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The goal of this project is to inform implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) Whitebark Pine (WBP) subcommittee’s “WBP Strategy” based on climate science and ecological forecasting. Project objectives are to: 1. Forecast ecosystem processes and WBP habitat suitability across the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) under alternative IPCC future scenarios; 2. Improve understanding of possible response to future climate by analyzing WBP/climate relationships in past millennia; 3. Develop WBP management alternatives; 4. Evaluate the alternatives under IPCC future scenarios in terms of WBP goals, ecosystem services, and costs of implementation; and 5. Draw recommendations for implementation...
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Changing climate conditions such as increasing droughts, floods, and wildfires, hotter temperatures, declining snowpacks, and changes in the timing of seasonal events are already having an impact on wildlife and their habitats. In order to make forward-looking management decisions that consider ongoing and future projected changes in climate, managers require access to climate information that can be easily integrated into the planning process. Co-production, a process whereby scientists work closely with managers to identify and fill knowledge gaps, is an effective means of ensuring that science results will be directly useful to managers. Through a multi-phase project, researchers are implementing co-production...
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Appropriate ecological indicators of climate change can be used to measure concurrent changes in ecological systems, inform management decisions, and potentially to project the consequences of climate change. However, many of the available indicators for North American birds do not account for imperfect observation. We propose to use correlated-detection occupancy models to develop indicators from the North American Breeding Bird Survey data. The indicators will be used to test hypotheses regarding changes in range and distribution of breeding birds. The results will support the Northeast Climate Science Center’s Science Agenda, including the science priority: researching ecological vulnerability and species response...
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Determining which species, habitats, or ecosystems are most vulnerable to climate change enables resource managers to better set priorities for conservation action. To address the need for information on vulnerability, this research project will leverage the expertise of university partners to inform the North Central Climate Science Center on how to best assess the vulnerability of elements of biodiversity to climate and land use change in order to inform the development and implementation of management options. Outcomes from this activity will include 1) a framework for modeling vegetation type and species response to climate and land use change, 2) an evaluation of existing alternative vegetation and species...
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Forests are of tremendous ecological and economic importance. They provide natural places for recreation, clean drinking water, and important habitats for fish and wildlife. However, the warmer temperatures and harsher droughts in the west that are related to climate change are causing die-offs of many trees. Outbreaks of insects, like the mountain pine beetle, that kill trees are also more likely in warmer, drier conditions. To maintain healthy and functioning forest ecosystems, one action forest managers can take is to make management decisions that will help forests adapt to future climate change. However, adaptation is a process based on genetic change and few tools are currently available for managers to use...
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Sport fisheries of lakes are embedded in complex system of ecological and social interactions. The multiple drivers that affect lake sport fisheries, along with the complex interactions within lakes, make it difficult to forecast changes in sport fisheries and plan adaptive responses to build resilience of these important resources. Resilience involves managing with an eye toward critical thresholds for behavior of ecosystems. Project researchers are working to develop quantitative tools for assessment of thresholds in sport fisheries that can be used by management agencies to evaluate potential impacts of climate change mediated through species and habitat interactions. Several outputs of the project will be adaptable...
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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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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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There are approximately 2,000 species of migratory birds worldwide, and over 300 of those can be found in North America. Changing climate conditions pose challenges for many migratory birds and their responses to these challenges can depend on their biology. To illustrate these impacts, a board game, called Migration Mismatch, was developed to help elementary school students understand these challenges. Migration Mismatch can help students build their understanding of biological processes and how species, birds in this case, interact with their environment. The game provides an interactive element to learning about adaptations of different bird species to environmental changes and provides a link to birds they may...
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The Southeastern U.S. spans broad ranges of physiographic settings and contains a wide variety of aquatic systems that provide habitat for hundreds of endemic aquatic species that pose interesting challenges and opportunities for managers of aquatic resources, particularly in the face of climate change. For example, the Southeast contains the southernmost populations of the eastern brook trout and other cold-water dependent species. Climate change is predicted to increase temperatures in the South and is likely to have a substantial effect on extant populations of cold-water biota. Thus, aquatic managers are tasked with developing strategies for preserving cold-water dependent biota, such as eastern brook trout,...
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Climate change influences apex predators in complex ways, due to their important trophic position, capacity for resource plasticity, and sensitivity to numerous anthropogenic stressors. Bald eagles, an ecologically and culturally significant apex predator, congregate seasonally in high densities on salmon spawning rivers across the Pacific Northwest. One of the largest eagle concentrations is in the Skagit River watershed, which connects the montane wilderness of North Cascades National Park to the Puget Sound. Using multiple long-term datasets, we evaluated the relationship between local bald eagle abundance, chum and coho salmon availability and phenology, and the number and timing of flood events in the Skagit...
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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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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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Researchers with the North Central Climate Science Center have made substantial progress in assessing the impacts of climate and land use change on wildlife and ecosystems across the region. Building on this progress, researchers will work with stakeholders to identify adaptation strategies and inform resource management in the areas that will be most affected by changing conditions. There are several components of this project. First, researchers will use the Department of Interior “resource briefs” as a mechanism to communicate information to resource managers on climate and land use change and their impacts to resources. These briefs will support coordinated management of ecosystems that contain public, private,...
