LCC News

GCPO LCC Gets a New Geomatics Coordinator

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

It’s a time of transition for the GCPO. Dr. Kristine Evans left her position as Geomatics Coordinator in December to pursue her dreams as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University. The LCC made great strides under her leadership and we are very grateful that she will continue to serve the LCC as a liaison to MSU.

There was strong competition among the applicants for the Geomatics Coordinator. In the final analysis, Dr. Toby Gray rose to the top. He brings a deep passion for conservation and strong geospatial skills to the team. Since 2014, Toby has been working as a researcher for the LCC, primarily focused on completing the Ecological Assessments for Grasslands and Open Pine. 

We are happy to announce that Dr. Gray has verbally accepted the Geomatics Coordinator Position.  Barring any delays, Toby will officially take the mantle by March 1st. Given his familiarity with the LCC, we know that Toby will hit the ground running. In fact, he is already working to host a Grasslands Conservation Workshop for the end of February. You can contact Toby at toby@gri.msstate.edu for more information.

Toby is very excited about the opportunities that lay ahead. In his own words:

“I have been very fortunate to have spent the past two-and-a-half years as a Research Associate for the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Getting to know so many of our partners across the region and developing a greater understanding of the challenges to science-based landscape conservation design, not to mention walking through and observing so many representative landscapes up close, has been a great experience. I have also benefitted greatly by having an excellent geomatics coordinator, project leader, wildlife biologist, and collaborator in Dr. Kristine Evans in the office right next door to mine. When it comes to using geospatial data to answer questions and develop tools to serve the cause of landscape conservation, the challenges loom large. Raw data are ubiquitous, housed in many different locations, in many different formats, and developed under varying protocols to serve many different purposes. Conservation is applied across the region by a diverse constellation of partners working at different scales in different ecological systems for different agencies, universities, and organizations. To meet these challenges, we have an excellent staff here at the GCPO LCC, with strong connections to a network of skilled scientists, universities, and research institutes. We have very sophisticated geospatial tools, with more tools coming online almost monthly. This is a very exciting time to be working in geospatial science, and, for me, there is no other field in which I would like to apply my expertise more than that of large landscape conservation.”

Up next: Read about how to make local governments want more green infrastructure 

Transitioning into 2017

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

A few weeks ago, the GCPO LCC staff gathered in Starkville, MS, for a 2-day staff retreat, where we started laying out our work plans and priorities for 2017. Our staff, because we work for multiple partner agencies and are physically located in offices across the LCC, get together frequently for staff conference calls, and we also come together a couple times a year for in-person staff retreats. We have found this to be an effective way of working together, and to keep up with what each of us is working on.

This year, the focus of our discussions is on transition. I had laid out a vision for that transition in a presentation I made to the Steering Committee last fall. That presentation recognized that our LCC had just completed its Conservation Blueprint 1.0, and we had also completed most of our Ecological Assessments work, which fed into the Blueprint. These were major milestones for our partnership, and they were important contributions to the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). The question before us now was “Where should we focus our attention now?” Answering that question was the primary purpose of our meeting in Starkville. Our discussions were focused on 3 large topics: 1) Building towards a Blueprint 2.0; 2) Ecosystem services and human dimensions; and 3) Landscape conservation design.

  1. Building towards a Blueprint 2.0 – enhancing, improving, and updating the Blueprint will continue to be a primary focus for the GCPO LCC. As we move forward, that will entail the incorporation of species-habitat models into the Blueprint. Those models will more explicitly articulate the relationship between priority species habitat needs, and the availability of that habitat, both currently and in the future, in the LCC. To accomplish this work, the GCPO LCC is securing the services of 2 post-doctoral positions, one focused on terrestrial species and the other on aquatics, for the next 2 years.

