When making important resource management decisions in the face of accelerating impacts from climate change, managers and conservation practitioners must prioritize areas for adaptation actions. “Climate refugia” are often highlighted as potential target areas for conservation because they are buffered from climate change and therefore can help to ensure greater protection of wildlife and resources.
In this presentation, Toni Lyn Morelli summarizes the physical processes that create climate refugia, discusses a new framework for locating and managing them, and uses examples to illustrate ways to identify and verify climate refugia. She highlights her research using historical comparisons, genetic data, and surveys of Belding’s ground squirrels in the Sierra Nevada to conduct a rare test to determine which montane meadows are acting as refugia to buffer wildlife populations from climate change. Focusing on climate refugia could be an important strategy to help managers prioritize habitats for conservation in a changing climate.