Climate-change refugia in boreal North America: what, where, and for how long?

Diana Stralberg, Dominique Arseneault, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Quinn E. Barber, Erin M. Bayne, Yan Boulanger, Carissa D. Brown, Hilary A. Cooke, Kevin Devito, Jason Edwards, César A. Estevo, Nadele Flynn, Lee E. Frelich, Edward H. Hogg, Mark Johnston, Travis Logan, Steven M. Matsuoka, Paul Moore, Toni Lyn Morelli, Julienne L. MorissetteElizabeth A. Nelson, Hedvig Nenzén, Scott E. Nielsen, Marc André Parisien, John H. Pedlar, David T. Price, Fiona K.A. Schmiegelow, Stuart M. Slattery, Oliver Sonnentag, Daniel K. Thompson, Ellen Whitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

The vast boreal biome plays an important role in the global carbon cycle but is experiencing particularly rapid climate warming, threatening the integrity of valued ecosystems and their component species. We developed a framework and taxonomy to identify climate-change refugia potential in the North American boreal region, summarizing current knowledge regarding mechanisms, geographic distribution, and landscape indicators. While “terrain-mediated” refugia will mostly be limited to coastal and mountain regions, the ecological inertia (resistance to external fluctuations) contained in some boreal ecosystems may provide more extensive buffering against climate change, resulting in “ecosystem-protected” refugia. A notable example is boreal peatlands, which can retain high surface soil moisture and water tables even in the face of drought. Refugia from wildfire are also especially important in the boreal region, which is characterized by active disturbance regimes. Our framework will help identify areas of high refugia potential, and inform ecosystem management and conservation planning in light of climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-270
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Publication of this Special Issue was funded by the US Department of the Interior National, Northeast, and Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Centers. The content of this paper was developed in a two‐day workshop (28 Feb to 1 Mar 2018) funded by the Wilburforce Foundation and hosted by the Canadian Forest Service Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton, Canada. All coauthors prepared for and participated in the workshop, and contributed to the writing of the paper and/or development of figures and supplementary materials. We thank K Broadley and Fuse Consulting for graphic arts services, and J Littell (US Geological Survey), M Smith (Yukon Government), and D Reid (Wildlife Conservation Society Canada) for their input on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Funding Information:
Publication of this Special Issue was funded by the US Department of the Interior National, Northeast, and Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Centers. The content of this paper was developed in a two-day workshop (28 Feb to 1 Mar 2018) funded by the Wilburforce Foundation and hosted by the Canadian Forest Service Northern Forestry Centre in Edmonton, Canada. All coauthors prepared for and participated in the workshop, and contributed to the writing of the paper and/or development of figures and supplementary materials. We thank K Broadley and Fuse Consulting for graphic arts services, and J Littell (US Geological Survey), M Smith (Yukon Government), and D Reid (Wildlife Conservation Society Canada) for their input on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of the Ecological Society of America.

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