Assessing potential impacts of climate change on carnivore occupancy and snowshoe hare demography along elevational and latitudinal gradients in the Northeastern U.S.

Project Leader: 
Project Fellows: 
Status: 
Ongoing
Science Themes: 

This project is evaluating the relative influence of climate, habitat, and competition on predator-prey dynamics with a focus on Canada lynx, American marten, and snowshoe hares.  Snowshoe hares are a keystone species in the boreal forest and vulnerable to climate change. The goal is to understand how current community dynamics may be altered given predicted changes in climate and habitat to inform conservation and management in the region.  Collecting baseline data on abundance, survival, and habitat preference will also be useful for management decisions and to understand local fluctuations of predator species.

This project aims to better predict how direct and indirect effects of climate change will affect species distribution and abundance.  Preliminary results show that lynx and martens are more commonly found at high elevations and northern latitudes whereas generalist carnivores (bobcat, coyote, fisher) are located at lower elevation sites.  After snowmelt, increased use of high elevation sites is common for generalist carnivores.  Pellet counts of snowshoe hares are higher at lowland and montane spruce-fir sites.

Publications: 

 

 

Presentations: 
  • Sirén, Alexej P. K. Species Status Assessment (Canada lynx), oral presenation at Minneapolis, MN workshop in October 2015
  • Northeastern Natural History Conference, oral presentation at conference in April 2016
  • "Implementing climate adaptation strategies" - U.S. Forest Service First Fridays on Climate Change Talks webinar, March 2016.
  • "Implementing climate adaptation strategies" -NCCWSC webinar, December 2015
  • "Mountains without snow: What are the consequences?"  MtnClim 2016
  • "A Community Perspective on the Effects of Climate Change on Species Distributions in the Boreal Forest of the Northeastern United States" AGU 2016 Fall Meeting, San Francisco CA. December 14, 2016. 
  • Northeast Forest Carnivore Working Group Workshop, SUNY-ESF Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC); Newcomb, NY, September 28-29, 2017

 

Other: 
  • Collaborator workshop at the Silvio O'Conte Nulhegan Division National Wildlife Refuge took place October 6-7, 2016 to discuss research objectives, showcase snowshoe hare monitoring sites, train participants in field and data management protocols, and take a field tour of lynx study area.
  • Conservation Connection-Adaptations to the Cold, Umass Radio. April 11, 2017.