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Abstract

The impact of climate change on cold-water ecosystems—and the cold-adapted native salmonids present in these systems—is the subject of a substantial body of research.. Recently, scientists have developed a number of datasets and analyses that provide insight into projections of climate change e ects on native salmonid populations in the northern U.S. Rockies region. Alongside this research, a number of management options for helping native salmonids respond to the e ects of climate change—also known as ‘climate adaptation’ strategies and actions—have been identi ed by scientists and managers in the region. These analyses and climate adaptation options o er valuable information to managers charged with making di cult decisions about where and how to best conserve and restore the region’s native salmonids given the challenges posed by shifting climatic conditions. Yet managers in the region continue to identify challenges in applying available information on climate change impacts, particularly in determining forward-looking conservation goals and selecting appropriate actions from the long menu of available climate adaptation options.

 

To augment this research and compilation of climate-informed management options, we have developed a decision support framework aimed at helping managers think critically about how to apply climate information to their management decisions. Speci cally, our framework is meant to help managers:

1) articulate an appropriate conservation goal for cold-adapted native salmonid populations taking into account the impacts of climate change on habitat suitability, threats from non-native sh, and connectivity;

2) consider the climate adaptation strategies that might best support that goal; and

3) identify actions that are available to implement the chosen strategies.

Given the complexity and uncertainty of conserving cold-adapted species in an era of rapid climate change and the limited resources available for conservation, choices about where to invest conservation dollars require defensible and transparent decision making. The three-step decision framework we provide here is meant to be a starting point to help managers document how they have incorporated information on climate change into their management decisions and prioritization of limited resources. The process used to develop the framework for native salmonids can be used to tailor decision support for additional conservation targets of interest. Ultimately, managers can integrate this climate change thinking into existing conservation strategies and management plans, alongside the myriad other regulatory, social, economic and locally-driven factors and mandates that in uence management decisions.

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