1 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Chemical Environmental Science, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology3 Joensuu Unit4 Department of Biostatistical Sciences, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC, USA.5 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
Conservation strategies are often established without consideration of the impact of climate change. However, this impact is expected to threaten species and ecosystem persistence and to have dramatic effects towards the end of the 21st century. Landscape suitability for species under climate change is determined by several interacting factors including dispersal and human land use. Designing effective conservation strategies at regional scales to improve landscape suitability requires measuring the vulnerabilities of specific regions to climate change and determining their conservation capacities. Although methods for defining vulnerability categories are available, methods for doing this in a systematic, cost-effective way have not been identified. Here, we use an ecosystem model to define the potential resilience of the Finnish forest landscape by relating its current conservation capacity to its vulnerability to climate change. In applying this framework, we take into account the responses to climate change of a broad range of red-listed species with different niche requirements. This framework allowed us to identify four categories in which representation in the landscape varies among three IPCC emission scenarios (B1, low; A1B, intermediate; A2, high emissions): (i) susceptible (B1 = 24.7%, A1B = 26.4%, A2 = 26.2%), the most intact forest landscapes vulnerable to climate change, requiring management for heterogeneity and resilience; (ii) resilient (B1 = 2.2%, A1B = 0.5%, A2 = 0.6%), intact areas with low vulnerability that represent potential climate refugia and require conservation capacity maintenance; (iii) resistant (B1 = 6.7%, A1B = 0.8%, A2 = 1.1%), landscapes with low current conservation capacity and low vulnerability that are suitable for restoration projects; (iv) sensitive (B1 = 66.4%, A1B = 72.3%, A2 = 72.0%), low conservation capacity landscapes that are vulnerable and for which alternative conservation measures are required depending on the intensity of climate change. Our results indicate that the Finnish landscape is likely to be dominated by a very high proportion of sensitive and susceptible forest patches, thereby increasing uncertainty for landscape managers in the choice of conservation strategies.
Global Change Biology, 2015, Vol 21, Issue 2, p. 637-651