Context Management for positive biodiversity outcomes under a changing climate requires a shift of perspective relative to traditional conservation. Here we develop a repeatable indicator for measuring the capacity of landscapes to retain biodiversity under a range of plausible climate futures, as a function of the condition and spatial configuration of native habitat.
Methods The Spatial Resilience Index extends an existing approach to assessing the potential for biodiversity associated with any location in a region to access suitable habitat in the surrounding landscape under climate change, incorporating multiple dispersal rates integrated over time and an optimised spatial structure. Derivation of the indicator is demonstrated for an Australian case study, covering the entire State of New South Wales, drawing on existing spatial datasets and models.
Results Mapping of the Spatial Resilience Index across New South Wales suggests that different regions, and locations within these regions, vary markedly in their expected capacity to retain biodiversity, depending on the direct rate of climate change, the degree of climatic buffering (or reduction of climate velocity) afforded by landscape heterogeneity, and the degree of anthropogenic impacts on the connectedness of habitat in the landscape. The developed approach accounts for the interplay between these processes by treating them within a unified framework.
Conclusions The index highlights areas which can potentially benefit from adaptive management (e.g. habitat restoration) to enhance capacity to retain biodiversity under climate change, and offers an objective means of monitoring any resulting change in this capacity over time.