A first step in prioritizing riparian corridors for climate adaptation planning

Riparian areas are key targets for conservation efforts aimed at promoting biological resilience to climate change. However, few methods are available to managers to prioritize specific riparian areas when developing climate adaptation strategies. Current methods typically use riverine connectivity as a coarse proxy for riparian connectivity and do not account for variability in habitat quality, which should influence species range shifts and availability of refugia.

To improve on these methods, Dr. Meade Krosby at the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group and her colleagues completed a fine-resolution analysis, which identifies potential riparian areas with characteristics (e.g., high canopy cover, large temperature gradient) expected to benefit species. They also integrate results from across scales—from local watersheds to the entire Pacific Northwest (USA).

The researchers emphasize the analysis' value as a first step toward identifying Pacific Northwest riparian areas that are most likely to promote biological resilience to climate change. Though they acknowledge the analysis has limitations that must be considered before its application, the results greatly improve the ability of natural resource managers to prioritize riparian corridors in climate adaptation planning.

To learn more about the project, explore these resources:

This work was supported by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Department of Fish & Game, Great Northern and North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and Wilburforce Foundation, and is part of the WGA/LCC Riparian Mapping Project.

 

 

The analysis area (outlined in red) spanned the Pacific Northwest hydrologic region, excluding portions of Wyoming and Montana (dark gray).