Research highlight

Optimizing biodiversity conservation under climate change

Nature Climate Change

September 19, 2011

The most effective conservation measures for minimizing extinction risk under climate change for one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems are investigated in a paper published online this week in Nature Climate Change.

Brendan Wintle and co-workers combined ecological predictions with an economic decision framework to prioritize conservation activities between fire-risk management and habitat loss minimization in the endangered South African fynbos. This analysis revealed a counterintuitive optimal investment strategy that switched twice between different options as the available budget increased. They argue that these findings show that the choice of how much to invest is as important as determining where to invest and what actions to take.

It is well established that climate change poses significant risks to biodiversity, yet little information exists to help conservation planners account for these risks within realistic budgets. Prioritization methods such as the one reported in this study can be applied at any scale to minimize species loss and evaluate the robustness of decisions.

doi: 10.1038/nclimate1227

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