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Monthly Standardize Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), Daily soil-water potential (MPa) and soil temperature (degree C) data for plots from SageSuccess. The SageSuccess Project is a joint effort between USGS, BLM, and FWS to understand how to establish big sagebrush and ultimately restore functioning sagebrush ecosystems. Improving the success of land management treatments to restore sagebrush-steppe is important for reducing the long-term impacts of rangeland fire on sage-grouse and over 350 other wildlife species that use these habitats.
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These data represent simulated ecological drought conditions for current climate, and for future climate represented by all available climate models at two time periods during the 21st century. These data were used to: 1) describe geographic patterns in ecological drought under historical climate conditions, 2) quantify the direction and magnitude of change in ecological drought, 3) identify areas and ecological drought metrics with projected changes that are robust across climate models, defined as drought metrics and locations where >90% of climate models agree in the direction of change.
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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...
Managers of public lands in the western U.S. face enormous challenges under recent warmer, drier conditions that are expected to worsen. This enhanced aridity can lead to permanent degradation of wildlife habitat and ecological services upon which humans depend. To help managers confront these challenges, our project used a network of vegetation monitoring data that managers already collect from the ground and air (satellite imagery) with climate conditions to determine which types of habitat are vulnerable to drought and elevated temperatures, what habitat changes may occur, and where across the landscape these changes will be most pronounced. We employed new assessment tools to determine how soils, topography,...
Abstract (from ScienceDirect): Climate change effects on vegetation will likely be strong in the southwestern U.S., which is projected to experience large increases in temperature and changes in precipitation. Plant communities in the southwestern U.S. may be particularly vulnerable to climate change as the productivity of many plant species is strongly water-limited. This study examines the relationship between climate and vegetation condition using a time-series of Landsat imagery across grassland, shrubland, and woodland communities on the Colorado Plateau, USA. We improve on poorly understood inter-annual climate-vegetation relationships by exploring how the responses of different plant communities depend on...
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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...
The HIP community is a collaboration of scientists in the Pacific Northwest focused on advancing a holistic understanding of intermittency in headwater areas. The goal of this specific project is to gather previously collected streamflow permanence data from efforts throughout the Pacific Northwest and use those data to develop models to predict where streams might go dry under current and future climate conditions. Additionally, the models will be used to improve land managers’ ability to identify ecologically-significant headwater streams resilient to drought conditions enabling them to focus their limited rehabilitation and conservation resources on watersheds necessary to support populations of threatened aquatic...
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Plants and animals undergo certain life cycle events every year, such as breeding or flowering. Known as phenology, these events are very sensitive to changes in climate. Changes in plant phenology can have cascading effects that impact the herbivore species that depend on the affected plants for food, such as elk, moose, and deer. Therefore, characterizing long term vegetation cycles can provide critical insight into how the behavior and health of a number of species may be altered due to climate change. This project sought to identify how drought conditions influence vegetation phenology, in order to better understand the potential effects on herbivores. Specifically, researchers examined (1) if drought causes...
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These data were compiled for research pertaining to the effects of stand density treatments on growth rates in semi-arid, ponderosa pine forests. Also, these data examined how the planned restoration treatments in the Four Forests Restoration Initiative (4FRI), the largest forest restoration project being implemented in the United States, would alter landscape-scale patterns of forest growth and drought vulnerability throughout the 21st century. Using drought-growth relationships developed within the landscape, we considered a suite of climate and thinning scenarios and estimated both average forest growth and the proportion of years with extremely low growth as a measure of vulnerability to long-term decline. The...
Tags: 21st century, 4FRI, Arizona, Climatology, Coconino National Forest, All tags...
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Changing climate conditions (e.g. changes to air temperature, surface temperature, snowpack duration, and soil temperature) are affecting where trees are able to successfully grow and are bringing changes to the structure of forests throughout many parts of Alaska. In order to understand and project future vegetation changes, scientists use computer models to establish the relationships between climate variables, such as those mentioned above, and ecological responses such as the presence or absence of a tree species, tree growth and establishment, changes in sap flow, and other demographic and physiological responses. These computer models, however, frequently do not account for Alaska’s extreme topography and...
With our colleagues at the USGS, we are creating a new paradigm for drought planning that gives ecological impacts a seat at the table. Our approach recognizes the importance of considering human water use as a driver of ecological responses, and provides mechanisms for identifying feedback loops and situations where the ecological water availability thresholds for nature and people (via key ecosystem services) may differ within a given geography. Teasing apart these and other components of addressing drought risks is helping update natural resource planning and conservation strategy development as the frequency and intensity of droughts continue to increase in the US.


    map background search result map search result map The Effects of Drought on Vegetation Phenology and Wildlife Understanding the Ecological Impacts of Drought Across the U.S.: Regional Workshops and National Synthesis Ecological Drought: Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions for People and Nature Observing and Understanding the Impacts of Climate on Alaskan Forests Ecological Drought for Sagebrush Seedings in the Great Basin Robust ecological drought projection data for drylands in the 21st century Ecosystem water balance and ecological drought patterns under historical and future climate conditions for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Landscape Ecosystem water balance and ecological drought patterns under historical and future climate conditions for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) Landscape The Effects of Drought on Vegetation Phenology and Wildlife Ecological Drought for Sagebrush Seedings in the Great Basin Robust ecological drought projection data for drylands in the 21st century Observing and Understanding the Impacts of Climate on Alaskan Forests Ecological Drought: Assessing Vulnerability and Developing Solutions for People and Nature Understanding the Ecological Impacts of Drought Across the U.S.: Regional Workshops and National Synthesis