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Northeastern boreal forests are an important habitat type for many wildlife species, including migratory birds and moose. These animals play vital roles in the boreal forest ecosystem, are a source of pleasure for bird and wildlife watchers, and contribute to tourism revenue for many communities. However, moose and migratory birds are thought to be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. For example, in New York’s Adirondack Park system, five species of boreal birds have shown occupancy declines of 15% or more. Meanwhile, moose are threatened by winter ticks that thrive in warmer climates and spread disease. A 2018 New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) report found that there...
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Prairies were once widespread across North America, but are now one of the most endangered and least protected ecosystems in the world. Agriculture and residential development have reduced once extensive prairies into a patchwork of remnant prairies and “surrogate” grasslands (e.g., hayfields, planted pastures). Grassland ecosystems and many grassland-dependent birds are also particularly vulnerable to rapid shifts in climate and associated changes in drought and extreme weather. The Central Flyway is a vast bird migration route that comprises more than half of the continental U.S., and extends from Central America to Canada, and harbors the greatest diversity of grassland birds in North America. Throughout this...
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Climate change is already affecting ecosystems, and will likely trigger significant and permanent changes in both ecological and human communities. Such transformations are already occurring in the Arctic region of Alaska, where temperatures are warming at twice the global average and causing some ecosystems to transition to new states. Arctic warming has led to coastal erosion that has forced human communities to relocate and a loss of sea ice that has forced marine mammals, such as polar bears and walrus, to adapt to a more terrestrial mode of living. Meanwhile, in the Great Plains of the U.S., past interactions between land and water use during the Dust Bowl and recent high rates of depletion of the Ogallala...
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There have been increasing concerns regarding the decline in moose numbers along the southern range of their North American distribution. This has prompted varied research efforts to determine the factors contributing to the reduced local populations. Although heat stress from increasing temperatures could be a potential factor for declining populations in Minnesota, temperature increases have also occurred in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut where populations have been expanding in recent years. Alternatively, indirect climate effects from warmer temperatures may be playing a role, such as increased prevalence of parasites (e.g., brainworm, winter tick) to levels lethal to moose. Additionally, factors such...
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The Schitsu'umsh people (Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho) have an intimate relationship with their landscape and a rich knowledge of how to interact with the environment in a way that benefits human, plant, and animal communities alike. Such knowledge and practices can provide valuable insight as to how tribal and non-tribal resource managers, communities, and governments can best respond to the effects of a changing climate. This project was a pilot effort to collect and translate indigenous knowledge and practices into shareable formats. Researchers developed documents, images, lesson plans, and innovative, interactive 3-D virtual reality simulations that effectively convey Schitsu’umsh knowledge and practices and...
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Changes in the Earth’s climate are expected to impact freshwater habitats around the world by altering water temperatures, water levels, and streamflow. These changes will have consequences for inland fish – those found within lakes, rivers, streams, canals, reservoirs, and other landlocked waters – which are important for food, commerce, and recreation around the world. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in 2011, 33.1 million people fished and spent $41.8 billion in the United States alone. Yet to date, little comprehensive research has been conducted to investigate the effects of climate change on inland fisheries at a large scale. The aim of this project was to summarize the current state of...
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Water in the western United States is disappearing, and several states are facing severe water shortages as drought conditions worsen. Many streams are drying up, and there is growing concern that this trend will only continue as climate change produces warmer and drier conditions. The loss of stream ecosystems has far reaching ecological, social, and economic implications. Species that depend on these ecosystems for habitat will be at greater risk of extinction and humans will lose vital sources of water relied upon for agriculture, drinking water, and recreation. This project aimed to identify how water availability is changing in the West, focusing specifically on when and where streams go dry. Researchers...
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As global temperatures continue to rise, the frequency and severity of droughts in North America are expected to increase, leading to a wide range of social and ecological impacts. Identifying these impacts and the consequences for ecosystems and human communities are essential for effective drought management. Equally important is to improve the capacity of nature and people to prepare for and cope with drought by identifying management strategies that benefit both. An interdisciplinary working group within the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) was established by the U.S. Geological Survey, The Wildlife Conservation Society, and The Nature Conservancy to synthesize our current understanding of...
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Drought is a complex environmental hazard that impacts both ecological and social systems. Accounting for the role of human attitudes, institutions, and societal values in drought planning is important to help identify how various drought durations and severity may differentially affect social resilience to adequately respond to and manage drought impacts. While there have been successful past efforts to understand how individuals, communities, institutions, and agencies plan for and respond to drought, these studies have relied on extensive multi-year case studies in specific locations. In contrast, this project seeks to determine how social science insights and methods can best contribute to ecological drought...
