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Landscape Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 637–654 | Cite as

A landscape vulnerability framework for identifying integrated conservation and adaptation pathways to climate change: the case of Madagascar’s spiny forest

  • Malika Virah-Sawmy
  • Lindsey Gillson
  • Charlie J. Gardner
  • Atholl Anderson
  • Geoffrey Clark
  • Simon Haberle
Research Article

Abstract

Context

Integrated conservation decision-making frameworks that help to design or adjust practices that are cognisant of environmental change and adaptation are urgently needed.

Objective

We demonstrate how a landscape vulnerability framework combining sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and exposure to climate change framed along two main axes of concern can help to identify potential strategies for conservation and adaptation decision-making, using a landscape in Madagascar’s spiny forest as a case-study.

Methods

To apply such a vulnerability landscape assessment, we inferred the sensitivity of habitats using temporal and spatial botanical data-sets, including the use of fossil pollen data and vegetation surveys. For understanding adaptive capacity, we analysed existing spatial maps (reflecting anthropogenic stressors) showing the degree of habitat connectivity, matrix quality and protected area coverage for the different habitats in the landscape. Lastly, for understanding exposures, we used climate change predictions in Madagascar, together with a digital elevation model.

Results

The fossil pollen data showed how sensitive arid-adapted species were to past climate changes, especially the conditions between 1000 and 500 cal yr BP. The spatial analysis then helped locate habitats on the two-dimensional axes of concern integrating sensitivity, adaptive capacity and climate change exposure. By identifying resistant, resilient, susceptible, and sensitive habitats to climate change in the landscape under study, we identify very different approaches to integrate conservation and adaptation strategies in contrasting habitats.

Conclusion

This framework, illustrated through a case study, provides easy guidance for identifying potential integrated conservation and adaptation strategies, taking into account aspects of climate vulnerability and conservation capacity.

Keywords

Adaptive capacity Climate change conservation strategies Landscape history Plant extinction Resilience Sensitivity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The funding for the palaeoecological study is derived from an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant held by Haberle (DP 0986991). Fieldwork for the palaeoecological study was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Atholl Anderson and Dr Geoff Clark with staff from the Museum in Antananarivo (Chantal Radimilahy and Ramilison Lalaina). Special thanks to Aurelie Shapiro for her help with the spatial layers.

Supplementary material

10980_2015_269_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (313 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 313 kb)
10980_2015_269_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (208 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 207 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malika Virah-Sawmy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Lindsey Gillson
    • 1
  • Charlie J. Gardner
    • 4
  • Atholl Anderson
    • 5
  • Geoffrey Clark
    • 5
  • Simon Haberle
    • 5
  1. 1.Plant Conservation Unit, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Luc Hoffmann Institutec/o WWF International, GlandGlandSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Environmental Studies, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and ConservationUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  5. 5.Department of Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture, History and Language College of Asia and the PacificThe Australian National UniversityActonAustralia

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