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The Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PI CASC) supports sustainability and climate adaptation in communities across the Pacific Islands by providing natural and cultural resource managers with access to actionable science specific to the region. PI CASC is hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) with consortium partners at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UHH) and the University of Guam (UOG). During the period of 2019 - 2024, the PI CASC consortium will strive to i) build resiliency and sustainability in ecosystems and communities to climate change impacts; ii) strive to develop the best actionable climate science, while maintaining a non-advocacy stance; and iii) apply the elements...
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Frequent, low-intensity wildfires were once widespread across the Southeast US, which led to a reduction in unchecked vegetation growth that provided fuel for high-intensity fires. Both intentional and unintentional fire suppression and land-use changes have reduced many of these wildfires and the fire-adapted habitats in the region over time. This loss of frequent low-intensity wildfires on the landscape also increases the severity of wildfires due to fuel buildup and the encroachment of woody species. The remaining habitats and their native species (many of which are of conservation concern) are now almost completely dependent on prescribed burns for their persistence and survival. Successful application of fire...
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PI-CASC regularly interacts with a diverse and extensive network of stakeholder organizations at federal, territory, state, county, and local levels across the Pacific Region, supporting communication and iterative problem solving between researchers, managers, and decision makers. In addition to these partnerships, PI-CASC has two important ongoing collaborative initiatives. Pacific Islands-Alaska CASC collaboration The PI-AK CASC collaboration is aimed at bringing together scientist and resource managers from the Pacific and Alaska regions to share insights on related climate adaptation challenges in Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) and Icefield-to-Ocean (I2O) ecosystems. Similarities in landscapes and communities in these...
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Landscape-scale conservation of threatened and endangered species is often challenged by multiple, sometimes conflicting, land uses. In Hawaiʻi, efforts to conserve native forests have come into conflict with objectives to sustain non-native game mammals, such as feral pigs, goats, and deer, for subsistence and sport hunting. Maintaining stable or increasing game populations represents one of the greatest obstacles to the recovery of Hawaii’s 425 threatened and endangered plant species. Many endemic Hawaiian species have declined and become endangered as a result of herbivorous non-native game mammals. Meanwhile, other environmental changes, including the spread of invasive grasses and changing precipitation patterns...
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Hawaiʻi is considered a worldwide biodiversity hotspot, with nearly 90 percent of its native plants found nowhere else in the world. However, about half of these native plants are imperiled by threats including human development, non-native species, and climate change. Through this project, scientists modeled the relative vulnerability of over 1,000 native plant species to the effects of climate change. A panel of experts in Hawaiian plant species assisted with the development of the model and verified its results. From the model, researchers were able to develop a vulnerability score for each plant species and identify categories of species with high, medium, and low vulnerability to climate change. This information...
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Changes in stream temperature can have significant impacts on water quality and the health and survival of aquatic fish and wildlife. Water managers, planners, and decision makers are in need of scientific data to help them prepare for and adapt to changes and conserve important resources. Scientists are tasked with ensuring that this data is produced in useful formats and is accessible to these stakeholders. In October 2015, project researchers hosted and facilitated a 1.5 day workshop, “Data Storage, Dissemination and Harvesting”, that brought together over 50 stakeholders from state and federal agencies, tribal governments, universities, and non-profit organizations interested in monitoring stream temperature...
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The Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula rivers in the Arctic are heavily glaciated waterways that are important for fish and wildlife as well as human activities including the provision of food, recreation, and, potentially, resource extraction on the coastal plain. If current glacial melting trends continue, most of the ice in these rivers will disappear in the next 50-100 years. Because of their importance to human and natural communities, it is critical to understand how these rivers and their surrounding environments will be affected by climate change and glacier loss. The overarching goal of this project was to research (1) the amount of river water, sediment, nutrients, and organic matter in the Jago, Okpilak, and...
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For the past few years, “king tides,” or the highest tides of the year, have been occurring more frequently and significantly affecting coastal environments across Hawaiʻi. Now, disappearing beaches and waves crashing over roadways are seemingly the “new normal.” In response, the state of Hawaiʻi is implementing adaptation strategies to combat tidal flooding in coastal areas. While flood management strategies are being implemented in urban areas, less is known about how tidal flooding, and associated inundation into surface and groundwater, might influence watershed dynamics and the native animals that depend on estuarine environments where freshwater meets the sea. Efforts for biocultural restoration of ecosystem...
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Elodea spp. (Elodea) is Alaska’s first known invasive aquatic plant, first discovered in urban lakes in 2010. The combination of human pathways and climate change related shifts in seasonality and temperature have resulted in Elodea’s range expansion into Alaska’s freshwater resources. Elodea transmission often occurs when plant fragments get entangled in seaplane rudders and are carried to remote waterbodies where they quickly establish dense plant growth. This growth inhibits seaplane access and drastically alters aquatic ecosystems. Recent research showed that Elodea can have significant negative impacts on parks, subsistence, aviation‐related recreation, and Alaska’s salmon fisheries. For example, the economic...
