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September 15, 2020

In a recently published article, Southeast CASC supported researchers assess suitable linked habitat for focal species in the southeastern U.S. under a changing climate.

Read the original news story posted by the Southeast CASC, here.

The American black bear, the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, and the timber rattlesnake are species found in similar regions of the Southeast United States. However, scientists currently have little understanding about the degree to which species like these that use similar habitats will experience and respond to climate and land-use change threats.

In a new publication, Southeast CASC supported researchers map the existing habitat connectivity, or land that allows a species to move across the landscape, for these three focal species. Researchers then identified which connections, or linkages, were most important to maintaining populations of these species, and determined if the linkages had high or low threat from future climate and land-use change by 2050. The researchers ultimately found that each species faces different levels of climate and land-use threat and though these focal species inhabit similar spaces, their ability to adapt to future changes differs. As a result, there is no one-size-fits all approach for conserving these critical habitats, and varying conservation protection measures will need to be taken to protect these species.

Author Jennifer Costanza explains that “In conservation, we often don’t have specific information about habitat threats from climate or land-use change for a particular species. So, I think it’s common for conservation plans to assume that similar species would benefit from the same conservation actions...this study was really exciting because we were able to show a case where that doesn’t hold up – species we expected might have similar threats vary quite a bit, and they need to be considered separately in conservation planning.”

This study is part of the Southeast CASC-funded project, Understanding Habitat Connectivity to Inform Conservation Decisions.

This news announcement was written by Gina Fiorile, National CASC Science Communication Specialist.

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