Increasing the resilience and resistance of climate-vulnerable northeastern species and ecosystems

Fiscal Year: 
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Hector Galbraith, Melissa Ocana (UMass Extension), Molly Cross (Wildlife Conservation Society), Laura Thompson (NCASC)
Project Fellows: 
Science Themes: 

Causes of vulnerability and resistance and reslilience strageies for wildlife and fisheries management. 

Phase I: Determining causes of vulnerability- Completed

The NE CASC has as part of its mission to conduct stakeholder-driven research to understand climate impacts on freshwater resources and land-use change as well as ecosystem vulnerability and species response to climate variability and change.  In the face of increasing temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, and large uncertainty, natural resource managers need to assess vulnerability of species in order to develop adaptation options and conservation strategies. This research evaluated how shifting climate is directly and indirectly affecting mammal populations in the northeasten U.S.  We used a variety of methods to do this, including long-term data, field surveys, elevational transects, camera trapping, live trapping, radio telemetery, genetic analysis, and isotope analysis, as well as literature syntheses and project screening tools. The goal was to understand how current community dynamics may be altered given predicted changes in climate and habitat to inform conservation and management in the region. Final Report below.

Phase II:  Adaptation through resilience and resistance

This project supports collaborations between the NE CASC and the Northern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service to increase the resilience and resistance of climate-vulnerable species and ecosystems. The project will reveal how mammal distributions are shifting in northern forest landscapes and investigate how climate change adaptation strategies, including conserving climate change refugia, could benefit forests, wildlife, and northeastern economies.  After documenting changes in mammal distribution in northern forest landscapes associated with climate variation to help fill a critical data gap and help to inform regional models (Phase I), we will:  

  • Investigate and compare climate change adaptation strategies in order to improve management of climate-vulnerable forests and their dependent wildlife in the face of climate change.
  • Make recommendations for conserving climate change refugia, areas buffered from climate change that enable persistence of species of conservation concern or economic benefit.
  • Morelli, Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) workshop in Burlington, VT, Feb 14, 2019
  • Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative Annual Meeting, December 7 2018, organized session "Wildlife and Climate"; plenary talk by Morelli "Climate change vulnerability and adaptation of forest wildlife"; and "Distribution dynamics of mesocarnivore populations along trailing and leading edges in the northeastern U.S." presentation by Siren
  • Wildlife Society Conference Annual Meeting, Oct 10, 2018; Cleveland, OH; Interacting Effects of Predation, Density-Dynamics, and Resource Availability on Southern Snowshoe Hare Populations
  • MtnClim 2018 Conference (September 20, 2018; Gothic, CO; Looking beyond wildlife: Using remote cameras to evaluate accuracy of gridded snow data)
  • New York Department of Environmental Protection moose working group workshop, Adirondacks, May 2018
  • "The Climate Project Screening Tool: Incorporating Climate Adaptation into On-the-Ground Agency Activities", NEAFWA 4/17/2018, Burlington VT​
  • Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change working group meeting, New Hampshire, February 2018 
  • Climate change refugia, landscape connectivity, and translational ecology. Reed College Department of Biology, February 2018.
  • Using decision tools to assess vulnerability and manage wildlife response to climate change. Annual Michigan Department of Natural Resources Professional Development Training, Traverse City, MI, January 2018.
  • Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) workshop in Burlington, VT, Jan 22, 2018, which will incorporate some of the red squirrel and other SiMPL camera trap data
  • University of Connecticut Department of Environment and Wildlife, November 2017.    
  • Climate change refugia, landscape connectivity, and translational ecology. University of Connecticut Department of Environment and Wildlife, November 2017;
  • Northeast Forest Carnivore Working Group Workshop, SUNY-ESF Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC); Newcomb, NY, September 28-29, 2017
  • "Integrating and implementing climate change in State Wildlife Action Plans", NAF, St Paul, MN, May 2017
  • "Wildlife Vulnerability to Climate Change" at the NE CSC Regional Science Meeting in May 2017
  • NE CASC webinar "Using Decision Tools to Assess Vulnerability and Inform Management of Wildlife in the Northeast", Amherst, MA, March 29, 2017
  • 76th Annual Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Lincoln NE, Feb 7, 2017, presented " The Northeast Climate Science Center: Improving the Way Climate Science Informs Resource Management"
  •  Keynote speech at the annual meeting of the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association, "Climate change and the backyard gardener", January 21, 2017;
  • The Wildlife Society Nov 17, 2016, Hadley MA, "Climate Change Impacts on Wildlife";
  • A community perspective on the effects of climate change on species distributions in the boreal forest of the northeastern United States, AGU 2016;