Species responding differently to climate change form ‘transient communities’, communities with constantly changing species composition due to colonization and extinction events. Our goal is to disentangle the mechanisms of response to climate change for terrestrial species in these transient communities and explore the consequences for biodiversity conservation. We review spatial escape and local adaptation of species dealing with climate change from evolutionary and ecological perspectives. From these we derive species vulnerability and management options to mitigate effects of climate change. From the perspective of transient communities, conservation management should scale up static single species approaches and focus on community dynamics and species interdependency, while considering species vulnerability and their importance for the community. Spatially explicit and frequent monitoring is vital for assessing the change in communities and distribution of species. We review management options such as: increasing connectivity and landscape resilience, assisted colonization, and species protection priority in the context of transient communities.