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The performance of Protected Areas for biodiversity under climate change.

Thomas, C.D. and Gillingham, P.K., 2015. The performance of Protected Areas for biodiversity under climate change. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Full text available as:

Protected Areas under Climate Change_in press.pdf - Submitted Version


DOI: 10.1111/bij.12510


Global environmental changes have been driving large-scale shifts in the distributions of species and in the composition of biological communities. This has thrown the continuing value of Protected Areas (PAs) into question, given that PAs remain static, whereas species move, and they are predicted to continue to move under future climate scenarios. We consider empirical evidence on the observed performance of PAs during the last 40 years of anthropogenic climate change. Despite some losses of populations and species, PAs have continued to accommodate many species, which have shifted to higher elevations, to polewards-facing aspects, and into cooler microhabitats within PAs as the climate has warmed. Even when species have declined in some PAs, they often remain more abundant inside than outside PAs. Furthermore, losses from some PAs are offset by increases in others. As species expand their ranges polewards across fragmented landscapes in response to climate warming, the majority are disproportionately colonizing PAs as they go. Hence, PA networks are acting as stepping-stones of suitable breeding conditions and facilitating range shifts, with many species remaining protected across PA networks as a whole. Finally, there is some evidence that appropriate management of PAs may be able to slow climate-related declines and accelerate expansions. The 40-year track record of species responding to environmental change in PAs suggests that networks of PAs have been essential to biodiversity conservation and are likely to continue to fulfil this role in the future. The challenge for managers will be to consider the balance between retaining current species and encouraging colonization by new species.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: anthropocene; conservation; range shifts
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:21946
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:12 May 2015 13:55
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:51


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