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Northeastern boreal forests are an important habitat type for many wildlife species, including migratory birds and moose. These animals play vital roles in the boreal forest ecosystem, are a source of pleasure for bird and wildlife watchers, and contribute to tourism revenue for many communities. However, moose and migratory birds are thought to be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. For example, in New York’s Adirondack Park system, five species of boreal birds have shown occupancy declines of 15% or more. Meanwhile, moose are threatened by winter ticks that thrive in warmer climates and spread disease. A 2018 New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) report found that there...
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Inland fish populations are a crucial resource to humans and communities around the world. Recreational fishing throughout the United States, for example, provides important revenue to local and state economies; globally, inland fisheries are a vital food source for billions of people. Warming temperatures and changing precipitation patterns, however, are already causing significant changes to fish communities worldwide. Since the mid-1980s, scientists have projected the effects of climate change on inland fish, and in more recent years, documentation of impacts has increased. However, the number of documented impacts of climate change on inland fish remains low. A comprehensive understanding of how climate change...
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As our world changes and communities are faced with uncertain future climate conditions, decision making and resource planning efforts can often no longer rely on historic scientific data alone. Scientific projections of what might be expected in the future are increasingly needed across the country and around the world. Scientists and researchers can develop these projections by using computer models to simulate complex elements of our climate and their interactions with ecosystems, wildlife, and biodiversity. While an extensive array of general circulation models (GCMs, climate models of the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean) exist, there is currently a lack of global biodiversity models. This project...
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As resource managers, policy makers, and citizens grapple with the effects of climate change, the demand for more usable or “actionable” science has increased. One promising approach to developing scientific information that can be easily and readily applied to management and policy decisions is to have scientists and decision makers work together to produce information. This approach, often referred to as the “co-production of knowledge”, integrates the background, experience, and know-how of each group to develop the scientific information that will be most useful to society. This project will test an approach to knowledge co-production by introducing a trained social scientist to a co-produced drought-related...
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The USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) is currently engaged in an Ecological Drought initiative, focused on understanding the impacts of drought on natural ecosystems across the country. This project was designed to support the Ecological Drought initiative by creating a USGS EcoDrought Actionable Science Working Group. The goal of this working group was to identify science needs for drought-related decisions and to provide natural resource managers with practical strategies for adapting to and planning for drought. The working group engaged social scientists to garner advice on relevant social science research questions and data needs, as well as to identify any regulatory, institutional,...
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There have been increasing concerns regarding the decline in moose numbers along the southern range of their North American distribution. This has prompted varied research efforts to determine the factors contributing to the reduced local populations. Although heat stress from increasing temperatures could be a potential factor for declining populations in Minnesota, temperature increases have also occurred in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut where populations have been expanding in recent years. Alternatively, indirect climate effects from warmer temperatures may be playing a role, such as increased prevalence of parasites (e.g., brainworm, winter tick) to levels lethal to moose. Additionally, factors such...
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Natural resource managers face uncertainties of many kinds, with limited budgets and ever-evolving hierarchies of management priorities. Not least among those uncertainties are questions regarding future climate conditions. Technological advancements have enhanced our ability to understand and model climate, which has led to improved climate forecasting capabilities. However, climate projections are usually produced at a global scale, which makes them impractical for natural resource managers who are concerned with how climate will change in the specific location or region in which they operate. While there have been a growing number of techniques for increasing the resolution of these projections, resource managers...
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Inland fisheries are critical for global food security and human well-being. However, fish production may be threatened by changes in climate and land use. Understanding this threat is crucial to effectively manage inland fisheries in the future. To address this need, this project will identify which types of lakes across the globe are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate and land use changes. Lakes will be categorized based on their depth, vulnerability to food insecurity, and vulnerability to water insecurity – variables which can all influence how detrimental climate and land use change will actually be on a lake. This information will be used to predict how inland fisheries production might change under...
