A ‘climate refugia’ is an area that might act as a refuge for biodiversity in case of climate change; a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ is an area with a higher than average level of biodiversity. The latter term is sometimes used for areas that host particular concentrations of rare or endemic species (without necessarily being specific in terms of total number of species).
Climate refugia are areas that remain relatively buffered from the effects of climate change over time, enabling them to play a vital role in safeguarding biodiversity. New research by Doxia et al. (2022) has identified sites that may serve as climate refugia in Mediterranean Europe over the next 50 years.
Why are climate refugia important?
In times of dramatic ecological upheaval, like that caused by climate change, identifying and protecting climate change refugia — areas relatively buffered from climate change over time — can help protect species from the negative effects of climate change in the short-term as well as provide longer-term protection for biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Climate refugia, represents an area that increases chances of adaption and conservation in a changing climate. The key attribute of refugia is their relative persistence, despite changes in the climate in the surrounding landscape. Most refugia are located outside existing national protected areas, highlighting substantial protection gaps relevant to conservation planning.
Reference: Doxa, A., Kamarianakis, Y. and Mazaris, A. D. (2022) Spatial heterogeneity and temporal stability characterize future climatic refugia in Mediterranean Europe. Global Change Biology: 1–12.