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Climate-smart Strategies for Identifying Connected Conservation Areas

KBO produces science that is relevant to pressing conservation issues. A recent report (see Frost 2018) identifies three objectives that are important for demonstrating the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion’s connectivity values and for identifying the locations of specific areas that most contribute to maintaining important ecological function across the area’s landscape. These objectives include identifying high-priority conservation areas, designing potential linkage zones between existing reserves or core habitat patches, and developing strategies for increasing resilience to climate change. Several data-rich products that have resulted from KBO’s conservation science collaborations relate to these three subjects of interest.

1. Identify high-priority conservation areas – A paper published in Conservation Biology, Improving Effectiveness of Systematic Conservation Planning with Density Data, presents a novel modeling approach that can be used to rank conservation areas. The approach involves modeling both bird distributions and densities (i.e., abundances). The paper shows high priority areas in the Pacific Northwest that are concentrated in the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion.

2. Design potential linkage zones between existing reserves or core habitat patches for focal species – A paper titled Comparing Ecoregional Classifications for Natural Areas Management in the Klamath Region, USA describes patterns of plant, amphibian, mammal, and bird distribution that are commonly used to identify ecological boundaries in the Klamath region. More specific to ongoing connectivity discussions, the analyses provide spatially explicit insights into areas of connectivity within the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion.

3. Develop strategies for increasing resilience to climate changeThe Pacific Northwest Climate Change Avian Vulnerability decision support tool uses our data-rich modeling approach to present current and future distributions of birds and their habitats and can be used to show areas of turnover and refugia. The tool is freely available and all of the spatially explicit data outputs are downloadable. 

The data-rich products described above were created to help identify priority conservation areas, identify important connectivity linkage zones, and develop climate-smart conservation strategies. To insure that our science results in meaningful conservation outcomes KBO staff engage in various conservation forums to demonstrate the relevance of our work to scientists and managers who can use our science to inform and improve their efforts to conserve important ecosystems.