Conservation of Biodiversity in Changing Climates: Conserving the Stage, Not the Actors1 Kevin Ruddock The Nature Conservancy Collaborators: Dr. Peter August, URI NRS Christopher Damon, URI EDC Pam Rubinoff, URI CRC
Our Challenge: What can we protect now to ensure diverse and viable natural systems in the future?2 Will our portfolio of protected lands preserve biodiversity? The future is uncertain and change is unavoidable. What can we protect now to ensure biodiversity in the future?
How do we prioritize land protection for biodiversity?3 Protect Rare Species Protect Unique Ecosystems Expand or Connect Existing Reserves
Challenge: Changing climate and incomplete knowledge4 The landscape has changed Forest Cover and Population Trends in New England Forest Cover and Population Trends in New England 100 and will continue to do so. 80 Maine We are not interested in 60 Vermont creating ‘museums of the Percent Massachusetts past’. 40 New Hampshire Rhode Island 20 Connecticut New England population, % of 1990 popn. 0 1650 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 2000 Year Climate change will accelerate changes, shift species ranges and alter community composition.
Arenas for Evolution, not Museums of the Past5 Species may change but the geologic patterns of topography and soil will not change significantly in the same time scale. Species Based Geology Based Pitch Pine / Scrub Oak Excessively drained loamy Barren sand on flat hilltop
Ecological Land Units (ELUs) Areas of unique soil drainage, soil texture, & landform6
Mapping ELU Variety to Capture Biodiversity8 For every location in the state a ‘quality’ score is calculated based on the number of unique types of ELU within 1,500 feet.
‘Quality’: A measure of biodiversity as ELU variety9
‘Quality’: A measure of biodiversity as ELU variety10 ‘good’ quality and not connected ‘poor’ quality and not connected ‘good’ quality and connected
Conclusions11 • ELU variety correlated with increased biodiversity at many scales • ELUs can be one of many criteria used to evaluate lands for local conservation. Others include: Public access Ability to deliver ecosystem services (water protection, aesthetics) Cultural/social values • ELUs provide insight into future biodiversity Disturbance regimes and invasive species might overwhelm positive effects
Web Access to Maps and Data12 www.edc.uri.edu/elu