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Study maps ‘climate corridors’ for shifting species

Cara J

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As climate change impacts ecosystems around the world, wildlife managers are expecting to see many species leave their current ranges for new areas better suited to them. But where are those new refuges? How will the animals get there? And what can managers do to help give them safe passage? To try to answer those questions, researchers used computing methods to map North American “climate corridors” leading from current climate types to where those climates will occur in the future. It’s the first time scientists have ever mapped climate connectivity over an entire continent, said Carlos Carroll, a researcher at the Klamath Center for Conservation Research and lead author on the study published in Global Change Biology. “Many organisms will not be able to persist in refugia if climate changes past a certain threshold,” Carroll said. “They’re going to have to shift.” Researchers found they’ll generally follow routes along passes and valley systems that trend in a north-south direction, and they’ll seek the drier, leeward slopes of mountain ranges. These paths don’t necessarily follow a straight line, Carroll found. Because species often seek out specific conditions, some are likely to follow a circuitous route to find them. “If you were [...]

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