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We define dynamic conservation areas as areas that are temporarily protected. While static network approaches and dynamic management actions have been proposed as independent climate change adaptation strategies McLeod et al. We surmise that these coupled networks stand to bolster metapopulation, metacommunity, and meta-ecosystem persistence across landscapes.

Below, we outline the benefits and limitations of implementing spatially and temporally fixed i. Finally, we present a decision framework to assist in navigating the complex decision space and trade-offs associated with integrating dynamic conservation into the broader network. Networks of permanent PAs have been widely advocated to protect metapopulations Kininmonth et al.

PA networks can be designed using network theory, where each PA is a node, and material, energy, or species' probabilities to move between nodes constitute links. Collectively, these links drive the dynamics of nodes and the response of whole networks to environmental changes Guichard et al. Connectivity among PAs can fluctuate along with changes in environmental and climatic conditions Watson et al. Hence, the role of connectivity for the stability and productivity of ecological systems depends on the distribution of movement rates and distances across the network and among interacting species.

In general, permanent PA networks can mitigate some climate change effects and benefit biodiversity by providing high quality habitat for species, communities, and ecosystems as they cope with climate stress Thomas and Gillingham, Even when permanent PAs are well-designed for current conditions, they are not immune to future abiotic and biotic changes Hannah et al. These gradual shifts are compounded by the uncertainty of extreme climate events. As one example, recurrent coral bleaching in , , and across the Great Barrier Reef highlights the sobering reality that even the best-managed PAs are subject to the influence of extreme climate events Hughes et al.

In a changing climate, it is clear that we need additional conservation tools and strategies to safeguard local and global biodiversity Fordham et al.


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Recognizing some of the limitations of static PAs in the context of global change, dynamic conservation areas represent a complementary approach. Within the context of our proposed integrated network framework, dynamic conservation areas differ from other temporary actions, such as sequential scheduling of temporary conservation areas Alagador et al. By using new technologies that facilitate real-time data collection, these dynamic areas could also be used to track changes in suitable habitat over space and time that are driven by climate change and other anthropogenic stressors.

In this way, dynamic conservation areas can confer protection that is either 1 temporary in time, by periodically protecting the same place to target a dynamic ecological process e. Case studies across ecological realms have demonstrated that, under certain conditions, dynamic protection can have positive impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Mobile species, including migratory, nomadic, and irruptive species, represent the clearest beneficiaries of dynamic protection Runge et al.

These temporary wetlands facilitate waterbird seasonal migrations through intensive agricultural mosaics, especially during droughts. In another example, a framework to identify critical habitat for the endangered Peary caribou Rangifer tarandus pearyi recognizes the need for dynamic management of migratory corridors to reflect seasonal space use Johnson et al.

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Climate-driven loss of snow and ice habitat is a primary threat to Peary caribou persistence. Using high-resolution climate data, dynamic modeling approaches can recommend the best locations for temporary protection of movement corridors at fine temporal scales. Potential locations for dynamic protection can be updated as new information, such as climate, weather or biological data, becomes available in real or near-real time Lewison et al. At a broader temporal scale, forest management plans are increasingly recognizing the need to plan for future wildlife habitat connectivity under climate change.

One dynamic strategy is to concentrate harvesting areas and then rotate these areas over time to minimize disturbance footprints and promote habitat connectivity for focal species Armstrong et al. Collectively, these examples highlight the flexible and adaptive nature of dynamic actions in relation to species and ecosystem responses, changing environments, and shifting exploitation patterns. While flexibility and responsiveness are some of the strengths of a dynamic approach to conservation, the decision to implement these actions will require balancing expected long-term gains with a number of considerations including logistics, feasibility, and uncertainties associated with future climate change and biodiversity responses to these changes Moilanen et al.

In part, the success of dynamic conservation areas depends upon whether scientific evidence can support their strategic and timely placement on the landscape. A lack of fundamental biological data at the species level e. In response to imperfect data availability, one argument has been to invest more heavily in basic research to improve forecasting models Urban et al. We believe that dynamic conservation areas align with both viewpoints because their purpose is to provide flexible place-based protection. Advances in animal telemetry Hussey et al. The emergence of open science and online repositories e.

