Review: facilitating range shifts across barriers

Looking to catch up on recent advances and strategies for facilitating range shifts as a response to climate change? A new review by Robillard et al. in Conservation Biology provides a look at the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation on species’ ability to track changing climates, as well as summarizes literature on existing conservation planning and management approaches that facilitate species dispersal through regions of intensive land uses.  They focus on several ideas, including:

  • human_footprintspecies range responses to changing habitat and climatic conditions, including movement and dispersal
  • the need for continued creation and maintenance of protected reserves, with a call for new strategies for prioritizing potential reserves
  • protecting or restoring habitat along climate change trajectories, such as along latitudinal or elevational gradients
  • the value and challenges of connecting conservation areas through corridors, stepping stones or translocation, especially across trans-national borders
  • identifying sites that can act as refugia to buffer the impact of climate change, and understanding the distribution and spatial dynamics of these refugia
  • local adaptation and dispersal ability as targets for selection to respond to climate change

Although uncertainty is an unavoidable feature of planning for climate change, adaptive management programs that maximize conservation goals across multiple species are most likely to mitigate negative effects.  The authors conclude with suggestions for how to focus conservation actions using the framework presented, and emphasize the use of multiple strategies to facilitate species movement beyond human-imposed dispersal barriers.


Robillard C. M., L. E. Coristine, R. N. Soares, and J. T. Kerr. 2015. Facilitating climate-change-induced range shifts across continental land-use barriers. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12556.

2016-10-14T10:10:31-04:00 October 1st, 2015|

About the Author:

Heather Cayton
Heather Cayton is the Managing Director of and a Research Assistant at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia and her M.S. from Virginia Tech, and has spent over 10 years studying corridors and rare butterflies in North Carolina.