Climate change vulnerability assessment for the protected areas in central Iran using the climate change velocity metric

Authors and Affiliations: 

1- Shima Malakoutikhah

Ph. D student, Department of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan-Iran, Email:

2- Sima Fakheran

Assist. Prof, Department of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan -Iran, Email:

3- Mahmoud Reza Hemami

Assoc Prof, Department of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan-Iran, Email:

Corresponding author: 
Sima Fakheran

Climate change is expected to become one of the greatest driver of biodiversity loss (Thomas et al.,2004). Mitigating the impacts of climate change is considered as the most effective way to reduce the threats of climate change to biodiversity however, there will always be some amount of current and future change in climate that is certain to occur (Steel et al.,2011). Under this circumstances, climate adaptation has been recommended as an effective approach to conserve many species in the face of climate change (Steel et al.,2011). The first important step in facilitating adaptation to climate change is to identify the most vulnerable species and regions to projected climate change (Baron et al.,2009). This vulnerability assessment has also been recognized as the first step in incorporating climate change into biodiversity management plans (Nadeau et al.,2015).

Various metrics have been developed to evaluate vulnerability of regions and species to climate change, among which the climate change velocity index is the most commonly used (Carroll et al.,2016). climate-velocity analysis has been developed to provide an estimate of the spatial rate of climate change, as an initial rate of migration species required for tracking their suitable climate conditions in future (Chen et al., 2011; Loarie et al., 2009). Climate velocity is calculated by dividing the rate of temporal (C°/yr) to spatial (C°/km) projected changes in climate (Hamann et al., 2015). This metric has been used to evaluate vulnerability of different ecosystems, protected areas and species to climate change (Loarie et al., 2009; Carroll et al.,2016; Barber et al.,2015). In addition, it is also an efficient tool for comparing climate change vulnerability among regions and across different species based on their present distribution (IPCC, 2014).

So far, protected areas in Iran have been assessed for their efficiency in protecting habitats of different animal and plant species (Momeni et al.,2013; Jafari et al.,2011). However, climate change related indices have never been used as a criterion for assessing the Iranian protected areas and species within them yet. Regarding trend of climate change in this country, such assessments would provide useful information for better management of biodiversity under future climate change in this country.

In this study, we applied the climate velocity metric to evaluate the vulnerability of the protected areas in central Iran to climate change. Climate Chance velocity analysis was conducted using algorithms introduced by Hamman et al (2015). velocity calculations were done for the whole study landscape and then were limited to the extent of protected areas as mean values. The most vulnerable protected areas were those having high rate of climate velocity. Because, the species within them have to traverse longer distance in search of the suitable climate conditions in future.


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