As with all new initiatives, dynamic conservation raises new challenges, but it is our view that current scientific challenges should not stymy the development of ideas for creative biodiversity conservation. Moving forward, we anticipate that the greatest benefits of dynamic conservation areas will occur when they are intentionally planned and proactively integrated into existing networks of permanent PAs, rather than only reactive, opportunistic, or isolated conservation measures.

We argue that an integrated strategy that includes both permanent and dynamic components may be well-suited to protect biodiversity given the anticipated challenges and uncertainty associated with climate change.

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Through the lens of network theory, we propose that both permanent PAs and dynamic conservation areas can serve as nodes Figure 1. Permanent PAs fixed nodes can be thought of as the pillars of this strategy, while dynamic conservation areas temporary nodes are strategically implemented and removed if not needed in the future to accomplish specific objectives that are not achieved by permanent PAs. These two types of nodes can be connected by dynamic links, which may represent either physical connections e.

An integrated approach could maintain network connectivity across space and time, which, in turn, will play an important role in responding to climate-induced changes in habitats and dynamic biological processes such as seasonal migrations. This approach aligns with a broader call to incorporate dynamic processes and threats into systematic conservation planning SCP Pressey et al.

SCP software, such as Marxan Connect, could be used as a decision support tool to determine when dynamic conservation areas would help achieve project-specific conservation targets, e. Figure 1.

Study area

Conceptual diagram illustrating the integration of permanent PAs and dynamic conservation areas CAs to strengthen network connectivity. A Dynamic CAs can serve as stepping stones to enhance connectivity, and can be removed when they are no longer needed for conservation objectives; B Dynamic CAs can connect peripheral populations or ecosystems to the rest of the network. In general, the placement of permanent and dynamic nodes within these coupled networks should be guided by the different roles that they serve Figure 1. Ideally, permanent nodes are in locations that are robust to future climate change, allowing them to maintain their long-term conservation goals Keppel et al.

Indeed, many countries have already implemented a substantial number of permanent terrestrial PAs but note coverage lags in aquatic environments , and a large body of literature provides guidance on the expansion of permanent PAs and the role of connectivity in designing PA networks e. Yet, there are some areas, particularly fragmented areas with a large human footprint, where implementing new permanent PAs simply may not be possible.

In such cases, dynamic conservation areas could be implemented to provide critical stepping stone habitat to track species, communities, and ecosystems as their distributions change Figure 1A. Stepping stones are expected to be especially important in maintaining spatio-temporal network connectivity in dynamic landscapes that are changing over time due to climate change or other human-induced disturbances Martensen et al.

These dynamic areas could also protect peripheral populations or ecosystems as biodiversity is redistributed outside of network bounds Figure 1B. For example, temporary place-based protection at expanding range margins could help new populations establish, and may eventually protect novel genotypes if local adaptation occurs Hill et al. Additionally, maintaining links with the rest of the network could prevent peripheral extinctions via genetic rescue Whiteley et al. In general, coupling permanent PAs with dynamic conservation areas could produce emergent networks that provide spatial and temporal insurance against the known failings of relying exclusively on permanent PA networks, and the limited time horizon of dynamic protection.

These networks are scalable across both space and time, and their design should reflect the ecological processes or biological entities they are intended to protect, and the scale-dependent conservation objectives they are intended to meet. Any decision to implement an integrated spatial network that includes both permanent PAs and dynamic conservation areas will require consideration of relevant ecological, technological, socioeconomic, cultural, and logistical factors.

Initially, one must consider whether there is a need for dynamic conservation areas Figure 2 , Part 1. In some cases, augmenting static networks with dynamic conservation areas may be necessary to safeguard biodiversity or to maintain or enhance connectivity. Importantly, the ability to implement dynamic protection that buffers against climate change consequences will depend upon reliable biological data, predictive models that integrate multiple sources of uncertainties, and improved climate forecasting.

