Abstract: The most cost-effective solution for biodiversity conservation under climate change is to identify and protect those places in the landscape that will harbour many species from the worst impacts of climate change. Despite widespread recognition of this goal, little is known about how best to identify refugia in the landscape, and the practical strategies needed to identify, protect and expand refugia are just beginning to be developed. A first step to identifying refugia for biodiversity across Australia is to locate the areas which show the least change into the future (i.e. the most environmentally stable), particularly along axes of temperature and precipitation. The second and crucial step is to identify the areas that will retain most of their biodiversity and provide opportunities for additional species to relocate to into the future. In this project, we take the first steps to identify refugial areas across the Australian continent under climate change scenarios. We find that the southern and eastern parts of the continent contain refugia that many species will retreat to over the next 75 years, but that the current reserve system may be inadequate to allow species to shift to and persist in these areas. Disturbingly, we also find that there is a large portion of the Australian vertebrate community for which adequate natural refugia do not appear to exist.
Biography: April recently joined Bob Pressey’s group after doing her PhD and first postdoc with the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at JCU. April’s recent research has focused on predicting the impact of climate change on terrestrial vertebrates across Australia using species distribution modelling, funded by CSIRO’s
Climate Adaptation Flagship and then the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. April’s background is in the ecology of flying vertebrates, but has dabbled in soil water deficits in plants, distribution modelling in marine systems, dietary habits of wetland birds and carabid beetles. Her undergrad was at the University of Melbourne, and has worked as an ecologist for the NGO Australian Wildlife Conservancy. April’s current project uses a conservation planning framework to identify spatial priorities for climate change adaptation; focussing on biodiversity conservation, sea level rise, carbon sequestration and habitat restoration.