These datasets depict three zones of uncertainty in the predicted future distribution of 28 representative species based on climate suitability, given the projected climate in 2080 (averaged across RPC 4.5 and 8.5 climate scenarios). The “Zone of Persistence” represents those areas where the species is expected to continue to occur through 2080. The “Zone of Contraction” represents those areas that are currently suitable from a climate perspective but where the 2080 climate is projected to be no longer suitable. The “Zone of Expansion” represents those areas where current climate is unsuitable but future climate is projected to become suitable by 2080. Compared to the Zone of Persistence, uncertainty is higher as to whether the species will occur in the Zones of Contraction or Expansion in 2080.
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, with which it is intended to be used, also include the following:
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 (circa 2010).
Climate Response datasets for each species that depict projected landscape capability in 2080, taking into account projected changes in climate.
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.
These datasets are primarily intended to be used in conjunction with the Landscape Capability for Representative Species models to understand how habitat conditions could change in the future for this species. When used in conjunction with the Climate Response for Representative Species models, 2080, 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 Response
Nature’s Network Conservation Design, and the Terrestrial Core-Connector Network, to identify priority areas for conservation that also correspond to resilient areas for this species (and potentially species with which they share habitats).
Probability of Development, 2080, and Secured Lands (Eastern U.S.) to identify important breeding habitat for this species that is unprotected and may be at high risk of development.
Description and Derivation
Detailed technical documentation for the derivation of this and related representative species products is available at: http://jamba.provost.ads.umass.edu/web/lcc/DSL_documentation_species.pdf.
Climate zones are derived by intersecting the species' current and future climate niche envelopes (CNE) averaged across RPC 4.5 and 8.5 climate change scenarios. The CNE is a binary representation of where the species is expected to occur due solely to climate suitability (i.e., ignoring habitat). Climate zones depict three distinct zones of uncertainty in the predicted future distribution of a species based solely on climate suitability: 1) zone of persistence - overlap of the current and future CNE; thus, where the climate is suitable today and is expected to remain suitable through 2080, and consequently where we have high confidence in the species' predicted future occurrence; 2) zone of contraction - current CNE outside of the future CNE; thus, where the future climate is no longer predicted to be suitable, and consequently where we have lower confidence in the species' predicted future occurrence due to unknown population time lags and other factors; and 3) zone of expansion - future CNE outside of the current CNE; thus, where the future climate becomes suitable but is not currently suitable, and consequently where we have lower confidence in the species' predicted future occurrence due to unknown population time lags and other factors. These climate zones are an attempt to depict the extent to which a species distribution is expected remain stable, contract or expand due solely to predicted climate changes through 2080 (i.e., ignoring habitat changes).
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.
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 these species will respond directly to changes in the climate, or indirectly to climate through changes in their, is uncertain. The Contraction and Expansion Zones can be interpreted as assuming the species responds directly to climate change, not accounting for lags in ecosystem (habitat) changes.
Climate zones are based solely on climate and do not take into account whether the underlying land cover or ecosystem types are or will become suitable for the species. These dataset should be used in conjunction with landscape capability datasets to better understand ecosystem (habitat) suitability.
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