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Case Study: Integrated Scenarios and Outreach for Habitat Threat Assessments on California RangelandsWe developed six scenarios organized around our management question: How can we maintain viable ranchlands and their ecosystem services in light of future integrated threats? The scenarios represent alternative futures of climate/land use/hydrological change for the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition (Rangeland Coalition) focus area (the foothills around the Central Valley and most of the southern Inner Coast Range) based on (a) consistent storylines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES)5 and (b) downscaled global climate models (GCMs) that represent...
We evaluated the biogeomorphic processes of a large (309 ha) tidal salt marsh and examined factors that influence its ability to keep pace with relative sea-level rise (SLR). Detailed elevation data from 1995 and 2008 were compared with digital elevation models (DEMs) to assess marsh surface elevation change during this time. Overall, 37 % (113 ha) of the marsh increased in elevation at a rate that exceeded SLR, whereas 63 % (196 ha) of the area did not keep pace with SLR. Of the total area, 55 % (169 ha) subsided during the study period, but subsidence varied spatially across the marsh surface. To determine which biogeomorphic and spatial factors contributed to measured elevation change, we collected soil cores...
Understanding factors influencing survival of Pacific salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.) is essential to species conservation, because drivers of mortality can vary over multiple spatial and temporal scales. Although recent studies have evaluated the effects of climate, habitat quality, or resource management (e.g., hatchery operations) on salmonid recruitment and survival, a failure to look at multiple factors simultaneously leaves open questions about the relative importance of different factors. We analyzed the relationship between ten factors and survival (1980–2007) of four populations of salmonids with distinct life histories from two adjacent watersheds (Salmon and Scott rivers) in the Klamath River basin, California....
Understanding recent biogeographic responses to climate change is fundamental for improving our predictions of likely future responses and guiding conservation planning at both local and global scales. Studies of observed biogeographic responses to 20th century climate change have principally examined effects related to ubiquitous increases in temperature – collectively termed a warming fingerprint. Although the importance of changes in other aspects of climate – particularly precipitation and water availability – is widely acknowledged from a theoretical standpoint and supported by paleontological evidence, we lack a practical understanding of how these changes interact with temperature to drive biogeographic responses....
The California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense; hereafter, CTS) is classified as a federally threatened species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2004). Consequently, much research has been done to provide information for its management and conservation. However, previous research has primarily focused on the use of upland, terrestrial environments by CTS (Trenham and Shaffer 2005), the demography of populations (Trenham et al. 2001), and the effects of hybridization between CTS and the introduced, barred tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium; Johnson et al. 2013). Information on the characteristics of wetlands (e.g., hydrologic regime) that support reproduction and metamorphosis by CTS is limited....
Coastal areas are high-risk zones subject to the impacts of global climate change, with significant increases in the frequencies of extreme weather and storm events, and sea-level rise forecast by 2100. These physical processes are expected to alter estuaries, resulting in loss of intertidal wetlands and their component wildlife species. In particular, impacts to salt marshes and their wildlife will vary both temporally and spatially and may be irreversible and severe. Synergistic effects caused by combining stressors with anthropogenic land-use patterns could create areas of significant biodiversity loss and extinction, especially in urbanized estuaries that are already heavily degraded. In this paper, we discuss...
We conducted detailed resurveys of a montane mammal, Urocitellus beldingi, to examine the effects of climate change on persistence along the trailing edge of its range. Of 74 California sites where U. beldingi were historically recorded (1902–1966), 42 per cent were extirpated, with no evidence for colonization of previously unoccupied sites. Increases in both precipitation and temperature predicted site extirpations, potentially owing to snowcover loss. Surprisingly, human land-use change buffered climate change impacts, leading to increased persistence and abundance. Excluding human-modified sites, U. beldingi has shown an upslope range retraction of 255 m. Generalized additive models of past distribution were...
Understanding the environmental contributors to population structure is of paramount importance for conservation in urbanized environments. We used spatially explicit models to determine genetic population structure under current and future environmental conditions across a highly fragmented, human-dominated environment in Southern California to assess the effects of natural ecological variation and urbanization. We focused on 7 common species with diverse habitat requirements, home-range sizes, and dispersal abilities. We quantified the relative roles of potential barriers, including natural environmental characteristics and an anthropogenic barrier created by a major highway, in shaping genetic variation. The...
Significant efforts are underway to translate improved understanding of how climate change is altering ecosystems into practical actions for sustaining ecosystem functions and benefits. We explore this transition in California, where adaptation and mitigation are advancing relatively rapidly, through four case studies that span large spatial domains and encompass diverse ecological systems, institutions, ownerships, and policies. The case studies demonstrate the context specificity of societal efforts to adapt ecosystems to climate change and involve applications of diverse scientific tools (e.g., scenario analyses, downscaled climate projections, ecological and connectivity models) tailored to specific planning...
This September, 2014 article in the Orange County Register highlights the project “Sea-level rise modeling across the California salt marsh gradient”.
