Conservation planning with uncertain climate change projections

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Kujala, Heini, Moilanen, Atte, Araújo, Miguel B., and Cabeza, Mar

Climate change is affecting biodiversity worldwide, but conservation responses are constrained by considerable uncertainty regarding the magnitude, rate and ecological consequences of expected climate change. Here we propose a framework to account for several sources of uncertainty in conservation prioritization. Within this framework we account for uncertainties arising from (i) species distributions that shift following climate change, (ii) basic connectivity requirements of species, (iii) alternative climate change scenarios and their impacts, (iv) in the modelling of species distributions, and (v) different levels of confidence about present and future. When future impacts of climate change are uncertain, robustness of decision-making can be improved by quantifying the risks and trade-offs associated with climate scenarios. Sensible prioritization that accounts simultaneously for the present and potential future distributions of species is achievable without overly jeopardising present-day conservation values. Doing so requires systematic treatment of uncertainties and testing of the sensitivity of results to assumptions about climate. We illustrate the proposed framework by identifying priority areas for amphibians and reptiles in Europe.


Kujala, H., A. Moilanen, M. B. Araújo, and M. Cabeza. 2013. Conservation planning with uncertain climate change projections. PLoS ONE 8:e53315.