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_____Science to Action Fellowship: Supporting Graduate Students to Apply Science to Decision Making and Adaptation
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Perhaps once considered dry, unproductive and unremarkable landscapes, America’s rangelands are increasingly recognized as invaluable cultural and ecological systems as they become progressively threatened by climate change. Water scarcity and wildfire across the western United States is expected to increase in severity and frequency due to climate change (Schoennagel et al., 2017). The economies of rural rangeland communities rely on agriculture and recreation, and the semi-arid landscapes are home to unique ecological communities. With careful stewardship, rangelands maintain soils, watersheds and carbon storage, but poor management can degrade wildlife habitat and destroy biodiversity (McNeeley et al., 2017)....
Water resource managers face the complex challenge of balancing water allocation between human and environmental needs. Declining water availability in many regions globally is driven by over- allocation and usage by municipal and agricultural users and climate-driven changes in rainfall. At the same time, environmental flows in rivers and streams that sustain fish and other aquatic life are decreasing for the same reasons. Because freshwater species’ populations are declining rapidly, it is increasingly important to balance between human and environmental water needs. However, there are significant barriers and socio-political issues that prevent water from being allocated to conserve freshwater ecosystems. This...
Playas contribute substantially to biodiversity in the Great Plains by providing habitat and food resources for migratory waterfowl and other wetland dependent species; however, the combination of sedimentation, land use alteration, and climate change threatens this primary function of the wetlands. Within a changing climate, alterations to playa hydro-periods will likely have severe consequences, as playa plants, animals, and nutrient cycling are dependent on regular inundation and drying cycles. Invertebrates, amphibians, and larger wildlife require very specific moisture conditions to proliferate and survive in playas, and plant communities in playas also depend on seasonal precipitation patterns. Thus, changes...