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Overview Fishes of the Adirondack Park face numerous challenges. Summer Suckers are the only endemic vertebrate yet have suffered major range reductions, so we are analyzing their genome, body shape, and spawning timing to verify their uniqueness and current range. Warming patterns are expected to shift their spawning earlier, potentially intersecting with their recent ancestor (White Suckers) to create hybridization and reduced reproductive success. Minnows are more diverse in the Adirondacks, and our analyses suggest that they show three major distributional patterns that reflect post-glacial colonization and temperature preferences. We are analyzing data from hundreds of lakes to discern the rules that structure...
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The objective of this project is to map the supply of ecosystem services (where natural ecosystems have the capacity to provide a certain product or service that could be of use to people), use of those services (where people or other entities that use the product or service exist), and the condition of ecosystems providing these services over time. The resulting datasets were used to generate metrics for pilot ecosystem accounts for the southeast – part of natural capital accounts that assess ecosystems’ contributions to the economy in order to help governments better understand their reliance on natural systems and manage natural resources to ensure their benefits are sustained into the future. These data were...
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Fire has always been a part of life in southern California. Climate change and current fire management practices have led to catastrophic losses and impacts to human health, infrastructure and ecosystems, as seen, for example, in the 2018 Montecito debris flow. Indigenous wisdom instructs that rather than suppressing fire, we should seek to be in good relationship with fire. This project centers the voices of Chumash people by revitalizing their good relationship with fire in Chumash homelands. This revitalization comes at a critical time for both fire management and revitalization of Indigenous cultural burning practices in the southwest. The project will enable the recovery and documenting of Chumash knowledge...
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As part of the State Wildlife Grant Fund, states are required to submit State Wildlife Plans (SWAPs) every 10 years detailing threats to habitats and species and conservation plans. However, incorporating climate change in SWAPs is voluntary, and capacity/expertise limitations at state agencies have resulted in varied and often only partial consideration of climate change impacts. In response, the MW CASC will conduct literature reviews to assess climate stressors and impacts to habitats and key species and to identify relevant adaptation actions for 13 different Level 2/3 EPA Ecoregions contained within the MW CASC area states. This work will provide a foundation for future habitat vulnerability assessments. ...
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Cheatgrass began invading the Great Basin about 100 years ago, changing large parts of the landscape from a rich, diverse ecosystem to one where a single invasive species dominates. Cheatgrass dominated areas experience more fires that burn more land than in native ecosystems, resulting in economic and resource losses. Therefore, the reduced production, or absence, of cheatgrass in previously invaded areas during years of adequate precipitation could be seen as a windfall. However, this cheatgrass dieoff phenomenon creates other problems for land managers like accelerated soil erosion, loss of early spring food supply for livestock and wildlife, and unknown recovery pathways. We used satellite data and scientific...
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Maintaining the native prairie lands of the Northern Great Plains (NGP), which provide an important habitat for declining grassland species, requires anticipating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate change on the region’s vegetation. Specifically, climate change threatens NGP grasslands by increasing the potential encroachment of native woody species into areas where they were previously only present in minor numbers. This project used a dynamic vegetation model to simulate vegetation type (grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest) for the NGP for a range of projected future climates and relevant management scenarios. Comparing results of these simulations illustrates...
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Natural resource managers and researchers often need long-term averages of historical and future climate scenarios for their study area yet may not have the resources to make these summaries. This project will provide high quality, detailed maps of historical and projected future climate and hydrologic conditions for California and a finer scale version for southern California. The project will also assess the feasibility of expanding these reference data to the southwestern US and identify the most suitable online data portals for the public to view and analyze the data in support of local initiatives. The map products can be used to assess the impacts of ongoing climate change and to develop climate adaptation...
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In southwestern Colorado, land managers anticipate the impacts of climate change to include higher temperatures, more frequent and prolonged drought, accelerated snowmelt, larger and more intense fires, more extreme storms, and the spread of invasive species. These changes put livelihoods, ecosystems, and species at risk. Focusing on communities in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan and Gunnison river basins, this project will expand opportunities for scientists, land managers, and affected residents to identify actions that can support resilience and adaptation in the face of changing climate conditions. This project builds on the project “Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in southwestern...
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One of the biggest challenges facing resource managers today is not knowing exactly when, where, or how climate change effects will unfold. To help federal land managers address this need, the North Central CASC has been working with the National Park Service to pioneer an approach for incorporating climate science and scenario planning into NPS planning processes, in particular Resource Stewardship Strategies (RSS). These strategies serve as a long-range planning tool for a national park unit to achieve its desired natural and cultural resource conditions, and are used to guide a park’s full spectrum of resource-specific management plans and day-to-day management activities. To support adaptation planning within...
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Climate change is causing an increase in the amount of forested area burned by wildfires in the western U.S. The warm, dry post-fire conditions of the region may limit tree regeneration in some areas, potentially causing a shift to non-forest vegetation. Managers are increasingly challenged by the combined impacts of greater wildfire activity, the significant uncertainty about whether forests will recover, and limited resources for reforestation efforts. Simultaneously, there has been an increased focus on post-fire reforestation efforts as tree planting has become a popular climate change mitigation strategy across the nation. Therefore, with increased interest and need, it is crucial to identify where varying...
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Tribal resource managers in the southwest U.S. are facing a host of challenges related to environmental change, including increasing temperatures, longer periods of drought, and invasive species. These threats are exacerbating the existing challenges of managing complex ecosystems. In a rapidly changing environment, resource managers need powerful tools and the most complete information to make the most effective decisions possible. Traditional Ecological Knowledge has enabled Indigenous peoples to adaptively manage and thrive in diverse environments for thousands of years, yet it is generally underutilized and undervalued, particularly in the context of western scientific approaches. Traditional Ecological...


map background search result map search result map Modeling Effects of Climate Change on Cheatgrass Die-Off Areas in the Northern Great Basin Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions The Impacts of Glacier Change on the Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula Rivers in the Arctic Establishing Climate Change Vulnerability Rankings for Hawaiian Native Plants Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 2 Prioritizing Stream Temperature Data Collection to Meet Stakeholder Needs and Inform Regional Analyses Managing Non-native Game Mammals to Reduce Future Conflicts with Native Plant Conservation in Hawai‘i Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Exploring the Past to Plan for the Future: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Paleoperspectives to Inform Climate Change Adaptation Science to Inform Post-fire Conifer Regeneration and Reforestation Strategies Under Changing Climate Conditions Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center Consortium - Hosted by University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa (2019-2024) Detecting and Predicting Aquatic Invasive Species Transmission Via Seaplanes in Alaska Regional Collaborations Effect of Extreme Tidal Events on Future Sea-Level Rise Scenarios for He‘eia Fish Communities undergoing Ahupua‘a Restoration Development of an Early Warning System to Identify Changing Prescribed Burn Opportunities Across Southeast US Fire-Adapted Habitats Cycles of Renewal: Returning Good Fire to the Chumash Homelands Mapping Ecosystem Services for Natural Capital Accounting State Wildlife Action Planning in the Midwest Adirondack Fish Conservation: Safeguarding Summer Suckers, Understanding Minnow Diversity, Limiting Smallmouth Bass Invasions, Developing Climate-Adapted Stocking Rendering High-Resolution Hydro-Climatic Data for Southern California Refining Guidance for Incorporating Climate Science and Scenario Planning into National Park Service Resource Stewardship Strategies Building Social and Ecological Resilience to Climate Change in Southwestern Colorado: Phase 2 Modeling Effects of Climate Change on Cheatgrass Die-Off Areas in the Northern Great Basin Cycles of Renewal: Returning Good Fire to the Chumash Homelands Establishing Climate Change Vulnerability Rankings for Hawaiian Native Plants The Impacts of Glacier Change on the Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula Rivers in the Arctic Rendering High-Resolution Hydro-Climatic Data for Southern California Exploring the Past to Plan for the Future: Integrating Indigenous Knowledge and Paleoperspectives to Inform Climate Change Adaptation Projecting the Future Encroachment of Woody Vegetation into Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains by Simulating Climate Conditions and Possible Management Actions Science to Inform Post-fire Conifer Regeneration and Reforestation Strategies Under Changing Climate Conditions Effect of Extreme Tidal Events on Future Sea-Level Rise Scenarios for He‘eia Fish Communities undergoing Ahupua‘a Restoration State Wildlife Action Planning in the Midwest Adirondack Fish Conservation: Safeguarding Summer Suckers, Understanding Minnow Diversity, Limiting Smallmouth Bass Invasions, Developing Climate-Adapted Stocking Mapping Ecosystem Services for Natural Capital Accounting Development of an Early Warning System to Identify Changing Prescribed Burn Opportunities Across Southeast US Fire-Adapted Habitats Prioritizing Stream Temperature Data Collection to Meet Stakeholder Needs and Inform Regional Analyses Detecting and Predicting Aquatic Invasive Species Transmission Via Seaplanes in Alaska Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center Consortium - Hosted by University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa (2019-2024) Regional Collaborations