  2. Ecosystem Services and Human Dimensions – our Strategic Plan identifies ecosystem services as an important science undertaking for the GCPO LCC. We have funded one research project on Ecosystem Services that was wrapped up recently, and which I believe will really help us in forging ahead in this important area. Mapping the potential ecological services in the GCPO, and better understanding landowners’ preferences on ecological services that they might want to provide on their lands, provide our science staff a good foundation for developing strategies for promoting various conservation practices in our region. These strategies can be linked up to our Blueprint information to build a more effective and sustainable landscape.
  3. Landscape Conservation Design (LCD) – last fall, our Steering Committee heard from Tina Chouinard of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS or Service) about the Service’s new direction in implementing their Strategic Growth Policy. A new guidance document on Landscape Conservation Design released by the Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in October 2016, provides direction by which NWRs should participate in LCD processes, and articulates the responsibilities of the USFWS in the “collaborative processes and product development associated with LCD." The Guidance document further suggests that NWRs should work with LCCs or other “landscape-scale partnership that facilitates cooperation, collaboration, and coordination across multiple stakeholders in developing a Landscape Conservation Design.” The GCPO has approximately 60 NWRs, so there is going to be a tremendous need in our LCC for NWRs to be involved in the LCD process that we’re undertaking.

    To be effective and to meet the larger purpose of an LCD, the GCPO’s LCDs must include more than NWRs in designing a landscape of the future. Our other partners, such as the Forest Service and state partners, have significant land holdings in the GCPO. There are also vast acreages of private lands in our geography, some held by corporate interests, and other partners such as tribes have smaller acreages that are nonetheless significant in a landscape conservation design.  LCCs attempt to bring all these pieces of the puzzle together into a coherent vision of a sustainable landscape.

Transition can be an uncomfortable exercise, especially when priorities change, and as I write this, we are still in the very earliest stages of President Trump’s administration and transition. I’m sure that much of the uncertainty surrounding the current transition will clear up as new leadership gets installed in the Department of the Interior, and as priorities and policies are communicated to our federal partner agencies. In the meantime, the priorities of the GCPO LCC remain the same as they were in 2016, and as directed by our Steering Committee’s decisions over the years. We’ll continue to provide science-based products, tools and recommendations to achieve our vision “to ensure natural and cultural landscapes capable of sustaining healthy ecosystems, clean water, fish, wildlife, and human communities in the 180-million acre Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks region through the 21st century.”

Up next: Read about a new online tool and datasets that will help coastal communities transition into a focus on resilience to sea level rise.

Transitioning into 2017

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

A few weeks ago, the Science Team for the GCPO LCC gathered in Starkville, MS, for a 2-day staff retreat, where we started laying out our work plans and priorities for 2017. Our staff, because we work for multiple partner agencies, and are physically located in offices across the LCC, get together frequently for staff conference calls, and we also come together a couple times a year for in-person staff retreats. We have found this to be an effective way of working together, and to keep up with what each of us is working on.

This year, the focus of our discussions is on transition. I had laid out a vision for that transition in a presentation I made to the Steering Committee last fall. That presentation recognized that our LCC had just completed its Conservation Blueprint 1.0, and we had also completed most of our Ecological Assessments work, which fed into the Blueprint. These were major milestones for our partnership, and they were important contributions to the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). The question before us now was “Where should we focus our attention now?” Answering that question was the primary purpose of our meeting in Starkville. Our discussions were focused on 3 large topics: 1) Building towards a Blueprint 2.0; 2) Ecosystem services and human dimensions, and; 3) Landscape conservation design.

  1. Building towards a Blueprint 2.0 – enhancing, improving, and updating the Blueprint will continue to be a primary focus for the GCPO LCC. As we move forward, that will entail the incorporation of species-habitat models into the Blueprint. Those models will more explicitly articulate the relationship between priority species habitat needs, and the availability of that habitat, both currently and in the future, in the LCC. To accomplish this work, the GCPO LCC is securing the services of 2 post-doctoral positions, one focused on terrestrial species and the other on aquatics, for the next 2 years.

