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You are here: Home Cooperative Our Plan Section 1: Biodiversity and Conservation Challenges Across the Appalachian Region Appalachian LCC as a Climate Refugia and Continental-scale Connectivity Corridor

Appalachian LCC as a Climate Refugia and Continental-scale Connectivity Corridor

During the Pleistocene glaciations, the Appalachians acted as a mesic and thermal refuge for a number of species and communities. In a similar manner, after the retreat of the glaciers, cold-adapted communities remained in refugia in cooler portions of the Appalachians, well south of their usual range.  The Appalachians may buffer, to some degree, the warming temperatures resulting from climate change.  Thus the Appalachian LCC region may well serve a critical role to create corridors to support species and habitat migrations ahead of climatic change.  Research suggests that mountainous regions have provided refugia historically during periods of climate change (Rull 2008). However, there remains cause for concern, especially for certain species and habitats.  The Appalachians may have critical importance as a refugia for species facing changing climates, but definitive research is lacking (Trivedi et al. 2008).  Also, other threats and stressors already evident on the landscape in the APPALACHIAN LCC may limit resiliency.

A highly functioning Appalachian LCC will be key to prioritizing and providing the information necessary to make accurate predictions and sound science decisions regarding our responses to climate change threats.  In 2009, the USFWS and USGS gathered information from a network of researchers working in the Central Appalachians to gain insight into the current number of climate change studies and the diversity of topics.  In addition to state and federally-sponsored species vulnerability assessments, there were over 20 on-going climate change research efforts at that time.  This initial assessment demonstrates that existing climate change science capacity is available as a building block for the Appalachian LCC partnership.

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