We acquired, federated and curated approximately one million new observations to the Avian Knowledge Network. We used these new observations, in addition to millions of existing records, to model the distribution and abundance of 26 species of land birds in the southern portion of the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NPLCC) region including CA, OR and WA. The models were based on climate and modeled vegetation. Using the models we created maps of the distribution and abundance of each species for current (late 20th century) conditions and projected the models to future conditions (2070) based on five regional climate models. The bird models were also used to create maps of conservation priorities for all species and for species indicative of four different habitat types: conifer forest, oak woodlands, grasslands and riparian forest. We created a web based decision support tool (http://www.avianknowledgenorthwest.net/distributionmodels) and at (http://data.prbo.org/apps/nplcc/) where the results from the project can be viewed, queried and downloaded, including reports of model results for user defined regions.
The tool we developed can be used to support climate change adaptation planning in several ways. The models can be used to assess whether planned projects are likely to meet objectives given projected future changes. Additionally, the models can be used to identify areas of conservation priorities or restoration opportunities which account for a range in plausible future climate conditions. Coupled with regional conservation plans, such as Habitat Conservation for Landbirds in Coniferous Forests of Western Oregon and Washington (http://www.orwapif.org/conservation-plans), models can be used to identify quantifiable habitat objectives for focal bird species. The models can also be used to develop quantitative scenarios to be used for scenario planning exercises.
We anticipate that there may be many further applications of our tool and we plan to continue to work with NPLCC stakeholders to ensure that the tool is used to support conservation planning. We have already presented the results from the project to the NPLCC steering committee and through a webinar sponsored by the NPLCC (http://bit.ly/YCYUfU). We plan to highlight the application of our results in real conservation planning efforts through the website to illustrate how the tool and products can be used and to encourage others to use the tool for their projects.