  2. Ecosystem Services and Human Dimensions – our Strategic Plan identifies ecosystem services as an important science undertaking for the GCPO LCC. We have funded one research project on Ecosystem Services that was wrapped up recently, and which I believe will really help us in forging ahead in this important area. Mapping the potential ecological services in the GCPO, and better understanding landowners’ preferences on ecological services that they might want to provide on their lands, provide our science staff a good foundation for developing strategies for promoting various conservation practices in our region. These strategies can be linked up to our Blueprint information to build a more effective and sustainable landscape.
  3. Landscape Conservation Design (LCD) – last fall, our Steering Committee heard from Tina Chouinard of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS or Service) about the Service’s new direction in implementing their Strategic Growth Policy. A new guidance document on Landscape Conservation Design released by the Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in October 2016, provides direction by which NWRs should participate in LCD processes, and articulates the responsibilities of the USFWS in the “collaborative processes and product development associated with LCD. The Guidance document further suggests that NWR’s should work with LCC’s or other “landscape-scale partnership that facilitates cooperation, collaboration, and coordination across multiple stakeholders.in developing a Landscape Conservation Design”. The GCPO has approximately 60 NWR’s, so there is going to be a tremendous need in our LCC for NWR’s to be involved in the LCD process that we’re undertaking.

    To be effective and to meet the larger purpose of an LCD, the GCPO’s LCDs must include more than NWRs in designing a landscape of the future. Our other partners, such as the Forest Service and state partners, have significant land holdings in the GCPO. There are also vast acreages of private lands in our geography, some held by corporate interests, and other partners such as tribes have smaller acreages that are nonetheless significant in a landscape conservation design.  LCCs attempt to bring all these pieces of the puzzle together into a coherent vision of a sustainable landscape.

Transition can be an uncomfortable exercise, especially when priorities change, and as I write this, we are still in the very earliest stages of President Trump’s administration and transition. I’m sure that much of the uncertainty surrounding the current transition will clear up as new leadership gets installed in the Department of the Interior, and as priorities and policies are communicated to our federal partner agencies. In the meantime, the priorities of the GCPO LCC remain the same as they were in 2016, and as directed by our Steering Committee’s decisions over the years. We’ll continue to provide science-based products, tools and recommendations to achieve our vision “to ensure natural and cultural landscapes capable of sustaining healthy ecosystems, clean water, fish, wildlife, and human communities in the 180-million acre Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks region through the 21st century.”

A Conservation Action Map for the TRB Network

Appalachian LCC News -

The first iteration of this Map is now available on our Web Portal and can be accessed.

Building on this momentum, the Network is now identifying data resources and other information derived from these activities and, when possible, providing access to these resources via the Conservation Action Map and Network portal. Members will continue to be able to enter additional projects to the Conservation Map and tag new resources produced from their efforts.

Biennial Spotlight on National Park Resources

Appalachian LCC News -

View all the talks and posters here

In partnership with the National Park Service, the Appalachian LCC is providing an online presence for this collection of talks and posters for our many conservation and natural resource partners. The 2016 Spotlight features contributions from parks in the National Capital Region. Issues discussed range from white-nose syndrome to coastal vegetation change, from the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act to integrating cultural resources at a landscape scale.

We like to thank Perry Wheelock, Associate Regional Director of Resource Stewardship and Science, and her natural and cultural resources staff for assistance developing this online presence.

LCC Science Helping to Target Restoration Sites to Improve Water Quality in the Susquehanna and Potomac Watersheds

Appalachian LCC News -

At a recent meeting with state agency partners, Appalachian LCC science and decision-support tools were presented to demonstrate how they could help identify priority sites for restoration that would also accrue fish and wildlife benefits.

On January 5th, USFWS Science Applications Assistant Regional Director Ken Elowe and Acting North Atlantic LCC Coordinator Mike Slattery attended a meeting in Harrisburg, PA with state agency partners focused on identifying and streamlining restoration activities at priority sites in these key watersheds. The Appalachian LCC riparian restoration decision support tool – which allows users to identify vulnerable stream and riverbanks that lack tree cover and shade in coldwater stream habitats in order to plant trees and provide shade - was of particular interest, as the Commonwealth is planning on using these funds for riparian buffer plantings as well as developing a riparian buffer incentive program.

Following up on the meeting, a science delivery tools workshop has been proposed where personnel from the Appalachian and North Atlantic LCC will present their tools, science products and other information to staff of state fish and wildlife agencies from PA, NY, and perhaps NJ.

