The ability to anticipate and prepare for climate change is a major focus in conservation ecology, and species bioclimate models are one of few available predictive tools. Most bioclimate models are parameterized with data from adult life-stages and focus on distribution-scale shifts, limiting their ability to project changes for long-lived species subject to strong local interactions. The default use of climate parameters associated with the adult life stage could limit reliability of model predictions for species with long life spans or complex life histories. Yes, models could be refined to more accurately represent likely species-level responses to climate change with field data on the distribution of the most vulnerable and/or early life history stages of the species.
Using California valley oaks, we are conducting a multi-scale observational study to assess the correspondence between bioclimate model projections and actual patterns of sapling recruitment across sites. Our goal is to understand (1) the potential implications of an adult- versus early-life stage focus in generating model predictions and (2) how local refugia and redistribution dynamics relate to patterns projected at larger landscape scales.
Project participants: Blair McLaughlin and Erika Zavaleta