Native Americans are one of the most vulnerable populations to climate change in the United States because of their reliance upon the natural environment for food, livelihood, and cultural traditions. In the Southwest, where the temperature and precipitation changes from climate change are expected to be particularly severe, tribal communities may be especially vulnerable. Through this project, researchers sought to better understand the climate change threats facing the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe of northwestern Nevada. Researchers found that the Tribe’s vulnerability to climate change stems from its dependence on Pyramid Lake, which may experience reduced water supply in the future. This will potentially have negative consequences for the endangered cui-ui fish, which is an important food and income source for the Tribe. At the same time, the Tribe is limited in its current ability to respond to climate impacts because of few economic opportunities and dwindling federal support. Researchers worked collaboratively with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to develop adaptation and water management strategies that will help the Tribe prepare for and respond to climate change impacts.
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“Pyramid Lake, NV - Credit: Alex Wild (public domain)”