US Fish and Wildlife Service

Also collaborating on these NE CSC projects

A Monarch's View of the City: Urban Monarch Landscape Conservation Design

The monarch butterfly is in trouble - monarch butterfly habitat has declined throughout most of the United States. Population levels have also exhibited a long-term downward trend with empirical evidence suggesting that loss of habitat is a major factor amongst other threats in driving declines . Preliminary research results from the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership indicates that stabilizing monarch populations will require a "conservation strategy across all land types" - including urban areas.

Quantifying shifting fish migration phenology across the Great Lakes

The timing of major life cycle events (reproduction, flowering, feeding) is set by seasonal environmental cues in many organisms.  Migratory fish in the Great Lakes are largely spring spawners, and they move into tributary rivers as the water warms in March-June.  There is growing evidence that the timing of these migrations is shifting under climate change, creating ever earlier migrations.  These changes in timing may profoundly change which species are present in rivers at a given time, potentially unraveling critical ecological linkages during the dynamic spring warming period.  We are

The Vulnerability of Northeastern Wildlife to Climate Change: Using decision science to inform management: A focus on climate change refugia

The field of climate adaptation is still getting established, and guidelines and examples for how to manage for climate change on-the-ground are still rare. The concept of climate change refugia, areas buffered from climate change that enable persistence of valued resources, is being discussed as a potential adaptation option in the face of anthropogenic climate change. This project seeks to provide practical guidance for how to operationalize this concept and to work with stakeholders to help prioritize actions to conserve climate change refugia.

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

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.

Using agent-based models to identify conservation solutions to large scale environmental variation and climate change

Effective migratory bird management and conservation requires an integrate approach at multiple spatial and temporal scales.  We are developing a spatially explicit agent-based model for dabbling ducks during spring migration. We are modeling foraging and resting behavior at prominent spring migration stopover sites throughout the midcontinent region.  Emergent properties of the working model include spring migration stopover duration, movement distances and survival.

Integrating Climate Change into the State Wildlife Action Plans

Fish and Wildlife agencies across the United States are currently revising their State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs). These documents are important planning documents over 10 year timescales.  SWAP Coordinators have been challenged to incorporate climate change impacts and species responses as part of their strategic approaches to managing vulnerable fish and wildlife resources.

Incorporating Social Drivers to Optimize Conservation Practices that Address Gulf Hypoxia and Declining Wildlife Populations Impacted by Extreme Climate Events

USFWS Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) throughout the Mississippi River Basin (MRB) have identified high nutrient runoff, a major contributor to Gulf hypoxia, and declines in wildlife populations (especially grassland and riparian birds), as conservation challenges requiring collaborative action. This project will develop a spatial decision support system (DSS) to address these issues.

Impact of red squirrel distributional shifts on resiliency of birds in the face of climate change

Little is known about how shifting small mammal populations in response to climate change will affect the bird species that they predate.  This project is relying on historical sampling and 2014 field surveys and trapping to examine how red squirrel populations have shifted in the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire and how birds may be affected by these shifts.

A climate dependent metapopulation model of Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum) in Western Massachusetts.

Marbled Salamander reproductive failure is tightly linked to vernal pool hydrology and there are concerns that changes in precipitation patterns predicted due to climate change (drier summers and wetter winters with precipitation being more episodic), along with increased summer temperatures (increased evaporation and evapotranspiration) will significantly change current vernal pool hydrology and possibly lead to more frequent incidents of Marbled Salamander reproductive failure.

Effects of small impoundments on stream temperature regimes in the context of a changing climate

Small dams and impoundments are ubiquitous in stream networks in the northeastern and north central US.  Concerns about their effects on stream fish population connectivity and their risks to human infrastructure and safety have prompted efforts to remove many of these dams.  Dams also have  potentially significant impacts on stream thermal regimes, and as a consequence their removal may either ameliorate or exacerbate effects of increasing air temperatures.  Also, given their ubiquity, temperature modeling and monitoring efforts need to account for the effects of small impoundments for ass

The use of climate and land cover to predict avian abundance across the Midwestern United States.

We are using a Bayesian hierarchical modeling framework to evaluate land cover and climate relationships with abundance of avian species with varying habitat requirements across the Midwestern U.S. based on North American Breeding Bird Survey data.  We will then link these models to landscape change and climate models to evaluate potential long-term impacts on birds and evaluate proposed conservation activities to mitigate negative impacts associated with climate change.

Great Lakes Silviculture Prescription Library

This project is developing an on-line platform to enable rapid sharing and cataloging of silviculture case studies documenting adaptive forest management approaches across MI, MN, Ontario, and WI.  The goal of this project is to create a clearinghouse of information for forest managers across the region to disseminate ideas on addressing emerging issues and tracking effectiveness of a given approach.  The Prescription Library will serve as the basis for regional continuing education offerings for natural resource professionals throughout Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, and Wisconsin.

