Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow

Abstract

Climate change poses a critical challenge for conservation planners. Changes in the earth’s climate will likely result in shifts in the ranges of both plants and animals. These shifts bring into question whether current nature reserves will adequately protect biodiversity in the future. This project addresses this crucial question as well as the equally important question of how to select reserves that will successfully protect biodiversity in a changing climate. To investigate these questions, I will model the shifts in the ranges of North American vertebrates as predicted by a range of climatic change scenarios projected by one or more global circulation models (GCMs). I will compare these predicted ranges with the distribution of current reserves. In addition, I will compare the performance of different reserve-selection strategies based on redundancy, connectivity, stepping stones, reserve size, and the centrality of species ranges for protecting biodiversity in alternative future climates.