Figure 2. A decision tree for the implementation of strictly permanent PA networks vs. As an example, we ask three sets of questions to determine the suitability of integrated networks to deal with biodiversity redistributions, a common response to climate change. Dashed lines coming off intermediate steps indicate that they may or may not facilitate continued movement down the decision tree.

While the focus here is on climate change impacts, land-use changes and other disturbances could also be integrated into the decision tree. The next group of decisions must assess the spatial configuration of the existing network in the context of the surrounding landscape and the pace of ecological change Figure 2 , Part 2. Previous work has shown that the degree to which dynamic conservation areas improve the ability of permanent PAs to safeguard biodiversity hinges upon the existence of high quality habitat elsewhere in the landscape Rayfield et al.

The long-term success of an integrated network approach therefore depends on responsible landscape-scale management Hansen and DeFries, Specifically, an area's capacity to serve as a dynamic conservation area in the future depends on sustainable landscape management by stakeholders after protection is lifted. The tempo of the ecological process es should also be considered, relative to the pace of implementing PAs or dynamic conservation areas. For example, in the context of biodiversity redistributions Figure 2 , some pelagic marine species' ranges are expanding at rates exceeding hundreds of kilometers per decade Poloczanska et al.

Another set of decisions relates to the logistics of implementation Figure 2 , Part 3. While specific logistical constraints, including management and transaction costs, and enforcement issues, are highly context-specific, our decision framework acknowledges that these all require careful consideration by diverse stakeholders.

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It will be important to clarify that dynamic conservation areas are intended to complement permanent PAs, rather than detract resources from them, because PA degradation, downsizing and degazettement PADDD is an ongoing threat to conservation success Mascia and Pailler, However, in highly modified or fragmented landscapes, dynamic conservation may be the only available option to provide place-based protection that balances stakeholder interests with species or ecosystem conservation Lawler, ; Kattwinkel et al.

Our focus in this perspective is on the biological processes underpinning the design of coupled networks of permanent PAs and dynamic conservation areas, but we acknowledge that implementing such networks will require a holistic consideration of other social, economic, and cultural factors. Indeed, the systematic conservation planning process aims to minimize societal costs while optimizing biodiversity, with more recent thinking emphasizing stakeholder engagement and the implementation process McIntosh et al.

In many ways, dynamic conservation is amenable to community-led conservation because it can be achieved by coalitions of private landowners or other stakeholders, akin to conservation in traditionally farmed landscapes Fischer et al. Indeed, some precedent can be found in multi-tenure reserve networks that integrate temporary mechanisms and permanent PAs Fitzsimons and Wescott, Future work on these networks will therefore benefit from interdisciplinary work that adopts a socio-ecological perspective.

Designing spatial networks with permanent and dynamic components will also benefit from supporting policy and legislation that recognizes the adaptive nature of dynamic conservation, and the need to implement them over faster timescales than traditional permanent PAs.


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Many policies, laws, and regulations do not include provisions for climate change, let alone quick dynamic actions, thus requiring revisions Mawdsley et al. However, successful dynamic efforts reveal diverse approaches to implementation, including cooperation between NGOs and private landowners Reynolds et al. Additionally, guiding documents that are a step in the right direction do exist.

The most significant is the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity — adopted by parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

While PAs and OECMs emphasize long-term conservation objectives, Areas of Connectivity Conservation have been proposed as a complementary strategy that can take on more flexible tenures and may include temporary conservation areas Worboys et al. Ensuring biodiversity persistence under accelerating climate change requires agile conservation strategies that enable sustainable solutions. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access.

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Climate change and ecosystems

Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. This can promote ecosystem functioning in diverse ecosystems because it results in overyielding, in which species perform better when they are rare and other species are present than when they are common and other species are absent.

Figure 4 Future studies can be designed to determine the relative importance of various types of stabilizing species interactions Figure 4.