Hotspots and ecoregion vulnerability driven by climate change velocity in Southern South America

Taryn Fuentes-Castillo*, H. Jaime Hernández, Patricio Pliscoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Any conservation strategy must deal with the uncertainty caused by anthropogenic climate change. In order to forecast such changes, the climate change velocity approach has been used to measure ecosystem exposure to this phenomenon. The Tropical Andes and the Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests (Central Chile) hotspots are priority for conservation due to their high species richness and threats, where climate change is one of the serious pressures to their ecosystems. Even though previous studies have forecasted future climate velocity patterns across the globe, these biodiversity hotspots lack a regional evaluation of the vulnerability to climate change to inform conservation decisions. In this study, we evaluated the vulnerability of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change velocity at the Southern South America ecoregional system, by using regional climatic data that improves the accuracy of predictions. We estimated forward and backward velocities for temperature and precipitation, and we performed a protected area-level analysis of climate change vulnerability. Also, we compared our results with previous evaluations. We found that forward velocity was higher in the Tropical Andes hotspot for both climatic variables analyzed, whereas backward velocity was higher in the Central Chile hotspot considering just the temperature variable. Finally, we found that in the Central Chile hotspot, smaller protected areas are more vulnerable to climate change as measured by climate change velocity, whereas in the Tropical Andes hotspot, larger protected areas are more vulnerable. Several rapid change areas are expected along the two hotspots. These findings have important conservation implications in the region, especially for the protected areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Biodiversity hotspots
  • Central Chile
  • Climate change velocity
  • Ecosystem vulnerability
  • Tropical Andes


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