Developing historically-consistent and broadly-applicable monitoring, reporting, and verification system for quantifying forest change

Given the increasing impacts of climate change and natural disturbances on forest ecosystems across the US, there is a need for monitoring systems that allow for accurate and rapid detection of historic and future changes in forest area and carbon stocks.  This collaborative project between UMN, USFS, and NASA is piloting a Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) accounting system that could be used within the context of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory baseline reporting to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Understanding Conservation Management Decisions in the Face of Sea-Level Rise Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast

This project addresses a complex local scale conservation problem: managing the impacts associated with sea level rise and coastal flooding on migratory waterbirds and their habitat.  Decisions made by a conservation manager are complicated by three elements that can be expected to occur in almost any of these management situations.  Interactions among dynamic physical and biological processes affect both waterbirds and their habitat and food resources; these processes operate at local to flyway scales and are challenging to represent and analyze.

Fitting the Climate Lens to Grassland Bird Conservation: Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability Using Demographically-Informed Species Distribution Models

To develop the framework to identify demographic sensitivities and assess the vulnerability of grassland bird species to future climate change. Objectives are to (1) Develop a strong partnership among managers and researchers to understand how climate change could be accounted for in conservation and management planning for grassland birds throughout the NE CSC region. (2) Develop spatially-explicit and temporally dynamic species distribution models for a select group of grassland birds.

Making decisions in complex landscapes: headwater stream management across multiple agencies

There is growing evidence that headwater stream ecosystems are especially vulnerable to changing climate and land use, but their conservation is challenged by the need to address the threats at a landscape scale, often through coordination with multiple management agencies and landowners. This project seeks to provide an example of cooperative landscape decision-making by addressing the conservation of headwater stream ecosystems in the face of climate change at the watershed scale.

Ecological and hydrological impacts of the emerald ash borer on black ash forests

This project examines the ecological and hydrological impacts of emerald ash borer on black ash-dominated wetlands throughout the Lake States using large-scale experimental studies documenting impacts of black ash mortality on ecosystem processes, wildlife communities, and evaluating potential mitigation and adaptation strategies under future climate and invasion scenarios.

Modeling effects of climate change on spruce-fir forest ecosystems and associated priority bird populations

Eastern spruce-fir forest ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to climate change within the continuous US. The goal of this project was to develop tools to identify refugia sites most likely to support spruce-fir forest and its associated high-priority obligate spruce-fir bird species over the long-term under projected climate change scenarios.

Distributional changes in spruce-fir forests and forest-dependent wildlife: effects of climate variability and climate change

Spruce-fir forests reach their southern limit in New England and the Upper Midwest, and are predicted by coarse climate envelope models to be greatly reduced or extirpated by climate change in the next century.  However, complex climatology, involving orographic effects and consequent changes in temperature and precip, along with substantial spatial variability, make it imperative that we understand where the most resilient stands are likely to be, and what the effects of these changes mean for spruce-fir associated species.  In this project, we take advantage of long-term surveys at multip

Forecasting Songbird Vulnerabilities to Climate Change

This project is focused on evaluating the spatial relationships of migratory bird movements and how they are mediated by environmental factors, providing resource managers a tool for assessing effects of potential climate change and wind energy development on bird migration. The research will have direct relevance to the management of protected areas, and he will work with cooperators to develop and deliver outreach materials and activities as a part of the project. 

Impacts of sea level rise on ecosystems

A reconnaissance study distinguishes coastal areas of the northeastern U.S. (approx. Virginia to Maine) that will experience an inundation-dominated response to sea-level rise from those that will respond dynamically due to physical and bio-physical sedimentation and erosion processes. Areas that will be dominated by inundation include urban regions of intense development and/or coastal engineering, as well as bedrock coasts. Areas that will respond dynamically include beaches, unconsolidated cliffs, barrier islands, and wetlands.

Assessing climate change projections over the Northeast

Using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) and CMIP3 data, we are developing a range of projections for the Eastern U.S.  We are also developing extreme event projections for stakeholder-relevant metrics (e.g., days over 90 °F, days below 32 °F, and days with over 1 inch of precipitation) based on CMIP5 models and North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) dynamical downscaling.

Effects of climate on wildlife demographics and population viability

We are investigating the effects of climate on multiple aspects of bird demography, including nest success, per nest productivity, juvenile survival, adult survival, and species viability.  We are using a long term data set on bird nesting success and new and existing data on juvenile and adult survival to discover climate effects on productivity and we are developing modeling approaches to predict regional species viability.

Changes in Forested Landscapes of the Eastern United States Under Alternative Climate Scenarios

Forests in the Eastern United States are in the early- and mid-successional stages recovering from historical land use. Succession, harvest, and climate are potentially important factors affecting forest composition and structure in the region. The goal of this project was to predict the distribution and abundance of dominant tree species across portions of the Eastern U.S. under alternative climate scenarios from present to the end of the century.

