Fire Management for Climate Change Refugia

Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Kate Marie Wilkin1, David Ackerly1 and Scott Stephens2, (1)University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)University of California Berkeley, ESPM, Berkeley, CA, United States
Early climate change ideas predicted catastrophic species extinctions. As scientists probed more deeply into species responses, a more nuanced perspective emerged indicating that some species may persist in microrefugia (refugia), especially in mountainous terrain. Refugia are habitat that buffer climate changes and allows species to persist in – and to potentially expand under – changing environmental conditions. While climate and species interactions in refugia have been noted as sources of uncertainty, land management practices and disturbances, such as wildland fire, must also be considered when assessing any given refugium. Our landscape scale study suggests that areas thought to act as small-scale refugia, cold-air pools, have unique fire occurrence and severity patterns in frequent-fire mixed conifer forests of California’s Sierra Nevada: cold-air pool refugia have less fire and if it occurs, it is lower severity. Active management for climate change adaptation strategies may be required to maintain these distinctive and potentially important refugia.