Putting LCC Products into Hands of Practitioners in the Southeast

Appalachian LCC News -

Each workshop will be tailored to the specific interests and needs of participants to better translate the utility of Appalachian LCC resources. These events will also provide staff valuable feedback from end users on how to refine and improve products while continuing a dialogue on how the LCC can better serve partners to improve success in conservation delivery.

The first of these workshops in 2017 will be held in Crossville, TN on February 9th and 10th. Developed in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA), this workshop will include presentations, facilitated group discussions, and case studies tailored to TWRA staff and their key partners’ current conservation efforts. The objectives are for participants to

  • Walk away with a better understanding of the landscape-level approach to conservation
  • Identify how their efforts fit into this “bigger” picture
  • Develop an understanding and identify the utility of Regional Conservation Designs, and
  • Begin to apply Appalachian LCC resources to their conservation planning and management efforts.


A second workshop is being planned with Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge staff and partners in Alabama for March. If you are interested in learning more about these workshops as well as potential opportunities to host one for your staff/partners, please contact Gillian Bee, Appalachian LCC Landscape Conservation Fellow (gilliab@clemson.edu / 970-342-6034).

Learning from Each Other Within the LCC Family

Appalachian LCC News -

This great opportunity benefitted both Jean and the LCC and helped expand what it means to be part of the National LCC Network. Jean remarked how this learning opportunity greatly expanded in her mind the conceptual framework of what constitutes the role of an LCC.

Coming from the lower 48 to experience the vast Arctic wilderness was a dramatic landscape challenge given its vast and remote expanse, socio-cultural values of subsistence livelihoods of native communities, and expanding conservation work with land-managers and industry to design for nature, economic growth, and cultural heritage. As one of the original LCC Coordinators, Jean was able to share with the Dr. Wendy Loya and Josh Bradley of the Arctic LCC her experiences in building a collaborative partnership, identifying strategic programmatic and research direction, and sharing current efforts to promote the LCCs science delivery as well as supporting conservation networks, communication, and training in building capacity across the LCC geography. Based in the Anchorage FWS Headquarters, Jean was also able to work closely with the other Alaska LCC Coordinators and staff of the Western Alaska, Northwest Boreal, and Aleutian Bering Sea Island LCCs.

New Student Conservation Associate Provides Educational Outreach Capacity to LCC and Refuge

Appalachian LCC News -

Through the Student Conservation Association, Kelly is working out of the Refuge's Williamstown, West Virginia location and developing interpretive materials to provide the general public with a greater understanding and appreciation of Refuges and their role in the Appalachian landscape. This position - partially funded by the LCC - is enhancing outreach capacity for the Refuge while reinforcing the mission of the LCC and the message of working at a landscape level.

The Student Conservation Association mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.

Appalachian LCC GIS Analyst and Information Manager Heads Out West

Appalachian LCC News -

Jessica joined the Appalachian LCC team in a joint position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. During her time with the LCC, she was essential in conducting GIS analysis for strategic planning and prioritization activities. The Appalachian LCC family wishes Jessica all the best on her next adventures.

Blue Ridge PRISM Update

Appalachian LCC News -

RCPP Update
Applications for our landowner assistance program were accepted starting mid-November. The first application period closed on December 17th; the second closed on Jan 20th and the third is now open (ending Feb 17th). So far we have been told that 66 applications have been approved, consuming $437,000 of the available funds, leaving $206,000 left to be committed. 19 applications have already been submitted, but not yet approved. This represents a very fast start for the program and is a testimonial both to the need for the program as well as our ability to reach interested landowners.
In the last two months we ironed out the remaining details of the program with the NRCS and then publicized the program through public presentations, press releases, posters on community bulletin boards and emails to our mailing list and our partners' email lists. In conjunction with the VA Dept of Forestry and the NRCS we developed training courses for the NRCS and VDOF staffs involved in the program and held two training sessions. We also held a separate session for contractors who were interested in learning more about the program as well as how to identify and treat many of the more common invasive plants. Many thanks to all of you who worked to get this program successfully launched and to those of you who are participating in the program. For those of you who are participants please keep us informed of any issues you encounter with the program - or other feedback you care to share.