Climate and disturbance factors affecting shifts between grassland and forest biomes over the past century within the upper Midwest

This project aims to quantify the range in variability in forest dynamics and climate responses for range-margin populations of Pinus banksiana and Picea mariana so as to generate management guidelines for conserving these forests on the landscape in an uncertain climatic future.  These species are the cornerstone for several upland and lowland habitat types on the western edge of the Northeast CSC and are particularly vulnerable to future changes in climate and disturbance regimes.

Effects of climate, disturbance, and management on the growth and dynamics of temperate and sub-boreal forest ecosystems within the Lake States and New England

This project is using tree-ring patterns and long-term data collections from natural and managed forests across the Lake States, New England, Intermountain West, and Black Hills to identify forest management strategies and forest conditions that have conferred the greatest levels of resistance and resilience to past stressors and their relevance in addressing future environmental change.

Effects of hydrologic change and variability on upstream limits of stream fish distribution

Coldwater stream fishes are widely predicted to move upstream in response to warming downstream river temperatures.  However, in the process they may encounter upstream limits, which are likely to be exacerbated by increased hydrologic variability if upstream locations draining small basins switch from perennial to ephemeral flow, with important but currently unknown implications for coldwater habitat and stream fish populations.  In this project, we will look at the current determinants of upstream limitation for Eastern Brook Trout in several (8-10 large watersheds) throughout their nativ

Designing Sustainable Landscapes (DSL)

This project is focused on assessing the capability of current and potential future landscapes within the extent of the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC) to provide integral ecosystems and suitable habitat for a suite of representative species, and provide guidance for strategic habitat conservation. To meet this goal, we are developing a Landscape Change, Assessment and Design (LCAD) model for the NALCC.Two regional Landscape Conservation Designs  have been coproduced with regional stakeholders. Connect the Connecticut and Nature's Network.

Environmental Effects of Agricultural Practices, Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC – Literature search

The purpose of the project was to conduct an extensive search for both published and ongoing research that, in general, deals with climate change and agriculture in a water quality context for the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC. The search was two-fold; one portion of the search dealt with an on-line literature search for published peer-reviewed articles for the time period of 2000 (sometimes slightly earlier depending on the relative degree of the publication’s relevance to the topic) to present.

A Research and Decision Support Framework to Evaluate Sea-level Rise Impacts in the Northeastern U.S.

Previous approaches to quantify coastal vulnerability to sea-level rise have had major shortcomings, including the possibility that their underlying assumptions are not uniformly valid. This project conducted a study to distinguish the differing ways that coastal areas of the northeastern U.S. will respond to sea-level rise. This information will be used to develop a scientific research and decision-support program that addresses the cross-cutting and unique problems in these areas related to climate change and sea-level rise.

A Stream Temperature Inventory Network and Decision Support Metadata Mapper - Evaluating the Resources to Understanding Climate Change Effects on Streams in New England and the Great Lakes States

Stream data for the northeastern U.S. are needed to enable managers to understand baseline conditions, historic trends, and future projections of the impacts of climate change on stream temperature and flow, and in turn on aquatic species in freshwater ecosystems. This project developed a coordinated, multi-agency regional stream temperature framework and database for New England (ME, VT, NH, CT, RI, MA) and the Great Lakes States (MN, WI, IL, MI, IN, OH, PA, NY) by building a community around the efforts of this study.

Extending the Northeast Terrestrial Habitat Map to Atlantic Canada

Consistent and accurate landscape datasets are important foundational products for ecological analyses and for understanding and anticipating the effects of climate change on forested, agricultural, and freshwater systems across the U.S. and Canada. The objective of this project was to extend an existing terrestrial habitat map of the north Atlantic U.S. to Atlantic Canada and southern Quebec, using and modeling field-collected data combined with national and provincial datasets.

Bringing People, Data, and Models Together – Addressing Impacts of Climate Change on Stream Temperature

This study set out to answer the question: “What data and modeling frameworks are needed to provide scientists reliable, climate-informed, water temperature estimates for freshwater ecosystems that can assist watershed management decision making?”  To accomplish this, the study gathered existing stream temperature data, identified data gaps, deployed stream temperature monitoring devices, and developed and tested a stream temperature model that could be regionalized across the Northeast Climate Science Center domain.

Characterization of Spatial and Temporal Variability in Fishes in Response to Climate Change

Currently, there exists much uncertainty regarding how climate change will influence different populations or ecosystems. To improve current understanding and forecasting of population responses to climate variability, the role of variability must be considered when examining system dynamics and species interactions. This project will use an analytical framework to quantitatively estimate how variation in fish populations may respond to climate change and other important changes regionally.

Critically Evaluating Existing Methods and Supporting a Standardization of Terrestrial and Wetland Habitat Classification and Mapping that Includes Characterization of Climate Sensitive Systems

This project will facilitate coordination among the scientific community to provide a comparison of existing habitat classification and mapping products within the footprint of the Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC). This study will also provide an evaluation of habitat vulnerability to climate change within the region and recommendations for needed improvement in habitat mapping products for the future.

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