Wildlife habitat connectivity in the changing climate of New York’s Hudson Valley

Maintaining and restoring connectivity are key adaptation strategies for biodiversity conservation under climate change. We present a novel combination of species distribution and connectivity modeling using current and future climate regimes to prioritize connections among populations of 26 rare species in New York’s Hudson Valley. We modeled patches for each species for each time period and modeled potential connections among habitat patches by finding the least-cost path for every patch-to-patch connection. Finally, we aggregated these patches and paths to the tax parcel, commonly the primary unit of conservation action. Under future climate regimes, suitable habitat was predicted to contract or appear upslope and farther north. On average, predicted patches were nine times smaller and paths were twice as long under future climate. Parcels within the Hudson Highlands, Shawangunk Ridge, Catskill Mountains, and Harlem Valley had high species overlap, with areas upslope and northward increasing in importance over time. We envision that land managers and conservation planners can use these results to help prioritize parcel-level conservation and management and thus support biodiversity adaptation to climate change.

Redesigning biodiversity conservation projects for climate change: examples from the field

Few conservation projects consider climate impacts or have a process for developing adaptation strategies. To advance climate adaptation for biodiversity conservation, we tested a step-by-step approach to developing adaptation strategies with 20 projects from diverse geographies. Project teams assessed likely climate impacts using historical climate data, future climate predictions, expert input, and scientific literature. They then developed adaptation strategies that considered ecosystems and species of concern, project goals, climate impacts, and indicators of progress. Project teams identified 176 likely climate impacts and developed adaptation strategies to address 42 of these impacts. The most common impacts were to habitat quantity or quality, and to hydrologic regimes. Nearly half of expected impacts were temperature-mediated. Twelve projects indicated that the project focus, either focal ecosystems and species or project boundaries, need to change as a result of considering climate impacts. More than half of the adaptation strategies were resistance strategies aimed at preserving the status quo. The rest aimed to make ecosystems and species more resilient in the face of expected changes. All projects altered strategies in some way, either by adding new actions, or by adjusting existing actions. Habitat restoration and enactment of policies and regulations were the most frequently prescribed, though every adaptation strategy required a unique combination of actions. While the effectiveness of these adaptation strategies remains to be evaluated, the application of consistent guidance has yielded important early lessons about how, when, and how often conservation projects may need to be modified to adapt to climate change.

Implementing Climate Change Adaptation – Lessons Learned from Ten Examples

This paper presents ten examples of cities and counties around the country. Each highlights the key lessons learned in the process of moving from planning to implementation on climate adaptation. The purpose of this report is to inform and inspire other communities in their efforts to advance climate adaptation. We also hope this report will be useful to organizations dedicated to helping communities adapt to climate change.

Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis: A Report from the Climate Change Response Framework Project in Northern Wisconsin

The forests of northern Wisconsin will likely experience dramatic changes over the next 100 years as a result of climate change. This assessment evaluates key forest ecosystem vulnerabilities to climate change across northern Wisconsin under a range of future climate scenarios with a focus on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. We describe the contemporary landscape and major existing climate trends using state climatological data, as well as potential future climate trends for this region using downscaled global data from general circulation models. We identify potential vulnerabilities by incorporating these future climate projections into species distribution and ecosystem process models and assessing potential changes to northern Wisconsin forests. Warmer temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are expected to infl uence ecosystem drivers and increase stressors, including more frequent disturbances and increased amount or severity of pests and diseases. Forest ecosystems will continue to adapt to changing conditions. Even under conservative climate change scenarios, suitable habitat for many tree species is expected to move northward. Many species, including balsam fi r, white spruce, paper birch, and quaking aspen, are projected to decline as their suitable habitat decreases in quality and extent. Certain species, communities, and ecosystems may not be particularly resilient to the increases in stress or changes in habitat, and they may be subject to severe declines in abundance or may be lost entirely from the landscape. These include fragmented and static ecosystems, as well as ecosystems containing rare species or species already in decline. Identifying vulnerable species and forests can help landowners, managers, regulators, and policymakers establish priorities for management and monitoring.

The application of a hierarchical, decision-support system to evaluate multi-objective forest management strategies: a case study in northeastern British Columbia, Canad

ncreases in the environmental awareness of global consumers coupled with pressure from regional stakeholders has forced forest managers to demonstrate the potential implications of forest management activities for a broad range of indicators. This paper describes the construction and application of a hierarchical decision-support system for evaluating multi-objective management options for a 288,000 ha forest in northeastern British Columbia. The decision-support system includes a stand-level model, a forest estate model, a habitat model and a visualization model.