In a rapidly changing climate, effective bird conservation requires not only reliable information about the current vulnerability of species of conservation concern, but also credible projections of their future vulnerability. Such projections may enable managers to preempt or reduce emerging climate-related threats through appropriate habitat management. We used NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) to predict vulnerability to climate change of 168 bird species that breed in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA. The CCVI assesses species-specific exposure and sensitivity to climate change within a defined geographic area, through the integration of (a) species’ range maps, (b) information...
Climate change is raising challenging questions for systematic conservation planning. Are methods of planning based on the current spatial patterns of biodiversity effective given long-term climate change trends? In response to this concern, some conservation scientists argue that conservation planning should focus on protecting the abiotic diversity in the landscape, which drives patterns of biological diversity, rather than focusing on the distribution of focal species or community types, which shift in response to climate change. Climate diversity is one important abiotic driver of biodiversity patterns, as different climates host different biological communities and genetic pools. We theorize that networks of...
The amount and quality of natural resources available for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitats are expected to decrease throughout the world in areas that are intensively managed for urban and agricultural uses. Changes in climate and management of increasingly limited water supplies may further impact water resources essential for sustaining habitats. In this report, we document adapting a Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system model for the Central Valley of California. We demonstrate using this adapted model (WEAP-CVwh) to evaluate impacts produced from plausible future scenarios on agricultural and wetland habitats used by waterbirds and other wildlife. Processed output from WEAP-CVwh indicated varying...
In the Pacific Northwest, coastal wetlands support a wealth of ecosystem services including habitat provision for wildlife and fisheries and flood protection. The tidal marshes, mudflats, and shallow bays of coastal estuaries link marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats, and provide economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Climate change effects such as sea-level rise are altering these habitats, but we know little about how these areas will change over the next 50–100 years. Our study examined the effects of sea-level rise on nine tidal marshes in Washington and Oregon between 2012 and 2015, with the goal of providing scientific data to support future coastal planning and conservation. We compiled...
Climate refugia management has been proposed as a climate adaptation strategy in the face of global change. Key to this strategy is identification of these areas as well as an understanding of how they are connected on the landscape. Focusing on meadows of the Sierra Nevada in California, we examined multiple factors affecting connectivity using circuit theory, and determined how patches have been and are expected to be affected by climate change. Connectivity surfaces varied depending upon the underlying hypothesis, although meadow area and elevation were important features for higher connectivity. Climate refugia that would promote population persistence were identified from downscaled climate layers, based on...
Dam removal is often proposed for restoration of anadromous salmonid populations, which are in serious decline in California. However, the benefits of dam removal vary due to differences in affected populations and potential for environmental impacts. Here, we develop an assessment method to examine the relationship between dam removal and salmonid conservation, focusing on dams that act as complete migration barriers. Specifically, we (1) review the effects of dams on anadromous salmonids, (2) describe factors specific to dam removal in California, (3) propose a method to evaluate dam removal effects on salmonids, (4) apply this method to evaluate 24 dams, and (5) discuss potential effects of removing four dams...
ContextIn addition to biodiversity conservation, California rangelands generate multiple ecosystem services including livestock production, drinking and irrigation water, and carbon sequestration. California rangeland ecosystems have experienced substantial conversion to residential land use and more intensive agriculture.ObjectivesTo understand the potential impacts to rangeland ecosystem services, we developed six spatially explicit (250 m) climate/land use change scenarios for the Central Valley of California and surrounding foothills consistent with three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenario narratives.MethodsWe quantified baseline and projected change in wildlife habitat, soil organic...
The myriad challenges facing biodiversity under climate change are reflected in the challenges facing managers planning for these impacts. An ever-expanding number of recommendations and tools for climate change adaptation exist to aid managers in these efforts, yet navigating these various resources can lead to information overload and paralysis in decision-making. Here we provide a synthesis of the key considerations, approaches, and available tools for integrating climate change adaptation into management plans. We discuss principal elements in climate change adaptation—incorporating uncer- tainty through scenario planning and adaptive management—and review three leading frameworks for incorporating climate change...
Empirical evidence supports wild birds as playing a role in the interhemispheric exchange of bacteriaand viruses; however, data supporting the redistribution of parasites among continents are limited. Inthis study, the hypothesis that migratory birds contribute to the redistribution of parasites between continentswas tested by sampling northern pintails (Anas acuta) at locations throughout the North PacificBasin in North America and East Asia for haemosporidian infections and assessing the genetic evidencefor parasite exchange. Of 878 samples collected from birds in Alaska (USA), California (USA), and Hokkaido(Japan) during August 2011–May 2012 and screened for parasitic infections using moleculartechniques, Leucocytozoon,...
The Central Valley of California is one of the most important regions for wintering waterbirds in North America despite extensive anthropogenic landscape modification and decline of historical wetlands there. Like many other mediterranean-climate ecosystems across the globe, the Central Valley has been subject to a burgeoning human population and expansion and intensification of agricultural and urban development that have impacted wildlife habitats. Future effects of urban development, changes in water supply management, and precipitation and air temperature related to global climate change on area of waterbird habitat in the Central Valley are uncertain, yet potentially substantial. Therefore, we modeled area...