From Justine E. Hausheer, science writer for The Nature Conservancy:

Climate change is scrambling habitats and shifting home ranges across the globe. When faced with these enormous changes, conservationists might need to rely on the foundation of ecology itself — geodiversity — to plan for the future.

Geodiversity As Strategy for Conservation

Old-school conservation identifies places to protect by looking at the locations of key species or ecosystems. Spotted owls need old-growth trees in the Pacific northwest rainforest, while giant pandas need vast tracts of montane bamboo.

But this tactic is being challenged by a world in flux, where the locations we protect today could look entirely different in a few hundred years. One answer to this dilemma is to use geodiversity as a filter for conservation planning.

“Geodiversity is comprised of different types of soil, topography, landforms, and bedrock,” says Mark Anderson, The Nature Conservancy’s director of conservation for the eastern United States division. “It drives the patterns of biodiversity.”

Compiling the Evidence

Nature Conservancy scientists are making the case for conserving nature’s stage. Joined by leading researchers — including Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University and Malcolm Hunter of the University of Maine — they explore how this strategy can be applied to current conservation efforts in a recent special issue of Conservation Biology.

Scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society created the first global map of geodiversity types, and then estimated how much of each of those 672 types are already protected. They recommend that future conservation efforts should focus on the least protected types, including both low-elevation environments and geology and soils that are the most productive for agriculture.

Continue reading on the Science Blog of The Nature Conservancy: http://blog.nature.org/science/2015/06/16/conserving-natures-stage-....

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