Climate Change Avian Vulnerability Visualization and Analysis Tool for Land Managers: Expansion to NW CSC with Dynamic Vegetation Simulations

Joshua Lawler
Posted on: 7/18/2022 - Updated on: 6/14/2023

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CAKE Site Admin



Ecological systems are already responding to modern changes in climate. Many species are moving in directions and at rates that correspond with recent climatic change. Understanding how species distributions and abundances are likely to be altered can inform management and planning activities resulting in more robust management.

We projected climate-driven changes in the abundances and distributions of 31 focal bird species in Oregon and Washington using the latest downscaled CMIP5 climate projections and corresponding vegetation model outputs.

We mapped these future projections and integrated them into an existing web-based tool to allow managers and planners to access and download the projections. Our model outputs forecast significant changes in vegetation across much of Washington and Oregon by the end of the century. These changes are particularly dramatic east of the Cascade Mountains. Our bird models project much less dramatic changes in avian communities across the two states, but those changes tend to be largest in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains as well as across portions of the Columbia Plateau and in eastern and southeastern Oregon. Despite the smaller changes in avian communities, our models do project significant changes in abundance for some species in specific locations ranging from large increases to local extirpations.

Our results also show that for some bird species, vegetation model projections are particularly important for forecasting changes in abundances and distributions. For example, Columbia Plateau Low Sagebrush Steppe and Shrubland, Northern Rocky Mountain-Vancouverian Montane-Foothill Grassland, and Great Basin and Intermountain (Sagebrush) Shrubland and Steppe were particularly important predictors for Oregon Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus affinis). Dynamic general vegetation model (DGVM) outputs, such as fire, fuels, and carbon were important predictors of these habitat types.

In conclusion our results forecast significant climate-driven changes in vegetation for the region and highlight areas where nuanced management actions will be warranted.

Affiliated Organizations

Established in 2010, the Northwest CASC (NW CASC) provides regionally-relevant scientific information, tools, and techniques to resource managers and communities in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Its purpose is to provide scientific information, tools, and techniques that managers and other parties interested in land, water, wildlife and cultural resources can use to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change.

The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information.

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