Conservation Strategies for a Changing Climate

by Weronika Konwent

     Conservation of marine species, especially as a response to climate change, requires a reliable conception of current and future spatial distribution of species to allow for the protection of biodiversity and the establishment of conservation at the most appropriate sites. Gormley et al. use Species Distribution Modeling (SDM) to predict how Priority Marine Habitats (PMH) in the NE Atlantic might shift and change according to climate change induced changes.

In this study, predicted changes were used to draw inferences on many different topics, including the spread of PMHs both now and in the predicted climate change-affected world 100 years from now, the overlap between PMHs and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), whether MPAs are equipped to accommodate PMHs, and how this will affect conservation and management planning in the future. With current trends aiming towards expansive established international protection, steps are being taken to predict anthropogenic interaction with MPAs and how a balance can be maintained. In this study, several independent factors were chosen to portray a suitable environment based on the ecological requirements of a typical PMH. A SDM program was then used to designate potential PMHs. These areas were then compared with existing MPAs, and crossed with commercial zones. These results are meant to provide a map of potential PMH hotspots and a framework for future MPAs. Inaccurately placed MPAs have the potential to aggravate fragmentation, which, combined with habitat loss from climate change, may lead to serious issues with population response and adaptability. As suitable species-specific habitats move and change, a confident model of species distribution that supports effective creation of protected areas will help to support the natural adaptive processes that regional species will have to undertake to keep up with the times.

Gormley, Kate S.G., Hull, Angela D., Porter, Joanne S., et al. 2014. Adaptive management, international co-operation and planning for marine conservation hotspots in a changing climate. Marine Policy, 53, 54-66.

TAGS: Kate Gormley, Angela Hull, Joanne Porter, Michael Bell, William Sanderson, priority marine habitat, climate change, marine protected area, species distribution modeling,

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