Mechanisms for species responses to climate change: Are there biological thresholds?

Fiscal Year: 
FY'16
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Radley Horton (Columbia University); Toni Lyn Morelli (USGS); Frank Thompson (University of Missouri, Columbia)
Project Fellows: 
Status: 
Completed
Science Themes: 

Climate change-driven shifts in distribution and abundance are documented in many species. However, in order to better predict species responses, managers are seeking to understand the mechanisms that are driving these changes, including any thresholds that might soon be crossed. We leveraged the research that has already been supported by the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC) and its partners and used the latest modeling techniques combined with robust field data to examine the impact of specific climate variables, land use change, and species interactions on the future distribution and abundance of species of conservation concern. Moreover, we documented biological thresholds related to climate variability and change for critical species in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Our objectives were to identify the primary drivers (e.g., climate change, urban growth) of species distribution changes in the Northeast; examine the nature of species landscape capability change over time to identify potential thresholds; determine how changing temperatures and snowpack characteristics will drive species interactions; determine the sensitivity of tree and bird responses to the magnitude, variability, periodicity, and seasonality of temperature and precipitation under climate change in the eastern U.S.; develop projections based on discrete climate triggers that have been linked to known biological thresholds; and identify how discrete climate triggers such as extreme events will correlate with known biological thresholds. Focal species included eastern tree species, songbirds, moose, Canada lynx, snowshoe hare, and southern pine beetle. Major outcomes include 1) knowledge of the mechanisms that drive projected changes in the distribution of vulnerable wildlife and tree populations that will enable better assessment of vulnerability and adaptation planning; and 2) improving how these results are conveyed to stakeholders by identifying understandable responses in the form of thresholds.

 

Publications: 
Presentations: 
  • Bonnot, T. W., W. A. Cox, F. R. Thompson III, J. J. Millspaugh. 2017.  Combining individual-based and dynamic-landscape metapopulation models to identify climate change threat to a regional songbird population. 24th Annual Wildlife Society Conference, Albuquerque, NM. September 2017. Invited.
  • Bonnot, T. W.  The effects of global warming on the population viability of Acadian Flycatchers across the Central Hardwoods region into the 21st century.  American Bird Conservancy Brown Bag Webinar, National Webinar. 2017. Invited.
  • A community perspective on the effects of climate change on species distributions in the boreal forest of the northeastern United States, AGU, December 2016, San Francisco, CA.
  • Sirén, A.P.K. Northeast Forest Carnivore Working Group Workshop, SUNY-ESF Adirondack Ecological Center, Newcomb, NY. September 2017. Invited
  • Climate change refugia, landscape connectivity, and translational ecology. University of Connecticut Department of Environment and Wildlife, Storrs, CT. November 2017.         
  • 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.
  • Climate change refugia, landscape connectivity, and translational ecology. Reed College Department of Biology, February 2018.
  • The Climate Project Screening Tool: Incorporating Climate Adaptation into On-the-Ground Agency Activities, NEAFWA, Burlington, VT, April 2018.
  • Wildlife Society Conference Annual Meeting; MtnClim 2018 Conference, WA, September 2018.
  • "Looking beyond wildlife: Using remote cameras to evaluate bias of gridded climate data", MtnClim 2018, Gothic, CO, September 2018.
  • "Interacting effects of predation, density-dynamics, and resource availability on southern snowshoe hare populations", Annual Wildlife Society Conference, Cleveland, OH, October 2018.
  • Forest Ecology and Management Conference organized session and presentation, Burlington, VT, December 2018.
  • Relative impacts of climate change and urban growth on northeastern wildlife, Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative, Burlington, VT, December 2018.
  • Sensitivity of maize yields to sub-seasonal rainfall distribution and extremes in the United States, AGU, Washington D.C. December 2018.
  • Bonnot, T.W. and W.V. Deluca. 2019. Mechanisms for species responses to climate change: Are there biological thresholds? Brown-bag seminar. Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, Amherst, MA, February 2019.
  • Bonnot, T. W., W. A. Cox, F. R. Thompson III, J. J. Millspaugh. 2017.  Climate change threatens a songbird population through its impacts on breeding. American Ornithological Society Meeting 2019. Anchorage, AK, June 2019.
  • Designing sustainable landscapes: a landscape conservation design for the northeastern US, Northeast Society of American Foresters, Burlington, VT, December 2019.
Engagement: