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Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe. Forest managers are seeking strategies to increase forest resistance (minimizing negative impacts during the drought) and resilience (maximizing recovery rates following drought). Limited experimental evidence suggests that forests with particular structural characteristics have greater capacity to resist change and or recover ecosystem function in the face of drought. However, the applicability of these results to practical forest conservation and management remains unclear. This project utilized an existing network of eight long-term, operational-scale, forest management experiments from Arizona to Maine to examine...
America’s remaining grassland in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is at risk of being lost to crop production. When crop prices are high, like the historically high corn prices that the U.S. experienced between 2008 and 2014, the risk of grassland conversion is even higher. Changing climate will add uncertainties to any efforts toward conservation of grassland in the PPR. Grassland conversion to cropland in the region would imperil nesting waterfowl among other species and further impair water quality in the Mississippi watershed. In this project, we sought to contribute to the understanding of land conversion in the PPR with the aim to better target the use of public and private funds allocated toward incentivizing...
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In many places around the world, spring events, like warming temperatures, are coming earlier and fall events are coming later than they have in the past. These changes have implications for the phenology, or the timing of natural life events (e.g. the timing of plant flowering in Spring or leaves falling in Autumn), of many plant species. However, not all species and regions are changing at the same rate, which can lead to mismatches (e.g. between the emergence of plants and pollinators in early spring). Many interactions in nature depend on timing and, as such, phenology affects nearly all aspects of the environment, including the abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms, ecosystem services, food webs,...
The USGS National Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCASC) is currently engaged in an Ecological Drought initiative, focused on understanding the impacts of drought on natural ecosystems across the country. This project supported the Ecological Drought initiative by creating an Intermountain West Drought Social Science Synthesis Working Group. The goal of this working group was to investigate human dimensions of ecological drought across the intermountain west from a comparative, regional perspective. Throughout the Intermountain West, there has been significant investment in understanding how social factors influence manager and citizen experiences of drought in particular locations. Yet there is still a gap in...
The North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (NC CASC) partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Conservation Science Partners, Inc. (CSP) to systematically identify information gaps that, if addressed, would support management decisions for key species, habitats, or other issues within the North Central region (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas). In particular, we were interested in the intersection between 1) high-priority species or habitats that are 2) the subject of a planned decision, and for which 3) climate information would aid decision-making for state and federal agencies. In Spring of 2018, we interviewed state fish and wildlife managers...
Southwestern Colorado is already experiencing the effects of climate change in the form of larger and more severe wildfires, prolonged severe droughts, tree mortality from insect outbreaks, and earlier snowmelt. Climate scientists expect the region to experience more frequent summer heat waves, longer-lasting and more frequent droughts, and decreased river flow in the future (Lukas et al. 2014). These changes will ultimately impact local communities and challenge natural resource managers in allocating water and range for livestock grazing under unpredictable drought conditions, managing forests in the face of changing fire regimes, and managing threatened species under shifting ecological conditions. Considering...
The “Reconnecting Floodplains and Restoring Green Space as a Management Strategy to Minimize Risk and Increase Resilience in the Context of Climate and Landscape Change” project explores green infrastructure opportunities to manage flows, connections, and watersheds in order to improve both flood protection and ecosystem services. This project’s research specifically investigates how restoring floodplains would impact human welfare and environmental conservation. Its research objectives are addressed in two parts: 1) developing a hydraulic model to illustrate how changes in floodplain management may impact flooding along the Connecticut River, and 2) developing a geo-spatial model that demonstrates the distribution...
The NE CASC boasts an interdisciplinary array of scientists, from ecologists to biologists, hydrologists to climatologists, each contributing new, original academic research to advance our understanding of the impacts of climate change on wildlife and other natural resources in the Northeast. Needed was an outreach specialist who would interface directly with the management agencies who benefited from this research to aid the integration of this research into their management planning as part of adapting to climate change. A climatologist was preferred to address queries about climate modeling, climate change uncertainties, and other areas of climate science outside the expertise of NE CASC ecologists, biologists,...