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Although climate change is an important factor affecting fish globally, a comprehensive database of how climate change has impacted and will continue to impact inland fishes worldwide does not currently exist. We are conducting an extensive, systematic primary literature review to identify English-language, peer-reviewed journal publications with projected and documented examples of climate change impacts on inland fishes globally. From this standardized database of existing literature, we can examine global patterns in climate change impacts on inland fish. Following a decision path based on knowledge of how climate has been documented to affect fish biology in five main response categories (phenology, distribution,...
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Landscape-scale conservation of threatened and endangered species is often challenged by multiple, sometimes conflicting, land uses. In Hawaiʿi, 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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Road crossings at rivers and streams can create barriers to the movement of migratory fish when they are improperly designed or constructed. Washington State is home to several threatened species of salmon and trout, including bull trout, and recovery plans for these fish include repairing or replacing culverts that currently block their passage. The state is currently looking to replace approximately 1,000 culverts at an estimated cost of $2.45 billion. As engineers re-design these culverts, which typically have a service life of 50-100 years, it will be important to consider how changing climate conditions will impact streams in the region. Climate change is projected to increase peak streamflows, and therefore...
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Throughout its native range in the Eastern U.S., the brook trout is a culturally and economically important species that is sensitive to warming stream temperatures and habitat degradation. The purpose of this assessment was to determine the impacts that projected future land use and climate changes might have on the condition of stream habitat to support self-sustaining brook trout populations. The study region encompassed the historic native range of brook trout, which includes the northeastern states and follows the Appalachian Mountains south to Georgia, where the distribution is limited to higher elevation streams with suitable water temperatures. Relationships between recent observations of brook trout and...
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The distribution and abundance of cheatgrass, an invasive annual grass native to Eurasia, has increased substantially across the Intermountain West, including the Great Basin. Cheatgrass is highly flammable, and as it has expanded, the extent and frequency of fire in the Great Basin has increased by as much as 200%. These changes in fire regimes are associated with loss of the native sagebrush, grasses, and herbaceous flowering plants that provide habitat for many native animals, including Greater Sage-Grouse. Changes in vegetation and fire management have been suggested with the intent of conserving Greater Sage-Grouse. However, the potential responses of other sensitive-status birds to these changes in management...
Abstract: A significant number of historically existing wetlands that naturally stored rainwater and attenuated flood peaks have now been drained and employed as new farming areas. Beyond the water quality and flow problem, this has resulted in loss of natural habitats of diverse ecological species. Restoring wetlands have hence been proposed as a potential conservation strategy to help attenuate many of these problems. In this study a spatial, multi-objective optimization study of new potential wetlands was carried out to achieve biodiversity improvements in addition to flood reduction benefits and water quality improvements. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to simulate flow and water quality,...


map background search result map search result map Modeling Effects of Climate Change on Cheatgrass Die-Off Areas in the Northern Great Basin USGS-USFS Partnership to Help Managers Evaluate Conservation Strategies for Aquatic Ecosystems based on Future Climate Projections Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S. Projected Vulnerability of Brook Trout to Climate and Land Use Changes in the Eastern U.S. (Regional Assessment) Establishing Climate Change Vulnerability Rankings for Hawaiian Native Plants Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Climate Change and Resilience of Sport Fisheries in Lakes Avian Indicators of Climate Change Based on the North American Breeding Bird Survey Systematic Literature Review of Climate Change Impacts to Inland Fishes Global Analysis of Trends in Projected and Documented Effects of Climate Change on Inland Fish Using Genetic Information to Understand Drought Tolerance and Bark Beetle Resistance in Whitebark Pine Forests Integrating Climate Change Research and Planning to Inform Wildlife Conservation in the Boreal Forests of the Northeastern U.S. Foundational Science Area: Climate Adaptation Strategies for Wildlife and Habitats in the North Central U.S. Migration Mismatch: Bird Migration and Phenological Mismatching Enabling Climate-Informed Planning and Decisions about Species of Conservation Concern in the North Central Region: Phase 2 Climate Projections for use in Stream Restoration and Culvert Design in Washington State Managing Non-native Game Mammals to Reduce Future Conflicts with Native Plant Conservation in Hawai‘i Using Genetic Information to Understand Drought Tolerance and Bark Beetle Resistance in Whitebark Pine Forests Integrating Climate Change Research and Planning to Inform Wildlife Conservation in the Boreal Forests of the Northeastern U.S. Modeling Effects of Climate Change on Cheatgrass Die-Off Areas in the Northern Great Basin Establishing Climate Change Vulnerability Rankings for Hawaiian Native Plants Climate Projections for use in Stream Restoration and Culvert Design in Washington State Climate Change and Resilience of Sport Fisheries in Lakes Projected Vulnerability of Brook Trout to Climate and Land Use Changes in the Eastern U.S. (Regional Assessment) USGS-USFS Partnership to Help Managers Evaluate Conservation Strategies for Aquatic Ecosystems based on Future Climate Projections Enabling Climate-Informed Planning and Decisions about Species of Conservation Concern in the North Central Region: Phase 2 Foundational Science Area: Climate Adaptation Strategies for Wildlife and Habitats in the North Central U.S. Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S. Science and Forecasting to Inform Implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s Whitebark Pine Management Strategy Avian Indicators of Climate Change Based on the North American Breeding Bird Survey Migration Mismatch: Bird Migration and Phenological Mismatching Systematic Literature Review of Climate Change Impacts to Inland Fishes Global Analysis of Trends in Projected and Documented Effects of Climate Change on Inland Fish