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Vol. 5 No. 3

Fall 2011

The Climate Challenge

Hawaii: Extinction in Paradise Cougars on the Edge In the Wake of 9/11

Fall 2011 Vol. 5 No. 3

Cover Story: The Climate Challenge 24 Facing the Inevitable

42 Role of the U.S. Forest Service By Monica S. Tomosy et al.

26 New Research on Climate’s

47  Piñon-Juniper Woodlands Race

32 Landscape Conservation

50 How TWS Addresses the

By David J. Hayes

Front Lines By T. Douglas Beard, Jr. et al. Cooperatives By Douglas J. Austen

Against the Clock By Shauna Leavitt

Climate Challenge By Michael Hutchins

38 Pikas: Playing by New Rules


 y Erik A. Beever and B Jennifer L. Wilkening

Credit: Jo Goldmann

In Focus: Hawaii’s Wildlife Dilemma

52 Extinction in Paradise  By George E. Wallace and David Leonard

60 Sheep vs. Palila on Mauna Kea  By Steven C. Hess and Paul C. Banko

56 The Nēnē: Hawaii’s Iconic Goose

64 Is the Model a Misfit in Hawaii?

rotating features


68 Commentary

6 8 10 12 14 18 22

By Steven C. Hess

A Shift in Focus for States By Glenn Pauley

72 Human-Wildlife Connection

Cougars on the Edge By Mathew W. Alldredge

78 Human-Wildlife Connection Wildlife Management after 9/11 By Richard Chipman and Richard Dolbeer 84 Point-Counterpoint

Is it Time to Halt Bird Banding?  By Marlene A. Condon

Why Bird Banding Should Continue  By Bruce G. Peterjohn

 By Christopher A. Lepczyk et al.

Editor's Note


Guest Editorial Leadership Letter

Credit: Christina Cornett

Letters to the Editor Science in Short State of Wildlife Today’s Wildlife Professionals: Shannon Smith and Jennifer Waipa

86  Policy Watch 89 Field Notes

Practical tips for field biologists

92 The Society Pages

TWS news and events

96  Gotcha!


Photos from readers

Credit: Colorado DOW

More Online! This publication is available online to TWS members at Throughout the magazine, mouse icons and text printed in blue indicate links to more information available online.

© The Wildlife Society


Baby, It’s Weird Outside Three years ago, in the fall of 2008, this magazine ran an entire issue on the subject of climate change. Now here we are again, devoting 27 pages to climate and efforts to address its impacts. No doubt many of our members are sick of the subject. Some even doubt that the Credit: Ruxandra Giura human hunger for fossil fuels is heating up the planet. So why revisit such a hot-button topic? Because a lot has changed in the past three years, and naturalresource agencies are leading the charge on behalf of wildlife.

The Wildlife Society wishes to thank the following organizations for their financial and in-kind support of The Wildlife Professional.

As many of you know firsthand, the Department of the Interior recently launched an ambitious climate initiative spearheaded by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), eight university-based Climate Science Centers (CSCs), and 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). This alphabetsoup of new acronyms serves a serious purpose that boils down to this: Landscape-scale collaboration among various jurisdictions is essential if we’re going to help wildlife and habitats survive the impacts of a shifting climate. Whatever your stance on climate change and its causes, there’s no denying that the weather—especially this year—has been exceptionally odd. A record blizzard stretching from New Mexico to Canada buried Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive, leaving cars stuck in their tracks like igloos. A record flood on the Souris River drowned the town of Minot, North Dakota. A record heat wave in Texas baked the state’s capital, Austin, with more than 70 days of tripledigit temperatures. A record wildfire in Arizona torched some 470,000 acres. And vicious tornados whipped through Alabama and Missouri, killing scores of people and leveling neighborhoods. Journalist Tom Friedman calls such phenomena “global weirding.” “That is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes,” he writes. “The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier, and the most violent storms more numerous” (Friedman 2010). The evidence seems to be before our eyes. Wildlife species are feeling the brunt of these climate oddities, which have short- and long-term consequences for water supply, food availability, bloom cycles, bug infestations, and the literal ground beneath our feet. Wildlife professionals are therefore rallying as never before to anticipate, assess, and mitigate climate impacts that may put species and habitats at risk. The research, programs, and tools described in this issue illustrate many of these efforts and will, we hope, inform the work of wildlife professionals in the field. Clearly that work is more crucial than ever.