Natural resource managers face the need to develop strategies to adapt to projected future climates. Few existing climate adaptation frameworks prescribe where to place management actions to be most effective under anticipated future climate conditions. We developed an approach to spatially allocate climate adaptation actions and applied the method to whitebark pine (WBP; Pinus albicaulis) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). WBP is expected to be vulnerable to climate-mediated shifts in suitable habitat, pests, pathogens, and fire. We worked with a team of biologists and managers to identify management actions aimed at mitigating climate impacts to WBP. Identified actions were spatially allocated across...
As part of a broader effort to increase the ability of federal agencies to understand and adapt to changes in climate variability and hazard profiles, the Colorado Bureau of Land Management has commissioned an on-going research effort to gather and analyze information on the potential climate-related vulnerabilities of the numerous communities and businesses that rely upon the state’s 8.4 million acres of BLM-managed public lands. This report contains the initial findings of this project, and details work conducted between 2015 and 2017 centered around three main questions: 1. What efforts are currently underway within the Colorado BLM to address changes in climate and the climate vulnerabilities of public land...
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Native Americans throughout the Southwest are vulnerable to climate change due to intimate relationships with the environments and landscapes upon which their cultures, traditions, and livelihoods depend. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) in Nevada is profoundly connected physically, culturally, and spiritually to Pyramid Lake, the endangered cui-­ui fish, and the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout. While the tribe has adapted to non-­climatic stressors over the past century, climate change impacts to water resources pose a threat to the ecosystems and species of fish so deeply important to the PLPT. Our previous research indicates that PLPT is an exemplary leader in adaptive planning, given that tribal members...
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In the southwestern United States, droughts of 10 or more years are projected to become more frequent by 2100. It also is projected that there will be fewer wet days per year, with more precipitation falling on those wet days. Such climatic extremes can strongly affect wild animals and plants, ecosystems, and humans. In the Southwest, more frequent and intense storms may negatively affect protected species in coastal salt marshes; changes in the timing and amount of precipitation could lead to increases in fuel loads; and increasingly humid heat waves could lead to higher incidence of heat-related illness among visitors to national parks. This project will improve understanding of climate extremes and their potential...
The Colorado office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which administers 8.4 million acres of Colorado’s surface acres, and more than 29 million acres of sub‐surface mineral estate, has been charged with developing a climate adaptation strategy for BLM lands within the state. The assessments presented herein present a statewide perspective on the potential future influences of a changing climate on species and ecosystems of particular importance to the BLM, with the goal of facilitating development of the best possible climate adaptation strategies to meet future conditions. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program conducted climate change vulnerability assessments of plant and animal species, and terrestrial...
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Strong indicators of species’ sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and overall vulnerability to climate change are provided by changes in phenology, the timing of recurring life events (Parmesan and Yohe, 2003). We possess poor information on climate induced shifts in phenology of marine organisms, especially top predators. The Gulf of Maine (GOM) Seasonal Migrants Project is an ongoing effort to determine the phenological changes occurring in the GOM across marine mammals, sea turtles, and other marine species of conservation concern. As part of that study, stranding data of injured or dead animals was explored for its utility to serve as supplemental data to amend more traditional survey data where observations are...
Changing climate conditions can make water management planning and drought preparedness decisions more complicated than ever before. Federal and State natural resource managers can no longer rely solely on historical trends as a baseline and thus are in need of science that is relevant to their specific needs to inform important planning decisions. Questions remain, however, regarding the most effective and efficient methods for extending scientific knowledge and products into management and decision-making. This project analyzed two unique cases of water management to better understand how science can be translated into resource management actions and decision-making, focusing particularly on how the context of...


    map background search result map search result map Improving Understanding of Climate Extremes in the Southwestern United States Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Traditional Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation Understanding Changes to the Timing of Natural Events (Phenology) for Plants in the Water-Limited Southwest Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Traditional Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation Improving Understanding of Climate Extremes in the Southwestern United States Understanding Changes to the Timing of Natural Events (Phenology) for Plants in the Water-Limited Southwest