Climate refugia: Detecting and predicting change

Identifying ecosystems resilient to climate change is recognized as essential for conservation strategies. However, wetland ecosystems may respond differently to stressors depending on the strength of ecohydrological feedbacks, resulting in fluctuations in habitat availability and suitability. Therefore, our ability to detect and predict spatiotemporal changes in climate refugia will be instrumental in guiding management decisions and informing policy.

Collaborative research projects quantify and assess resilience of wildlife habitats such as those used for reproduction, overwintering, and migration. A key objective is understanding the resilience of reproductive and overwintering reptile habitat to increased spatiotemporal variability in flooding, drought, and wildfire.

Quantifying relationships between measures of reptile health and environmental conditions are necessary to understanding ecosystem and population response to multiple stressors. For this work, we use multidisciplinary techniques to monitor reptile reproductive success and winter survival in response to changes in soil moisture, soil/water temperature, and water chemistry parameters.

My research is currently working to develop new tools to detect and predict changes in wildlife climate refugia. Especially in near-northern regions, new tools can be used to guide management decisions and inform policy on threatened reptiles and landscapes.

Selected publications:

Markle, C.E., North, T., Harris. L.I., Moore, P.A., & J.M. Waddington. 2020. Spatial heterogeneity of surface topography in peatlands: assessing overwinter habitat availability for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. Wetlands. doi:10.1007/s13157-020-01378-2.

Markle, C.E., Wilkinson, S.L., & J.M. Waddington. 2020. Initial effects of wildfire on freshwater turtle nesting habitat. Journal of Wildlife Management. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21921.

Markle, C.E., Moore, P.A., & J.M. Waddington. 2020. Primary drivers of reptile overwintering habitat suitability: Integrating wetland ecohydrology and spatial complexity. BioScience. doi:10.1093.biosci/biaa059.

Markle, C.E., Moore, P.A., & J.M. Waddington. 2020. Temporal variability of overwintering conditions for a species-at-risk snake: Implications for climate change and habitat management. Global Ecology and Conservation. 22:e00923.

Markle, C.E., Chow-Fraser, G., & P. Chow-Fraser. 2018. Long-term habitat changes in a protected area: Implications for herpetofauna habitat management and restoration. PLoS ONE 13(2):e0192134.

Markle, C.E. & P. Chow-Fraser. 2018. Effects of European Common Reed on Blanding’s Turtle Spatial Ecology. Journal of Wildlife Management. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21 435.

Smolarz, A.G., Moore, P.A., Markle, C.E., & J.M. Waddington. 2018. Identifying resilient eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) peatland hummock hibernacula. Canadian Journal of Zoology. doi:10.1139/cjz-2017-0334.

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