Anthony J. Richardson (1,2), Chris J. Brown (3), Michael T. Burrows (4), Simon Ferrier (5), Tom Harwood (5), Carissa J. Klein (6), Jorge Garcia-‐Molinos (7), Eve McDonald-‐Madden (6,8), Pippa Moore (9,10), John Pandolfi (11), Elvira S. Poloczanska (1,12), Dave Schoeman (13), James Watson (14)
1 CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, Ecosciences Precinct, Boggo Road, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia.
2 Centre for Applications in Natural Resource Mathematics (CARM), School of Mathematics and Physics, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia
3 The Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
4 Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK
5 CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
6 Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
7 Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies, National Institute for Environmental Studies, 16-‐2 Onogawa, Tsukuba,
Ibaraki 305-‐8506, Japan
8 CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park, Queensland, Australia
9 Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth SY23 3DA, UK
10 Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, Edith Cowan University, Perth 6027, Australia.
11 School of Biological Sciences, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
12 The Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
13 School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland 4558, Australia
14 School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Climate change is one of the largest threats to biodiversity this century. Understanding how species, communities and ecosystems will be reorganised under a warmer climate will need to inform effective conservation and management options. Predictions about distribution shifts from complex models require extensive knowledge of individual species and have high uncertainty. Simple metrics offer the prospect of broader utility. One such simple approach is the velocity of climate change – the local speed and direction of shifting climate isotherms. This represents the expectation of how a species’ distribution would have to shift to track the location of their thermal niche. Here we review the literature on the velocity of climate change, what it has been used for, its underlying assumptions, the strengths and weaknesses of the approach, and the time and space scales it might best be applied over. We also contrast the velocity of climate change with other approaches such as species distribution models and climate analogues. We then use this information to discuss various ways that it could be used in conservation applications, concluding that it offers considerable potential in this field. It is hoped that this review will stimulate new applications of velocity in climate change ecology and conservation research.