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Climate refugia for Pinus spp. in topographic and bioclimatic environments of the Madrean sky islands of México and the United States

April 6, 2022

Climate refugia, or places where habitats are expected to remain relatively buffered from regional climate extremes, provide an important focus for science and conservation planning. Within high-priority, multi-jurisdictional landscapes like the Madrean sky islands of the United States and México, efforts to identify and manage climate refugia are hindered by the lack of high-quality and consistent transboundary datasets. To fill these data gaps, we assembled a bi-national field dataset (n = 1416) for five pine species (Pinus spp.) and used generalized boosted regression to model pine habitats in relation to topographic variability as a basis for identifying potential microrefugia at local scales in the context of current species’ distribution patterns. We developed additional models to quantify climatic refugial attributes using coarse scale bioclimatic variables and finer scale seasonal remote sensing indices. Terrain metrics including ruggedness, slope position, and aspect defined microrefugia for pines within elevation ranges preferred by each species. Response to bioclimatic variables indicated that small shifts in climate were important to some species (e.g., P. chihuahuana, P. strobiformis), but others exhibited a broader tolerance (e.g., P. arizonica). Response to seasonal climate was particularly important in modeling microrefugia for species with open canopy structure and where regular fires occur (e.g., P. engelmannii and P. chihuahuana). Hotspots of microrefugia differed among species and were either limited to northern islands or occurred across central or southern latitudes. Mapping and validation of refugia and their ecological functions are necessary steps in developing regional conservation strategies that cross jurisdictional boundaries. A salient application will be incorporation of climate refugia in management of fire to restore and maintain pine ecology.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Climate refugia for Pinus spp. in topographic and bioclimatic environments of the Madrean sky islands of México and the United States
DOI 10.1007/s11258-022-01233-w
Authors Sandra L. Haire, Miguel L. Villarreal, Citlali Cortés Montaño, Aaron D. Flesch, José M. Iniguez, Jose Raul Romo-Leon, Jamie S. Sanderlin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Plant Ecology
Series Number
Index ID 70230268
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Geographic Science Center