Tools for Assessing Climate Impacts on Fish and Wildlife
Climate change is already affecting many fish and wildlife populations. Managing these populations requires an understanding of the nature, magnitude, and distribution of current and future climate impacts. Scientists and managers have at their disposal a wide array of models for projecting climate impacts that can be used to build such an understanding. Here, we provide a broad overview of the types of models available for forecasting the effects of climate change on key processes that affect fish and wildlife habitat (hydrology, fire, and vegetation), as well as on individual species distributions and populations. We present a framework for how climate-impacts modeling can be used to address management concerns, providing examples of model-based assessments of climate impacts on salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest, fire regimes in the boreal region of Canada, prairies and savannas in the Willamette Valley-Puget Sound Trough-Georgia Basin ecoregion, and marten Martes americana populations in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. We also highlight some key limitations of these models and discuss how such limitations should be managed. We conclude with a general discussion of how these models can be integrated into fish and wildlife management.