Lisa Moore Editor-in-Chief 6

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Facing the Inevitable Agency Efforts to Collaborate on Climate Change By David J. Hayes


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ccelerating climate change poses the single biggest threat to wildlife in the United States. Shifting temperatures, patterns of precipitation, violent storm events, and other forms of change are not only having well-publicized effects—such as shrinking polar bear habitat in Alaska—but impacting fish and wildlife across the continent. Climate change is altering entire ecosystems, habitats, and virtually all species—not just those identified as imperiled. It is affecting the migration cycles and health of migratory songbirds. It is changing the timing of spring blooms, with potential consequences for pollinators. It is raising sea levels, threatening to one day engulf public lands such as the world’s first wildlife refuge—Florida’s Pelican Island—which President Teddy Roosevelt established in 1903. Clearly this nation cannot afford to ignore the rapid advance of climate impacts to our environment, which is why the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is taking action.

A Time for Vigilance

The DOI manages one-fifth of U.S. land, including 35,000 miles of coastline. In addition to conserving fish and wildlife refuges and protecting the icons of our natural heritage through national parks and other public lands, we also manage water supplies for more than 30 million people. Such responsibility demands vigilence. In a very real sense, climate change has changed Interior. Our scientists and land managers are dealing firsthand with the potential for a changing climate to dramatically affect water supplies in certain watersheds, impact coastal wetlands and barrier islands,

cause relocation of wildlife, increase wildland fires, and lead to other, often unanticipated, impacts. They know that the effects of climate change do not end at the borders of a national park, wildlife refuge, or other public land. And they know that no one agency or jurisdiction can manage climate impacts alone. This is why the DOI is proactively pursuing cross-jurisdictional collaboration to protect natural resources from climate change. In 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar launched our first-ever coordinated departmental strategy to address current and future impacts of climate change on America’s land, water, wildlife, cultural, and tribal resources. Under this strategy, we are setting up eight regional Climate Science Centers (CSCs) to synthesize existing scientific data and management strategies and help resource managers put them into action on the ground. The regional CSCs—which involve collaboration with existing universities and research centers—extend from a hub at the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. As you’ll learn in the articles that follow, the CSCs provide science to a network of regional Landscape Conservation Cooperatives that engage Interior, its bureaus, and other federal agencies, local and state partners, tribal leaders, and the public in crafting strategies for managing the landscape-level impacts of climate change and other stressors.

Courtesy of DOI

David J. Hayes is Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Through collaboration within DOI and with other federal, state, and local governmental agencies and other private and nonprofit partners, Interior is taking the lead in the efforts to protect our natural resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change. It is the defining challenge of our time.

Caribou antlers rise from the snow in Alaska’s Selawik National Wildlife Refuge. Shifting patterns of heat, cold, and precipitation may put the nation’s refuges and wildlife at risk.

jjjjjjjjjjj Credit: Jo Goldmann

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New Research on Climate’s Front Lines Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Fish and Wildlife By T. Douglas Beard, Jr., Robin O’Malley, and Jessica Robertson


Credit: Jessica Robertson

T. Douglas Beard, Jr., Ph.D., is Chief of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.

hanges to the Earth’s climate—and subsequent changes in temperature, weather patterns, and precipitation—pose significant current and future challenges to our nation’s fish and wildlife resources. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and that changes in natural systems are being observed worldwide (IPCC 2007). Managers of land, water, and living resources need to understand how climate and other stresses (such as changing land use) will affect these resources so they can assess vulnerability and ultimately design effective adaptation strategies. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is helping to meet this challenge through its National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), which Congress established in 2008. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, and staffed by USGS scientists and researchers, the center works to deliver scientific and technical information that will help natural resource managers understand

and cope with the changing climate. This effort involves working closely with the nation’s natural resource managers to ensure that science addresses their key priorities and reaches them in the most effective manner. Working in partnership with resource managers and scientists at national, regional, and landscape levels—including federal, tribal, state, local, university, NGO, and other partners—the NCCWSC will coordinate scientific research and will: • Provide forecasts of fish and wildlife population and habitat changes in response to climate change. • Assess the vulnerability and risk of species and habitats to climate change. • Link models of physical climate change (such as temperature and precipitation) with models that predict ecological, habitat, and population responses. • Develop standardized approaches to monitoring and help link existing monitoring efforts to climate and ecological or biological response models.