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The stream systems of Hawai‘i are unique and home to many rare species, including five native fish and five native shellfish. These native species have amphidromous life cycles, meaning that they spend part of their lives in the ocean and part in freshwater streams. Stream flow serves as a vital natural pathway, connecting saltwater and freshwater habitats so that these animals can migrate between them and carry out critical life stages (e.g., development, reproduction). Over the last 20 years, the amount of rainfall in Hawai‘i has decreased, and climate models predict that this trend will continue. It is uncertain how reduced rainfall will affect stream flow and, consequently, the native stream species that depend...
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Better understanding of the overall fishery production in river systems around the world may influence general development policies and practices for aquatic systems and sustainable maintenance of an important protein source (particularly for poorer countries where fish are relatively readily available to the local human population). With this study, researchers worked to fill this knowledge gap by estimating the overall fishery production in river networks globally using multivariate statistical models with explanatory variables compiled from remotely sensed and inā€situ observations. The freshwater fish production in rivers was estimated by: 1. Developing models using key drivers (temperature, precipitation,...
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Increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation threaten the persistence of the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the southernmost subspecies of cutthroat trout, found only in parts of New Mexico and Colorado. This subspecies appears to be more vulnerable to drought than more northern subspecies, because it occupies small and fragmented streams which are at greater risk of drying up during drought. Most notably, in 2002 drought in the Southwest resulted in the loss of 14 different Rio Grande cutthroat trout populations – about 10% of the total population. While it is known that drought is having an effect on Rio Grande cutthroat trout, the specific ways in which individuals and populations are affected by drought...
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Despite the important effects of inland fisheries on food, economy, and ecosystem services throughout the world, no comprehensive understanding on the status or key drivers of inland fisheries exists (Beard et al. 2011). Our lack of knowledge regarding the status results from the common belief that inland fishery harvests are widely under reported (FAO 2009; Welcomme et al. 2010), particularly the contributions from recreational, artisanal, and illegal fisheries (FAO 2003; Allan et al. 2005). Overcoming this knowledge gap has no simple solution, given that resources to conduct on-the-ground fisheries assessments are lacking throughout much of the world, particularly in Africa or Asia where the majority of the inland...
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Severe droughts cause widespread tree mortality and decreased growth in forests across the globe—even in areas with cooler climates. Mitigating the negative effects of climate change, in particular increased drought frequency and severity, poses a major challenge to forest managers. Managers are searching for strategies that minimize the negative effects of drought on forests (i.e. increase their resistance to drought) and maximize the ability of forests to recover after a drought (i.e. improve their resilience). Evidence suggests that forests with certain combinations of tree species, sizes, and stem densities are better able to withstand and recover from drought. The goal of this study was to identify which...
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Migratory birds may be hit especially hard by climate change – particularly waterbirds that depend on wetlands as resting and feeding sites during their journey between breeding and non-breeding grounds. California’s Central Valley and the interior basins of southeastern Oregon and northeastern California provide some of the most critical wetlands resources to migratory waterbirds in the western U.S. However, these wetlands rely heavily on snow pack and precipitation for water supply, both of which have already decreased due to climate change. Of further concern is the fact that drought conditions resulting from climate change could exacerbate existing water allocation issues in the region. Researchers are examining...
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The mission of the US Geological Survey’s National Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCASC) is to provide managers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders with information and decision-making tools to respond to effects of climate change on natural resources. In support of this goal, the NCASC wishes to support an exceptional mentoring experience for graduate students from select partner institutions in developing policy-relevant products related to managing climate change impacts on fish, wildlife, and/or ecosystems. For many graduate students conducting research on the impacts of climate change on natural resources, disseminating results of their research to managers, policy-makers, and/or other stakeholders is...
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Walleye, a socially and economically important sportfish across much of North America, are experiencing population declines in many lakes throughout their range. Studies suggest that multiple factors – potentially linked to climate change – are contributing to the decline of walleye, including changes in lake temperatures, loss of habitat, increasing water clarity (perhaps due to drought), and interactions with other fish. This research seeks to identify the mechanisms that underlie declining walleye populations, particularly the low survival rate of young walleye. Data will be collected through a whole-lake experiment, an analysis of long-term data from lakes in northern Wisconsin, and simulation modeling. Members...
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The impacts of climate change are widespread and accelerating. As natural resource managers are tasked with maintaining and protecting species and ecosystems, options for minimizing the impacts of climate change are needed. One option for climate adaptation focuses on resistance, which seeks to preserve, as much as possible, the historical structure, composition, and function of an ecosystem in the face of changing climate conditions. One of the primary resistance strategies is to identify and conserve what are known as climate change refugia. These refugia represent areas that remain relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time and therefore enable the persistence of valued physical, ecological,...
