Refugia Research Coalition

Illustration of various types of refugia. Source: Morelli et al. 2016 —, 2016

project image

Warmer air and water temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and altered fire regimes associated with climate change threaten many important natural and cultural resources in the northwestern U.S. However, not all places on the landscape are changing in the same way. Refugia are locations that will likely experience less change or exhibit increased resilience compared to the surrounding landscape. Refugia may provide an opportunity for protecting important natural and cultural resources in the face of climate change.

Current scientific research aims to define, map, and evaluate refugia across the Northwest region. However, much of this research has yet to make its way into regional resource management and conservation plans. Therefore, in an effort to ensure that recent, ongoing, and future research properly addresses regional management and conservation priorities, the Northwest Climate Science Center has commissioned the Refugia Research Coalition (RRC) to:

1. Identify the most important resource management priorities related to refugia in the Northwest,

2. Summarize and synthesize the available refugia research and research products,

3. Identify future research priorities and products and help resource managers incorporate refugia concepts into their mangement plans.

Lead Investigator:
Aaron Ramirez, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, Santa Barbara

Other Investigator(s):

Project Contact:
Aaron Ramirez,

State: Regionwide

Funding Year: FY 2016

Project Status: In Progress

Topic Category: Vulnerability & Adaptation

Science Agenda Theme: Vulnerability and Adaptation, Communication of Science Findings

Discipline: Biology

Partners: BLM, EPA, ID state, NPS, OR state, Other, Tribes, USDA Forest Service, USGS, WA state

  • Incorporate refugia into management plans: This project will synthesize the available refugia-related science to assist managers interested in incorporating refugia into adaptive management planning. This synthesis of available science will be targeted to address regional management priorities.
  • Apply refugia concepts to resource decisions on the ground: Because incorporating refugia into adaptive management strategies will require extensive use of maps and other GIS-based tools/data, this project will compile refugia-related tools and link them to management priorities in the NW region.