Evaluating drivers of vulnerability to climate change: a guide for insect conservation strategies


Correspondence: Paula Arribas, tel. + 0034 868 884 977, fax + 00 34 868 883 963, e-mail: pauarribas@um.es


Ongoing global climate change presents serious challenges in conservation biology, forcing us to revisit previous tools and principles based on how species may respond to novel climatic conditions. There is currently a major gap between predictions of species vulnerability and management strategies, despite the fact that linking these areas is fundamental for future biodiversity conservation. Herein, we evaluate what drives vulnerability to climate change in three Iberian endemic water beetles, representing three independent colonizations of the same habitat, employing comparative thermal physiology, species distribution models and estimations of species dispersal capacity. We derive conservation strategies for each species based on their differential capacity to persist and/or potential to shift their ranges in response to global warming. We demonstrate that species may be affected by climatic warming in very different ways, despite having broadly similar ecological and biogeographical traits. The proposed framework provides an effective complement to traditional species vulnerability assessments, and could aid the development of more effective conservation strategies in the face of global warming.