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Slow climate velocities of mountain streams portend their role as refugia for cold-water biodiversity [PNAS]

Keywords : climate refugia, climate velocity, biodiversity, fish, network

by Frédéric Magné - published on

Many studies predict climate change will cause widespread extinctions of flora and fauna in mountain environments because of temperature increases, enhanced environmental variability, and invasions by nonnative species. Cold-water organisms are thought to be at particularly high risk, but most predictions are based on small datasets and imprecise surrogates for water temperature trends. Using large stream temperature and biological databases, we show that thermal habitat in mountain streams is highly resistant to temperature increases and that many populations of cold-water species exist where they are well-buffered from climate change. As a result, there is hope that many native species dependent on cold water can persist this century and mountain landscapes will play an important role in that preservation.

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