Climate change is shifting the ranges of species. Simple predictive metrics of range shifts such as climate velocity*, that do not require extensive knowledge or data on individual species, could help to guide conservation.
This paper reviews existing research on climate velocity, describing the theory underpinning the concept and its assumptions.
The authors highlight how climate velocity has already been applied in conservation-related research and state that climate velocity is providing information about climate change that is relevant for conservation, including the study of protected areas, novel and/or disappearing climates, rates of endemism, and range shifts.
The authors suggest that to better inform conservation, climate velocity can be tailored to be more biologically meaningful through the addition of dispersal capabilities, physiological tolerance, and potential routes of movement of species.
It is underlined that there is an untapped potential for using climate velocity and climate-velocity trajectories in informing the design of protected areas and their networks, conserving ocean biodiversity in 3D, and in informing conservation actions.
Additionally, a statistical package (R package vocc, https://github.com/cbrown5/vocc) is introduced in this paper. This package, freely available, can be used for calculating local climate velocity and will thus make the use of climate velocity more accessible, and stimulate further applications, especially by conservation practitioners.
*A simple metric that describes the speed and direction of climate movement at any point in space.
Brito-Morales et al. (2018) Climate velocity can inform conservation in a warming world. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 33:441-457.