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The stream systems of Hawai‘i are unique and home to many rare species, including five native fish and five native shellfish. These native species have amphidromous life cycles, meaning that they spend part of their lives in the ocean and part in freshwater streams. Stream flow serves as a vital natural pathway, connecting saltwater and freshwater habitats so that these animals can migrate between them and carry out critical life stages (e.g., development, reproduction). Over the last 20 years, the amount of rainfall in Hawai‘i has decreased, and climate models predict that this trend will continue. It is uncertain how reduced rainfall will affect stream flow and, consequently, the native stream species that depend...
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Walleye, a socially and economically important sportfish across much of North America, are experiencing population declines in many lakes throughout their range. Studies suggest that multiple factors – potentially linked to climate change – are contributing to the decline of walleye, including changes in lake temperatures, loss of habitat, increasing water clarity (perhaps due to drought), and interactions with other fish. This research seeks to identify the mechanisms that underlie declining walleye populations, particularly the low survival rate of young walleye. Data will be collected through a whole-lake experiment, an analysis of long-term data from lakes in northern Wisconsin, and simulation modeling. Members...
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Assessing the vulnerability of wildlife species to a changing climate is critical for understanding what adaptation actions need to be taken to minimize negative impacts. The ability of species to adapt to the impacts of climate change (i.e., their adaptive capacity) is an important factor to consider when assessing vulnerability. For example, organisms can possess traits that allow them to move to areas of favorable habitat or change their phenotypes (observable characteristics) in response to changing environmental conditions. Additionally, an organism’s traits can adapt to a changing external environment over multiple generations through evolutionary processes. Recent scientific evidence suggests that “evolutionary...
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Migratory birds play a crucial role in many ecosystems (e.g. as pollinators and insect regulators) and are also valued by many bird watchers throughout the country and world. Effective conservation of migratory birds depends on a clear understanding of how environmental factors affect key demographic rates (e.g., survival and reproduction). This informational need is especially pressing in the context of climate change. Climate change is expected to affect migratory bird habitat and populations in multiple ways, and a mechanistic understanding of how demographic rates are related to climate variables will help land and resource managers to better anticipate and manage these changes. The Institute for Bird Populations...


    map background search result map search result map Can Evolution Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change? Exploring Evolutionary Adaptive Capacity (EVAC) and Bridging the Gap between Science and Management Assessing the Impact of Future Climate on Hawai‘i’s Aquatic Ecosystems Evaluating Future Effects of Climate and Land Use on Fisheries Production in Inland Lakes Safe Operating Space for Walleye: Understanding the Conditions Needed to Sustain Recreational Fisheries in a Changing World Global Analysis of Trends in Projected and Documented Effects of Climate Change on Inland Fish Producing Usable Science: Testing the Effectiveness of Stakeholder Engagement in Climate Research Eco-drought Actionable Science Working Group Providing Natural Resource Managers with Guidance on the Application of Climate Information for Decision-Making Climate Change Impacts to Migratory Birds: Development of a Climate-informed Integrated Population Model Integrating Climate Change Research and Planning to Inform Wildlife Conservation in the Boreal Forests of the Northeastern U.S. Workshops and Collaborations to Improve Biodiversity and Climate Modeling Moose Health in a Changing Environment Integrating Climate Change Research and Planning to Inform Wildlife Conservation in the Boreal Forests of the Northeastern U.S. Assessing the Impact of Future Climate on Hawai‘i’s Aquatic Ecosystems Safe Operating Space for Walleye: Understanding the Conditions Needed to Sustain Recreational Fisheries in a Changing World Producing Usable Science: Testing the Effectiveness of Stakeholder Engagement in Climate Research Moose Health in a Changing Environment Can Evolution Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change? Exploring Evolutionary Adaptive Capacity (EVAC) and Bridging the Gap between Science and Management Evaluating Future Effects of Climate and Land Use on Fisheries Production in Inland Lakes Eco-drought Actionable Science Working Group Providing Natural Resource Managers with Guidance on the Application of Climate Information for Decision-Making Climate Change Impacts to Migratory Birds: Development of a Climate-informed Integrated Population Model Global Analysis of Trends in Projected and Documented Effects of Climate Change on Inland Fish Workshops and Collaborations to Improve Biodiversity and Climate Modeling