Conserving Refugia: What Are We Protecting and Why?

Maurizio Rossetto, Robert Kooyman
2021 Diversity  
Refugia play an important role in contributing to the conservation of species and communities by buffering environmental conditions over time. As large natural landscapes worldwide are declining and are increasingly threatened by extreme events, critical decision-making in biological conservation depends on improved understanding of what is being protected by refugia and why. We provide three novel definitions for refugia (i.e., persistent, future, and temporary) that incorporate ecological and
more » ... evolutionary dynamics into a land management decision framework and are applicable across changing temporal and spatial settings. Definitions are supported by identification, core value, and management strategy criteria to assist short- and long-term decision-making. We illustrate these concepts using the World Heritage Gondwana Rainforests (WHGR) of eastern Australia, briefly exploring the spatial and temporal factors that can inform the development of conservation management strategies following the extreme fire events of 2019–2020. For the WHGR, available knowledge can be used to protect critical assets by recognizing and implementing buffer zones and corridor connections, and by undertaking emergency translocations of target species into safe areas that will act as future refugia. More broadly, we suggest that the identification and protection of ecological and evolutionary processes across varying temporal and spatial scales is central to securing improved biodiversity conservation outcomes.
doi:10.3390/d13020067 fatcat:oqgtyxmiyfg35mqlduddnhasqy