Human Land Uses Reduce Climate Connectivity
Maintaining and enhancing climate connectivity maximizes the likelihood that organisms can adequately shift their geographic ranges in response to climate change and reduces the likelihood of extinctions. The degree of climate connectivity in a landscape can be summed up by several types of measurements. For example, climate velocity estimates how fast organisms must travel in order to maintain similar climate conditions in future time periods. Climate exposure is a measure of the degree of dissimilarity in climate that individuals will encounter as they move in response to climate change. One important factor influencing measures of climate connectivity is human land use, which is often not incorporated into climate vulnerability assessments. There are two ways in which human land uses may influence climate connectivity. First, as organisms shift in response to climate change, they may avoid areas with intense land uses. Second, climatically ideal destinations may not be viable due to incompatible human land uses. This study quantified how human land uses altered potential movement routes when considering a reference period (1981–2010) and late-century (2071–2100) climate across North America. In doing so, climate corridor maps were produced to increase the ability of managers to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change on North America’s biodiversity resources. Results showed that climate connectivity decreased across North America when considering human land uses, and a vast majority (~96%) of movement routes in North America must contend with human land uses to some degree. Previous evaluations of climate connectivity underestimate climate change exposure because they do not account for human impacts. Conservation planners should incorporate human land uses when thinking about species shifts in response to climate change. Climate corridors, which represent the best pathways for successful range shifts, should be protected to facilitate movement of organisms.
Forest Service Partners