Indetifying and evaluating refugia from drought and climate change in the Pacific Northwest

Research Sponsored By: USDI US Geological Survey
Principal Investigator: Joshua Lawler
Project Description
Climatic refugia have been widely discussed as a potential opportunity for conserving biodiversity in the face of climate change. Such refugia may represent places where the climate will likely change less than the surrounding landscape and/or places in a landscape to which species may move to find suitable climates. Because climate change may alter the frequency, duration, or severity of droughts, microhabitats that retain biologically-available water (drought refugia) may become increasingly important to the resilience of natural communities. Although several approaches have been suggested for refugia identification, systematic mapping and evaluation of refugia from drought and climate change have not yet been performed in the NW CSC region. Investigations are needed at multiple scales and degrees of spatial resolution to characterize and differentiate macrorefugia and microrefugia. Furthermore, spatial and ecological comparisons of various types of refugia—e.g. from temperature change, drought, and wildfire—are needed to synthesize scientific findings into actionable information for natural resource managers. This is an emerging field of research to which this project will make substantial and innovative contributions. The objectives of this project are to identify and map macro-scale from regional changes in temperature and hydrologic conditions (i.e. drought), using a diverse set of existing data (climate projections, topography, hydrology, soil characteristics, and remotely sensed data), and to explore spatial and ecological overlaps and differences between various kinds of refugia (e.g. from temperature change, drought, and wildfire ) to produce a useful synthesis for natural resource managers.