Climate diversity and protected areas

Publication Type  Conference Presentation
Authors  David D. Ackerly
Affiliations  Department of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley
Year  2009
Key Words  climate change; protected areas; topography; spatial variability; GIS

Climate changes poses new and formidable challenges for the design and management of protected area networks. In the face of uncertainty, in both the magnitude of climate change and its biotic impacts, how can decisions be made now? I will present one approach to this problem, focusing on the role of climatic diversity across landscapes. In the Bay Area, coastal, elevational and topographic features generate high levels of spatial variability in temperature and rainfall. In the face of changing climates, spatially heterogeneous landscapes are expected to support greater biological diversity and provide more opportunities for small-scale migration and local climatic refugia. These patterns can be evaluated at a range of spatial scales, from small-scale topoclimate variability (tens of meters) to elevational and regional climatic variability (tens of kilometers). I will present quantitative and GIS-based methods to evaluate and visualize this heterogeneity, and the potential value of new and expanded reserves, and connectivity between reserves. These methods merit consideration as a basis for short-term decision-making, and pose a related set of research questions to test underlying assumptions and identify appropriate spatial scales in relation to the demography and dispersal capacity of different species.


David Ackerly is an Associate Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, and the Curator of Ecology for the UC and Jepson Herbaria, at the University of California Berkeley. Current research projects are examining vernal pools of the Central Valley, evergreen shrubs in California and Australia, tropical forests in Ecuador, and potential impacts of climate change on the endemic flora of California. At Berkeley, Professor Ackerly teaches courses on Ecology, Plant Ecology, Biodiversity, and Plants of the UC Botanical Garden.

Conference Name  2009 State of the Laguna Conference and Science Symposium
Presentation Type: 
1_Ackerly_Wed session 2.pdf2.65 MB