Education and Outreach
In addition to the RCPP activities described above we tabled or presented at various venues including:
- Rural Ridge Harvest Festival near North Garden in Albemarle County
- Pesticide applicators recertification training session in Nelson County
- Blue Ridge School in St. George, VA

Working with other CWMAs
We are continuing our collaboration discussions with the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area, a neighboring cooperative weed management area (CWMA) headquartered in West Virginia. We also became aware that another CWMA is being formed in Northern Virginia – we will provide more information as their plans develop.

General Management
We now have eight organizations and individuals who have signed the PRISM’s General Agreement and who now constitute the Steering Committee. The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held earlier this month. They will likely meet quarterly and provide input to the plans of the PRISM and suggestions related to the challenges we face. The day-to-day management of the PRISM is done by your Leadership Team. This group has begun to have regular meetings and phone calls to manage the PRISM’s activities. If any of you would like to learn more about how to join this group, let me know and I will be happy to provide more information. As part of our planning efforts, we are working on revising the PRISM’s strategic plan. An outline of our current thinking is attached (the 3-5 year vision document). Feel free to make comments or suggestions.

Grants and fundraising
For the second year in a row we submitted a proposal to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Pulling Together Initiative and were turned down. Both times they commended us for the quality of our proposal, encouraged us to continue to apply and explained that they have many, many highly qualified applicants. This year they made 12 awards – all of them to CWMAs – most them seeking funding to form a new CWMA. We will continue to apply there. A variety of other grant related activities are underway, limited only by the availability of our teams time to work on them.

Prevention
Several of us continued to participate with the state level Invasive Species Advisory Council to assist in creating the new regulations that will govern the categorization of noxious weeds and limitations on their sale and movement within the state.

Research
We have a UVA 4th-year student working with us this spring to help assess the feasibility of using drones to identify and map specific invasive plants. If you have an interest in applying high tech to help with invasive plants and want to get involved, let me know.

Next Steps
In my prior email I also indicated we would conduct multiple information sessions around our 10-county area. The first of these will be held Feb 1st at JMU. You can find the dates and venues on our website as they are scheduled. These sessions have multiple purposes, namely introducing new people to the PRISM, providing updates on PRISM activities and providing updates and information on the RCPP program. You are all welcome to attend any of these. Also, we are planning to have our next quarterly meeting on Wednesday, April 19 from 1-4pm at a location to be determined. Please add it to your calendars.

Bringing Back Diversity in Eastern Forests for Landowners, Wildlife

Appalachian LCC News -

Healthy forests, just like healthy human populations, are sustained by a diversity of ages. Each group has a role to play in maintaining the whole community over the long term.

But healthy, diverse forests are on the decline across the eastern United States. A lack of natural and human-induced disturbances because of fire suppression and certain timber harvest methods have led the forested landscape to become largely homogenous.

These declines have had negative impacts on many different wildlife species, especially birds – like the cerulean warbler – that use different types of forests for different parts of their life cycle. Through a new project, the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV) is working with landowners and conservation partners to sustainably manage healthier forests, benefiting the declining cerulean warbler.

“Because three-fourths of the cerulean warbler’s distribution occurs on private lands, working with private landowners in this region is critical to the successful conservation of this songbird,” AMJV Coordinator Todd Fearer said about the cerulean warbler, which nests and raises its young in the treetops above the Appalachian Mountains.

AMJV, a partnership to restore and sustain native bird populations in the region, is working with landowners in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kentucky to provide assistance in managing healthier forests and restoring forests on mining sites. The AMJV is working with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), American Bird Conservancy and more than a dozen other conservation partners to provide technical and financial assistance to help landowners plan and implement sustainable forestry practices.

“Fortunately, good cerulean habitat is best created using sustainable forestry practices that can improve the health of the forest stand and improve the future value of timber, so it’s a win for both the birds and the landowners,” Fearer said.

Landowners have found these practices help to “reset the clock” on low-value forests by re-establishing a healthier and more valuable stand of trees.

