Washington Connected Landscapes Project: Climate-Gradient Corridors Report

Prepared by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, this report builds off of a previous (2010) assessment of habitat connectivity patterns for wildlife in Washington. This study factors climate change into the assessment and identifies “climate-gradient corridors” that can support habitat conservation and wildlife migration and response to future changes in climate.

A variety of map products were developed to visualize climate-gradient corridors that can be used for coarse-scale, landscape-level planning. This report aims to provide guidance regarding the interpretation and implementation of these maps which identify corridors intended to facilitate climate-driven range shifts through fragmented landscapes.

The climate-gradient corridor analysis identifies corridors that fall along the climatic gradients (e.g., temperature) species are likely to follow as they track changing climates. The maps show core areas of relative temperature consistency and habitat corridors that would allow species to move from warmer to nearby cooler core areas. The corridors were identified by modeling routes with relatively unidirectional rates of change in temperature, and also routes with relatively less human impact and development.

The report also includes recommendations and opportunities for future analysis to gain further understanding of the effects of climate change on habitat and connectivity corridors. It suggests using finer scale data or analysis to determine more accurate corridor locations and overlaying other information such as species distribution data to better prioritize corridors that lead to areas with high levels of species diversity.

This study is related to additional studies planned by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group that address climate-gradient corridor analysis and habitat connectivity in light of climate change. In 2013, the working group released a report analyzing the utility of using downscaled climate projections to identify climate-resilient corridors - "An Evaluation of the Utility of Fine-Scale, Downscaled Climate Projections for Connectivity Conservation Planning in Washington State," which is also reviewed in this clearinghouse. 

The Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group is a science-based partnership that is composed of participants representing land and natural resource management agencies, organizations, tribes, and universities. The working group is co-led by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Transportation.  

Publication Date: August 2011

Related Organizations:

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Washington State Department of Transportation

Sectors:

Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Climate science

States Affected:

Impacts:

  • Air temperature

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