The Added Complications of Climate Change: Understanding and Managing Biodiversity and Ecosystems

Ecosystems around the world are already threatened by land-use and land-cover change, extraction of natural resources, biological disturbances, and pollution. These environmental stressors have been the primary source of ecosystem degradation to date, and climate change is now exacerbating some of their effects. Ecosystems already under stress are likely to have more rapid and acute reactions to climate change; it is therefore useful to understand how multiple stresses will interact, especially as the magnitude of climate change increases. Understanding these interactions could be critically important in the design of climate adaptation strategies, especially because actions taken by other sectors (eg energy, agriculture, transportation) to address climate change may create new ecosystem stresses.

 

Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change in California: Nine Guiding Principles

The goal of this project is to develop a set of scientifically sound, pragmatic, and broadly supported Guiding Principles to help ensure that conservation investments and management choices yield durable benefits in the face of climate change.

The Guiding Principles presented here were developed through a process that combined working with an Expert Panel of leading scientists; consulting with leaders and experts in state government, conservation organizations, and the scientific community; and iterative review of draft documents by technical experts and potential users of the principles.

The focus of this effort is on land-based, freshwater, and tidal systems. Although some principles may be relevant, the panel did not consider marine systems in developing the Guiding Principles.

 

The Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature

Location

United States
41° 52' 41.2104" N, 87° 37' 47.2728" W
US
Organization: 
Summary: 

In 2010, Chicago Wilderness released its Climate Action Plan for Nature, a strategy to help conserve regional biodiversity in a changing climate. This report is the culmination of the efforts of a collaborative team composed of the Chicago Wilderness alliance’s 37-member Climate Change Task Force, scientific experts, and large conservation groups.

The State of Adaptation in the United States: An Overview

The State of Adaptation in the United States, a synthesis commissioned and supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and undertaken by EcoAdapt, the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University, and the University of California-Davis, provides examples of societal responses to climate change in our planning and management of cities, agriculture and natural resources. These examples include regulatory measures, management strategies and information sharing.

Chapter 1: An Overview of Opportunities
Lara J. Hansen, Ph.D.
Focus: Climate Change Adaptation and the U.S. Military
Rachel M. Gregg, M.M.A.
Chapter 2: Promoting Adaptation through Policy
Vicki Arroyo, J.D.
Chapter 3: Scope of Agricultural Adaptation in the United States: The Need for Agricultural Adaptation
Louise Jackson, Ph.D. and Susan Ellsworth, M.S.
Chapter 4: Preparing Human Communities and the Built Environment for Climate Change
Amy Snover, Ph.D.
Focus: Climate Change and Human Health
Amy Snover, Ph.D.
Chapter 5: How Climate Savvy is Natural Resource Management in the United States?
Lara J. Hansen, Ph.D. and Rachel M. Gregg, M.M.A.

Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Communities: Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies

Location

United States
46° 28' 55.2144" N, 84° 34' 21.9144" W
US
Organization: 
Summary: 

Coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes region will be impacted by climate change. Namely, changes in water level could have dire consequences for existing wetlands and dependent bird and fish communities. To examine the impacts climate change may cause to coastal wetlands, project staff assessed vulnerabilities and evaluated adaptation options.

National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

Fish, wildlife, and plants provide jobs, food, clean water, storm protection, health benefits and many other important ecosystem services that support people, communities and economies across the nation every day. The observed changes in the climate are already impacting these valuable resources and systems. These impacts are expected to increase with continued changes in the planet’s climate system. Action is needed now to help safeguard these natural resources and the communities and economies that depend on them.

Faced with a future climate that will be unlike that of the recent past, the nation has the opportunity to act now to reduce the impacts of climate change on its valuable natural resources and resource-dependent communities and businesses. Preparing for and addressing these changes in the near term can help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of actions to reduce negative impacts and take advantage of potential benefits from a changing climate (climate adaptation). In 2009, Congress recognized the need for a national government-wide climate adaptation strategy for fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems, asking the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to develop such a strategy. CEQ and DOI responded by assembling an unprecedented partnership of federal, state, and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies to draft the document. More than 90 diverse technical, scientific, and management experts from across the country participated in drafting the technical content of the document.

The result is The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (hereafter Strategy). The Strategy is the first joint effort of three levels of government (federal, state, and tribal) that have primary authority and responsibility for the living resources of the United States to identify what must be done to help these resources become more resilient, adapt to, and survive a warming climate. It is designed to inspire and enable natural resource managers, legislators and other decision makers to take effective steps towards climate change adaptation over the next five to ten years. Federal, state, and tribal governments and conservation partners are encouraged to read the Strategy in its entirety to identify intersections between the document and their mission areas and activities.

The Strategy is guided by nine principles. These principles include collaborating across all levels of government, working with non-government entities such as private landowners and other sectors like agriculture and energy, and engaging the public. It is also important to use the best available science—and to identify where science and management capabilities must be improved or enhanced. When adaptation steps are taken, it is crucial to carefully monitor actual outcomes in order to adjust future actions to make them more effective, an iterative process called adaptive management. We must also link efforts within the U.S. with efforts internationally to build resilience and adaptation for species that migrate and depend on areas beyond U.S. borders. Finally, given the size and urgency of the challenge, we must begin acting now.

Climate Change Adaptation Planning at the State Level in Minnesota

Location

United States
46° 42' 47.7072" N, 94° 31' 34.9212" W
US
Summary: 

The Minnesota Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT) and the state Climate Change Adaptation Working Group (CCAWG) are complementary initiatives designed to address and develop responses to the effects of climate change. These groups and their members are developing and implementing strategies to advance climate change adaptation in the state in order to limit negative effects, take advantage of potential opportunities, and improve the resilience of natural and human systems in a changing climate.

Preserving the Pika: Understanding Habitat Needs with Changing Climate Conditions in Montana

Location

United States
47° 36' 34.632" N, 114° 39' 11.952" W
US
Organization: 
Summary: 

American pikas, a cousin of the rabbit, live on boulder fields and talus slopes at high elevations in the Intermountain West. Pikas are particularly vulnerable to increasing temperatures as a result of climate change, and will need to adapt by shifting their ranges to higher altitudes or by finding microclimate refugia that are buffered from extremes. Unfortunately, little is known about the locations and numbers of pika populations in Montana, making it difficult for managers to develop strategies and actions to enable pikas to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The High Divide Project: Maintaining and Enhancing Core and Connectivity Habitats for Wildlife

Location

United States
46° 33' 57.2832" N, 114° 47' 6.5616" W
US
Organization: 
Summary: 

The High Divide region links together core protected areas in Montana and Idaho and is an important migration corridor for big game, grizzly bears, and other carnivores. To help maintain critical linkage areas in the region, the Craighead Institute is working on a set of conservation planning tools intended to guide wildlife-friendly land use and development. The implementation of these tools will help ensure that animal migration routes remain open, allowing wildlife to adapt to changing climate conditions.

Crucial Areas Planning System (CAPS): Identifying Critical Areas and Fish and Wildlife Corridors in Montana

Location

United States
46° 1' 9.6492" N, 108° 27' 25.3116" W
US
Summary: 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is conducting a Crucial Areas Assessment, which includes identifying and ranking core areas important for wildlife as well as key wildlife connectivity areas. One of the main products of this effort is the Crucial Areas Planning System (CAPS), a mapping service aimed at helping county planners, developers, non-governmental organizations, and others make smarter development and conservation decisions.