Advanced modeling of the biological effects of climate change and land use planning in California



University of California, Santa Barbara




Climate change is causing shifts in species’ ranges and the timing of biological events worldwide. These biological events coupled with extensive physical alterations form part of the evidence base for human‐induced climate change. These changes cause fundamental challenges to biological systems that affect conservation and management systems, posing threats including changes in fire regimes and extinction risk. A new generation of research tools is emerging to help improve the understanding of these threats and how to handle them. Researchers are developing tools to better understand system dynamics and the possible effects of micro‐climates and fine‐scale changes. These tools represent significant advances over first‐generation climate change biology models, which were generally static and coarse scale (tens to hundreds of kilometers). This report summarized progress made in developing three new types of tools for dynamic and fine‐scale biological modeling. Fine‐scale models were developed on scales of tens of meters for the first time for California plant species. These models were tested against models at scales of hundreds of meters and kilometers and significant differences were detected. A conservation planning tool known as Network Flow analysis was refined to run using large numbers of species, allowing identification of important conservation areas taking into consideration more than 1,000 native California plant species. A dynamic modeling tool called BioMove was further enhanced to simulate California fire regimes. These advances helped provide tools for California’s conservationists and land managers to plan for climate change. They were made publicly available on a website, allowing easy access for professionals wishing to learn how to use them or to access the thousands of plant species distribution models that were prepared for use with these tools. This is a state-funded research study sponsored by the California Energy Commission.

Climate Impact Tags

Adaptation Planning Guide Phases

Phase 2: Assess Vulnerability

Resource Type Tags

Assessment Data and tools Scientific study


Extent: California


Last updated: Nov. 27, 2022