly because a range of possible changes in land uses and shifts in species distributions are expected under climate change and these could interact with landscape design approaches for biodiversity.This study investigated whether current approaches to landscape design were likely to improve the persistence of native species (and decrease persistence of key invasive species) across a range of plausible futures. Two case study landscapes in NSW selected and 48 future landscapes were modelled for each. A metapopulation capacity model was used to evaluate the change in each landscapes capacity to support viable populations relative to the current landscape. The analysis found no effect of detailed spatial placement of restoration projects on the change in metapopulation capacity of the future landscapes. Only the restoration of landscapes to ~30% native vegetation cover improved future landscapes relative to current landscapes. All current design approaches failed to fully compensate for losses in metapopulation capacity resulting from climate-related changes in land use and native vegetation communities. The report concludes that a variety of new approaches need to be explored even if they may be challenging to implement. Greater concentration of effort in priority corridors, with local actions to match local goals, may be the best immediate action until new solutions are developed.

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