The project has a goal to improve the health of at least 12,500 acres in priority areas. In its first year, the project led to the improvement of about 1,700 acres. The AMJV is also monitoring the response to forest improvement, tracking the use of these managed lands by cerulean warblers and other species.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a Farm Bill conservation program administered by NRCS, is investing $8 million in this project, and partners are leveraging an additional $8 million.

“One of the greatest strengths of the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures is the collective resources the partners bring to the table,” Fearer said. “We have more than 20 AMJV partners across five states assisting with this project, contributing direct, in-kind and logistical support. This gives us the opportunity to address a range of cerulean warbler conservation needs at a scale not feasible by any one organization.”

This project is part of a broader conservation effort in the East to help landowners manage for diverse forests. Through Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), NRCS has helped Appalachian landowners improve more than 13,000 acres for the golden-winged warbler, another iconic migratory songbird that relies on young forests for nesting.

“The Farm Bill provides landowners with a variety of tools to manage for more productive forests, including one-on-one technical assistance and financial assistance,” said Bridgett Costanzo, one of WLFW’s coordinators. “Every forest has different needs and resource challenges, and we work with landowners to tailor forest management plans to meet the needs of wildlife and their operations.”

Landowners wanting to participate in the AMJV’s effort for cerulean warbler are encouraged to reach out to the AMJV or their nearest USDA service center.

Climatic controls on the global distribution, abundance, and diversity of mangrove forests

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

Here’s the abstract and link to a new study that was recently published in Ecological Monographs.

Osland, M. J., L. C. Feher, K. T. Griffith, K. C. Cavanaugh, N. M. Enwright, R. H. Day, C. L. Stagg, K. W. Krauss, R. J. Howard, J. B. Grace, and K. Rogers. 2017. Climatic controls on the global distribution, abundance, and species richness of mangrove forests. Accepted to Ecological Monographs.

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1248/abstract

Abstract:

Mangrove forests are highly productive tidal saline wetland ecosystems found along sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts. Ecologists have long assumed that climatic drivers (i.e., temperature and rainfall regimes) govern the global distribution, structure, and function of mangrove forests. However, data constraints have hindered the quantification of direct climate-mangrove linkages in many parts of the world.

Recently, the quality and availability of global-scale climate and mangrove data have been improving. Here, we used these data to better understand the influence of air temperature and rainfall regimes upon the distribution, abundance, and species richness of mangrove forests. Although our analyses identify global-scale relationships and thresholds, we show that the influence of climatic drivers is best characterized via regional range limit-specific analyses. We quantified climatic controls across targeted gradients in temperature and/or rainfall within 14 mangrove distributional range limits.

Climatic thresholds for mangrove presence, abundance, and species richness differed among the 14 studied range limits. We identified minimum temperature-based thresholds for range limits in eastern North America, eastern Australia, New Zealand, eastern Asia, eastern South America, and southeast Africa. We identified rainfall-based thresholds for range limits in western North America, western Gulf of Mexico, western South America, western Australia, Middle East, northwest Africa, east central Africa, and west central Africa.

Our results show that in certain range limits (e.g., eastern North America, western Gulf of Mexico, eastern Asia), winter air temperature extremes play an especially important role. We conclude that rainfall and temperature regimes are both important in western North America, western Gulf of Mexico, and western Australia.

With climate change, alterations in temperature and rainfall regimes will affect the global distribution, abundance, and diversity of mangrove forests. In general, warmer winter temperatures are expected to allow mangroves to expand poleward at the expense of salt marshes. However, dispersal and habitat availability constraints may hinder expansion near certain range limits. Along arid and semi-arid coasts, decreases or increases in rainfall are expected to lead to mangrove contraction or expansion, respectively. Collectively, our analyses quantify climate-mangrove linkages and improve our understanding of the expected global- and regional-scale effects of climate change upon mangrove forests.

Up next: Read about a GCPO LCC-sponsored coastal resilience initiative along the Gulf Coast

Climatic controls on the global distribution, abundance, and diversity of mangrove forests

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

Here’s the abstract and link to a new study that was recently published in Ecological Monographs.

Osland, M. J., L. C. Feher, K. T. Griffith, K. C. Cavanaugh, N. M. Enwright, R. H. Day, C. L. Stagg, K. W. Krauss, R. J. Howard, J. B. Grace, and K. Rogers. 2017. Climatic controls on the global distribution, abundance, and species richness of mangrove forests. Accepted to Ecological Monographs.

