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

July 2, 2020

TThe 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.

Publication Year 2020
Title Climate-change refugia in boreal North America: What, where, and for how long?
DOI 10.1002/fee.2188
Authors Diana Stralberg, Dominique Arseneault, Jennifer Baltzer, Quinn Barber, Erin Bayne, Yan Boulanger, Carissa Brown, Hilary Cooke, Kevin Devito, Jason Edwards, Cesar Estevo, Nadele Flynn, Lee Frelich, E. H. (T.) Hogg, Mark Johnston, Travis Logan, Steven M. Matsuoka, Paul Moore, Toni Lyn Morelli, Julienne Morissette, Elizabeth Nelson, Hedvig Nenzén, Scott Nielsen, Marc-André Parisien, John Pedlar, David Price, Fiona Schmiegelow, Stuart Slattery, Oliver Sonnentag, Daniel Thompson, Ellen Whitman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Index ID 70210893
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Climate Adaptation Science Center