These datasets are a depiction of the potential capability of the landscape throughout the Northeastern United States to provide suitable future conditions for the 29 representative species using 2080 climate projections with the 2010 landscape. These products are intended to isolate the effect of climate change on the species distribution by not incorporating urband growth into the future landscape. The data are intended to be used in conjunction with the landscape capability datasets, for each respective species, based on environmental conditions existing in approximately 2010. All locations are scored on a scale from 0 to 1, with a value of 0 indicating no capacity to support the species and 1 indicating optimal conditions for the species.
These species datasets are part of a larger set of results developed by the Designing Sustainable Landscapes project led by Professor Kevin McGarigal of UMass Amherst. The species datasets developed under the project include the following:
1. Landscape capability datasets for a set of species intended to represent a broader set of wildlife species, and associated ecosystems, that collectively encompass a majority of the terrestrial, wetland, and coastal ecosystems of the Northeast. For each species, the datasets include projections of future landscape capability for 2080, to date taking into account future climate. Projections taking into account scenarios of possible future development are also planned.
2. Climate zone datasets for each species that compare 2010 results to future climate scenarios for 2080. These include areas where the species could most likely be expected to persist, areas where it might be able colonize with future climate change, and areas where the species might experience a loss of suitable habitat.
The representative species datasets collectively are components of the Nature’s Network project (naturesnetwork.org). Nature’s Network is a collaborative effort to identify shared priorities for conservation in the Northeast, considering the value of fish and wildlife species and the natural areas they inhabit.
The datasets are primarily intended to be used in conjunction with the Landscape Capability datasets to understand how climate conditions could change in the future for each species. When used in conjunction with the Climate Zones data, they can be used to identify potential climate refugia for the species as well as areas where the species may be most vulnerable to climate change. To the extent that other co-occurring species may share a similar response to climate, it may also be applicable to these species as well.
You might explore these products in combination with the following other Nature’s Network products:
The full set of representative species Landscape Capability and Climate Zones datasets.
Nature’s Network Conservation Design, and the Terrestrial Core-Connector Network, to identify priority areas for conservation that also correspond to resilient areas for the representative species (and potentially species with which they share habitats).
Probability of Development, 2080, and Secured Lands (Eastern U.S.) to identify important habitat for that is unprotected and may be at high risk of development.
Description and Derivation
Detailed technical documentation for the derivation of the data and related representative species products is available at: http://jamba.provost.ads.umass.edu/web/lcc/DSL_documentation_species.pdf.
Briefly, the Climate Response dataset is a modification of the 2010 Landscape Capability dataset for this species, which represents the integration of three models:
1. A habitat capability model developed using a spatially explicit, GIS-based wildlife habitat modeling framework called “HABIT@” developed by the Landscape Ecology Lab of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
2. A climate niche model based on an analysis of the climate conditions (circa 2010) that are most suitable for the species in eastern North America.
3. A prevalence model intended to capture biogeographic factors influencing the distribution of a species that are not reflected in the habitat capability or climate niche models.
The Landscape Capability Models include a two-page summary about the model for each species.
The Climate Response dataset recalculates Landscape Capability by substituting 2010 climate conditions with projected conditions in 2080 under the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) scenarios 4.5 and 8.5 climate change scenarios (averaged across scenarios). It does not take into account potential effects of development, forest succession and harvesting, or other landscape changes, isolating the potential effects of climate change.
Known Issues and Uncertainties
As with any project carried out across such a large area, the dataset is subject to limitations. The results by themselves are not a prescription for on-the-ground action; users are encouraged to verify, with field visits and site-specific knowledge, the value of any areas identified in the project. Known issues and uncertainties include the following:
Users are cautioned against using the data on too small an area (for example, a small parcel of land), as the data may not be sufficiently accurate at that level of resolution.
The mapping of ecosystem locations and development is known to be imperfect, which consequently affects the mapped values for species habitat. While the ecosystem mapping is anticipated to correctly reflect broad patterns of ecosystem occurrence, errors in classification and placement do occur, as with any regional GIS data. In addition, errors in mapping and alignment of development, roads, and a number of other data layers can affect the model results.
It is not possible to map all factors affecting species habitat across the Northeast, and the omission of such factors can be anticipated to create pose some limitations in the results.
The habitat needs of the representative species used in the project do not fully reflect the habitat needs of all species with which they co-occur; some specialized habitats may be missed entirely.
To allow straightforward examination of potential climate effects, this product locks in other factors affecting habitat (such as development and forest seral stage) as they are in the Landscape Capability model, which is based on environmental conditions in approximately 2010. In actuality these other factors will change as well.
A number of uncertainties are associated with future climate projections. Additional assumptions and limitations associated with future climate projections are summarized in the climate technical documentation: http://jamba.provost.ads.umass.edu/web/lcc/dsl_documentation_climate.pdf.
Considerable uncertainties surround the rate and nature of how ecosystems and individual species will respond to a changing climate. Historical studies and future projections generally indicate significant lag times in forest responses to climate changes in terms of tree species composition and structure. The degree to which a species will respond directly to changes in the climate, or indirectly to climate through changes in their forest habitat, is uncertain. The Climate Response dataset can be interpreted as assuming each species esponds directly to climate change, not accounting for lags in forest changes.
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