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1248/abstract

Abstract:

Mangrove forests are highly productive tidal saline wetland ecosystems found along sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts. Ecologists have long assumed that climatic drivers (i.e., temperature and rainfall regimes) govern the global distribution, structure, and function of mangrove forests. However, data constraints have hindered the quantification of direct climate-mangrove linkages in many parts of the world.

Recently, the quality and availability of global-scale climate and mangrove data have been improving. Here, we used these data to better understand the influence of air temperature and rainfall regimes upon the distribution, abundance, and species richness of mangrove forests. Although our analyses identify global-scale relationships and thresholds, we show that the influence of climatic drivers is best characterized via regional range limit-specific analyses. We quantified climatic controls across targeted gradients in temperature and/or rainfall within 14 mangrove distributional range limits.

Climatic thresholds for mangrove presence, abundance, and species richness differed among the 14 studied range limits. We identified minimum temperature-based thresholds for range limits in eastern North America, eastern Australia, New Zealand, eastern Asia, eastern South America, and southeast Africa. We identified rainfall-based thresholds for range limits in western North America, western Gulf of Mexico, western South America, western Australia, Middle East, northwest Africa, east central Africa, and west central Africa.

Our results show that in certain range limits (e.g., eastern North America, western Gulf of Mexico, eastern Asia), winter air temperature extremes play an especially important role. We conclude that rainfall and temperature regimes are both important in western North America, western Gulf of Mexico, and western Australia.

With climate change, alterations in temperature and rainfall regimes will affect the global distribution, abundance, and diversity of mangrove forests. In general, warmer winter temperatures are expected to allow mangroves to expand poleward at the expense of salt marshes. However, dispersal and habitat availability constraints may hinder expansion near certain range limits. Along arid and semi-arid coasts, decreases or increases in rainfall are expected to lead to mangrove contraction or expansion, respectively. Collectively, our analyses quantify climate-mangrove linkages and improve our understanding of the expected global- and regional-scale effects of climate change upon mangrove forests.

Climatic controls on the global distribution, abundance, and diversity of mangrove forests

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

Here’s the abstract and link to a new study that was recently published in Ecological Monographs.

Osland, M. J., L. C. Feher, K. T. Griffith, K. C. Cavanaugh, N. M. Enwright, R. H. Day, C. L. Stagg, K. W. Krauss, R. J. Howard, J. B. Grace, and K. Rogers. 2017. Climatic controls on the global distribution, abundance, and species richness of mangrove forests. Accepted to Ecological Monographs.

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecm.1248/abstract

Abstract:

Mangrove forests are highly productive tidal saline wetland ecosystems found along sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts. Ecologists have long assumed that climatic drivers (i.e., temperature and rainfall regimes) govern the global distribution, structure, and function of mangrove forests. However, data constraints have hindered the quantification of direct climate-mangrove linkages in many parts of the world. Recently, the quality and availability of global-scale climate and mangrove data have been improving. Here, we used these data to better understand the influence of air temperature and rainfall regimes upon the distribution, abundance, and species richness of mangrove forests. Although our analyses identify global-scale relationships and thresholds, we show that the influence of climatic drivers is best characterized via regional range limit-specific analyses. We quantified climatic controls across targeted gradients in temperature and/or rainfall within 14 mangrove distributional range limits. Climatic thresholds for mangrove presence, abundance, and species richness differed among the 14 studied range limits. We identified minimum temperature-based thresholds for range limits in eastern North America, eastern Australia, New Zealand, eastern Asia, eastern South America, and southeast Africa. We identified rainfall-based thresholds for range limits in western North America, western Gulf of Mexico, western South America, western Australia, Middle East, northwest Africa, east central Africa, and west central Africa. Our results show that in certain range limits (e.g., eastern North America, western Gulf of Mexico, eastern Asia), winter air temperature extremes play an especially important role. We conclude that rainfall and temperature regimes are both important in western North America, western Gulf of Mexico, and western Australia. With climate change, alterations in temperature and rainfall regimes will affect the global distribution, abundance, and diversity of mangrove forests. In general, warmer winter temperatures are expected to allow mangroves to expand poleward at the expense of salt marshes. However, dispersal and habitat availability constraints may hinder expansion near certain range limits. Along arid and semi-arid coasts, decreases or increases in rainfall are expected to lead to mangrove contraction or expansion, respectively. Collectively, our analyses quantify climate-mangrove linkages and improve our understanding of the expected global- and regional-scale effects of climate change upon mangrove forests.

