USGS - science for a changing world

Person

Daniel Schlaepfer

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Covering 120 million acres across 14 western states and 3 Canadian provinces, sagebrush provides critical habitat for species such as pronghorn, mule deer, and sage-grouse – a species of conservation concern. The future of these and other species is closely tied to the future of sagebrush. Yet this important ecosystem has already been affected by fire, invasive species, land use conversion, and now, climate change. In the western U.S., temperatures are rising and precipitation patterns are changing. However, there is currently a limited ability to anticipate the impacts of climate change on sagebrush. Current methods suffer from a range of weakness that limits the reliability of results. In fact, the current uncertainty...
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Drylands cover 40% of the global terrestrial surface and provide important ecosystem services. While drylands as a whole are expected to increase in extent and aridity in coming decades, temperature and precipitation forecasts vary by latitude and geographic region suggesting different trajectories for tropical, subtropical, and temperate drylands. Uncertainty in the future of tropical and subtropical drylands is well constrained, whereas soil moisture and ecological droughts, which drive vegetation productivity and composition, remain poorly understood in temperate drylands. Here we show that, over the twenty first century, temperate drylands may contract by a third, primarily converting to subtropical drylands,...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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Drylands occur world-wide and are particularly vulnerable to climate change since dryland ecosystems depend directly on soil water availability that may become increasingly limited as temperatures rise. Climate change will both directly impact soil water availability, and also change plant biomass, with resulting indirect feedbacks on soil moisture. Thus, the net impact of direct and indirect climate change effects on soil moisture requires better understanding. We used the ecohydrological simulation model SOILWAT at sites from temperate dryland ecosystems around the globe to disentangle the contributions of direct climate change effects and of additional indirect, climate change-induced changes in vegetation on...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation
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Water cycling and availability exert dominant control over ecological processes and the sustainability of ecosystem services in water - limited ecosystems. Consequently, dryland ecosystems have the potential to be dramatically impacted by hydrologic alterations emerging from global change, notably increasing temperature and altered precipitation patterns. In addition, the possibility of directly manipulating global solar radiation by augmenting stratospheric SO2 is receiving increasing attention as CO2 emissions continue to increase - these manipulations are anticipated to decrease precipitation, a change that may be as influential as temperature increases in dryland ecosystems. We propose to integrate a proven...
Categories: Project
The overall objective of this work is to understand how changing climate and associated ecohydrological conditions will impact the distribution of sagebrush ecosystems over the next century. This study will provide valuable insight into the vulnerability of sagebrush ecosystems to changes in climate, climate variability, and disturbance regime. This work utilizes the best currently available downscaled climate data (Maurer) and builds upon recent published results. Products from this project will provide wildlife managers with the ability to categorize and prioritize areas based on their probability of being capable of supporting sagebrush ecosystems in the future, information that is crucial for upcoming listing...
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