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Climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of drought in the U.S., leading to potentially harmful ecological impacts. The uncertain and relatively rapid changes to precipitation patterns pose a significant challenge to managers and decision-makers. In addition to having negative social and economic implications, long periods without rainfall can alter ecosystems, thereby threatening fish and wildlife species. The term “ecological drought” emphasizes the environmental consequences of future droughts. While it is known that ecological drought places multiple stresses on the environment, many of the specific impacts are not fully understood. To address this need, researchers are working to...
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Assessing the vulnerability of wildlife species to a changing climate is critical for understanding what adaptation actions need to be taken to minimize negative impacts. The ability of species to adapt to the impacts of climate change (i.e., their adaptive capacity) is an important factor to consider when assessing vulnerability. For example, organisms can possess traits that allow them to move to areas of favorable habitat or change their phenotypes (observable characteristics) in response to changing environmental conditions. Additionally, an organism’s traits can adapt to a changing external environment over multiple generations through evolutionary processes. Recent scientific evidence suggests that “evolutionary...


map background search result map search result map Collecting and Applying Schitsu’umsh Indigenous Knowledge and Practices to Climate Change Decision Making State of the Science on the Effects of Climate Change on North American Inland Fishes Informing and Evaluating Forest Management Strategies to Promote Drought Resistance Assessing the Impacts of Drought on Migratory Waterbirds in Key Conservation Regions of the Western U.S. River’s End: Mapping Patterns of Stream Drying in the Western United States The Effects of Drought on Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout: The Role of Stream Flow and Temperature Global Assessment of River Fish Production and Potential Global Change Implications Science to Action Fellowship: Supporting Graduate Students to Apply Science to Decision Making and Adaptation Developing New Strategies for Modeling and Assessing the Response of Global Inland Fisheries to Regional Changing Climate Understanding the Ecological Impacts of Drought Across the U.S.: Regional Workshops and National Synthesis Can Evolution Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change? Exploring Evolutionary Adaptive Capacity (EVAC) and Bridging the Gap between Science and Management Ecological Drought: Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions for People and Nature Assessing the Impact of Future Climate on Hawai‘i’s Aquatic Ecosystems Safe Operating Space for Walleye: Understanding the Conditions Needed to Sustain Recreational Fisheries in a Changing World Integrating Climate Change Research and Planning to Inform Wildlife Conservation in the Boreal Forests of the Northeastern U.S. Developing and Testing a Rapid Assessment Method for Understanding Key Social Factors of Ecological Drought Preparedness Adaptation Strategies in the Face of Climate-Driven Ecological Transformation: Case Studies from Arctic Alaska and the U.S. Great Plains Strategies for Reducing the Vulnerability of Grassland Birds to Climate Change within the Central Flyway Developing A National Framework for Incorporating Climate Change Refugia into Conservation and Adaptation Planning River’s End: Mapping Patterns of Stream Drying in the Western United States The Effects of Drought on Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout: The Role of Stream Flow and Temperature Integrating Climate Change Research and Planning to Inform Wildlife Conservation in the Boreal Forests of the Northeastern U.S. Assessing the Impact of Future Climate on Hawai‘i’s Aquatic Ecosystems Safe Operating Space for Walleye: Understanding the Conditions Needed to Sustain Recreational Fisheries in a Changing World Collecting and Applying Schitsu’umsh Indigenous Knowledge and Practices to Climate Change Decision Making Assessing the Impacts of Drought on Migratory Waterbirds in Key Conservation Regions of the Western U.S. Strategies for Reducing the Vulnerability of Grassland Birds to Climate Change within the Central Flyway Informing and Evaluating Forest Management Strategies to Promote Drought Resistance Can Evolution Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change? Exploring Evolutionary Adaptive Capacity (EVAC) and Bridging the Gap between Science and Management Adaptation Strategies in the Face of Climate-Driven Ecological Transformation: Case Studies from Arctic Alaska and the U.S. Great Plains Ecological Drought: Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions for People and Nature State of the Science on the Effects of Climate Change on North American Inland Fishes Understanding the Ecological Impacts of Drought Across the U.S.: Regional Workshops and National Synthesis Science to Action Fellowship: Supporting Graduate Students to Apply Science to Decision Making and Adaptation Developing and Testing a Rapid Assessment Method for Understanding Key Social Factors of Ecological Drought Preparedness Developing A National Framework for Incorporating Climate Change Refugia into Conservation and Adaptation Planning Global Assessment of River Fish Production and Potential Global Change Implications Developing New Strategies for Modeling and Assessing the Response of Global Inland Fisheries to Regional Changing Climate