Temperature and rainfall controls on coastal wetlands in the northern Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

Coastal wetlands along the northern Gulf of Mexico are diverse. Salt marshes, mangrove forests, and salt flats are all different kinds of tidal saline wetland ecosystems that can be found in the region. In addition to supporting fish and wildlife, these coastal wetlands protect coastal communities, provide seafood, improve water quality, store carbon, and provide recreational opportunities.

Coastal ecologists have long known that temperature and rainfall regimes control the distribution and dominance of these different ecosystems. However, constraints in data quality and access have limited efforts to characterize the influence of climate on the region’s coastal wetlands. Below, I’ve included a link to a recent study published in Nature Climate Change where we used data from 10 estuaries in five states (TX, LA, MS, AL, and FL) to quantify these linkages and evaluate the implications of alternative future climate scenarios.

The results identify thresholds for mangrove forests, salt marshes, and salt flats. Within the region, small changes in temperature and/or rainfall can lead to large changes in ecosystem structure and function. For example, small changes in winter air temperature regimes (i.e., freeze events) can lead to mangrove expansion at the expense of salt marsh. And, in drier areas (south Texas), small changes in rainfall can alter salinity regimes and lead to the expansion or contraction of salt flats. Ecologists refer to these changes as ecological regime shifts. In coastal wetlands, such regime shifts can result in the gain and/or loss of certain ecosystem goods and services.

Citation: Gabler, C. A., M. J. Osland, J. B. Grace, C. L. Stagg, R. H. Day, S. B. Hartley, N. M. Enwright, A. S. From, M. L. McCoy, and J. L. McLeod. 2017. Macroclimatic change expected to transform coastal wetland ecosystems this century. Nature Climate Change.

Link: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate3203.html

Up next: Read about a GCPO LCC-sponsored coastal resilience initiative along the Gulf Coast

Temperature and rainfall controls on coastal wetlands in the northern Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC News -

Coastal wetlands along the northern Gulf of Mexico are diverse. Salt marshes, mangrove forests, and salt flats are all different kinds of tidal saline wetland ecosystems that can be found in the region. In addition to supporting fish and wildlife, these coastal wetlands protect coastal communities, provide seafood, improve water quality, store carbon, and provide recreational opportunities.

Coastal ecologists have long known that temperature and rainfall regimes control the distribution and dominance of these different ecosystems. However, constraints in data quality and access have limited efforts to characterize the influence of climate on the region’s coastal wetlands. Below, I’ve included a link to a recent study published in Nature Climate Change where we used data from 10 estuaries in five states (TX, LA, MS, AL, and FL) to quantify these linkages and evaluate the implications of alternative future climate scenarios.

The results identify thresholds for mangrove forests, salt marshes, and salt flats. Within the region, small changes in temperature and/or rainfall can lead to large changes in ecosystem structure and function. For example, small changes in winter air temperature regimes (i.e., freeze events) can lead to mangrove expansion at the expense of salt marsh. And, in drier areas (south Texas), small changes in rainfall can alter salinity regimes and lead to the expansion or contraction of salt flats. Ecologists refer to these changes as ecological regime shifts. In coastal wetlands, such regime shifts can result in the gain and/or loss of certain ecosystem goods and services.

Citation: Gabler, C. A., M. J. Osland, J. B. Grace, C. L. Stagg, R. H. Day, S. B. Hartley, N. M. Enwright, A. S. From, M. L. McCoy, and J. L. McLeod. 2017. Macroclimatic change expected to transform coastal wetland ecosystems this century. Nature Climate Change.

Link: http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate3203.html

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