In this report, we evaluate adaptation issues for natural ecosystems. We will specifically focus on the interactions with the abiotic environment of plants and animals, along with other organisms with which they interact (e.g., disease‐causing bacteria and viruses). We further limit ourselves to natural ecosystems in which the predominant vegetation has developed without having been planted, irrigated, or fertilized. Most of the natural lands in the United States are managed by federal or state governments.
This review focuses first on types of socioeconomic and biotic adaptations. Many individuals, public agencies, and nongovernmental organizations are discovering ways to protect biodiversity and sustain natural ecological processes. Five case studies are highlighted to illustrate some of these alternative adaptive responses to climatic changes at local and regional scales. These approaches could be modified for use in other locations.
This document describes five critical elements of adaptation planning, and provides examples of these elements and suggestions for additional resources. Any estuary in the National Estuary Program (NEP) should incorporate these elements in an adaptation plan to achieve recognition as a Climate Ready Estuary (CRE). While specifically developed for the NEPs, this document can be used as a resource for other coastal communities as a starting point for planning to adapt to climate change.
Ecological thresholds occur when external factors, positive feedbacks, or nonlinear instabilities in a system cause changes to propagate in a domino-like fashion that are potentially irreversible. This report reviews threshold changes in North American ecosystems that are potentially induced by climatic change and addresses the significant challenges these threshold crossings impose on resource and land managers.
The U.S. Government’s Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is responsible for providing the best science-based knowledge possible to inform management of the risks and opportunities associated with changes in the climate and related environmental systems. To support its mission, the CCSP has commissioned 21 “synthesis and assessment products” (SAPs) to advance decision making on climate change-related issues by providing current evaluations of climate change science and identifying priorities for research, observation, and decision support.