Coauthor Affiliations Robin O’Malley is the Policy and Partnership Coordinator for the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. Jessica Robertson is the USGS Public Affairs Specialist.

Credit: Travis Dowell/USGS

Drought 2011. Desiccated catfish lie huddled where they died as the water ran dry in O.C. Fisher Lake near San Angelo, Texas, an area experiencing prolonged drought.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

Credit: Christian Randolph/Grand Forks Herald

Flood 2011. The slow but inexorable rise of water consumes homes in Minot, North Dakota, where the rain-swollen Souris River breached its banks, one of many massive floods in 2011.

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A Regional Focus The NCCWSC will do most of its work through eight regional Department of the Interior (DOI) Climate Science Centers (CSCs), now being established by the USGS (see map). These centers will be federal-university collaborations that will provide the scientific information, tools, and techniques needed to manage land, water, wildlife, and cultural resources for the DOI in the face of climate change. Each CSC will have a relatively small staff including a director and several USGS research scientists. This core team will work closely with university-based scientists, greatly expanding the range of expertise available to address complex climate issues. In addition, other agencies, such as the National Park Service, are placing staff at some CSCs as well. A federal advisory committee will be established in early 2012 to provide guidance on the NCCWSC’s overall scientific direction. This committee will include representatives from state, federal, tribal and local governments, private industry, the academic community, and conservation and science organizations such as The Wildlife Society.

Credit: Trevor Lewis/USFS

Wildfire 2011. Firefighters face a blaze that eventually ravaged the face of Arizona. The state’s largest wildfire forced mass evacuations and scorched more than 720 square miles.

© The Wildlife Society

Credit: TWS

The USGS and CSCs will work closely with a network of 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) in which federal, state, tribal, and other managers and scientists will develop conservation, adaptation, and mitigation strategies for dealing with the impacts of climate change (see page 32). LCCs will be the primary partners for the CSCs, and input from LCCs and other regional management and science partners will determine the science agenda for each CSC. Those agendas will vary by region. In Alaska, for example, researchers will fill a key scientific gap by providing downscaled climate data for high lati-

Web of Science. The DOI’s evolving network of eight Climate Science Centers will link the expertise of natural resource agencies with university faculty to develop sciencebased solutions to climate challenges. Regional boundaries are necessarily “fuzzy,” a reflection of climate’s amorphous impacts across landscapes.

Credit: Victorgrigas/Wikipedia

Blizzard 2011. Drifts stop a truck in its tracks on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, one of many cities crippled by a massive February blizzard that reached from New Mexico to Canada.


tudes. Efforts in the Northwest will focus on issues related to water flows for coldwater fish species, and in the southeast, partners have ranked the study of sea level rise and its effects on ecosystems and human infrastructure as a high priority. Overall, this triangle of collaboration—among the NCCWSC, LCCs, and CSCs—is critical for achieving key Department of the Interior goals to improve the management of climate-related data and conduct vulnerability assessments to identify resources at particular risk.

Ongoing Science Activities

The NCCWSC currently has more than 22 projects underway across the nation. Many of these projects involve developing models that will help managers predict how specific changes in climate—such as rainfall patterns, storm severity, warming or cooling patterns, or sea-level rise—might affect specific animals, plants, and habitats in a given location. USGS scientists are attempting to map where such climate conditions are likely to occur in the future and predict how habitats will respond and move. Their work starts with models that project global conditions, which are often then “downscaled” to provide the fine-scale information necessary for local research and management. These data will help provide answers to pressing questions such as: If climate changes, how will the ecosystem change? Will groundwater flow into streams change? Will vegetation migrate northward and fires increase as temperatures warm?

Credit: Bruce Marcot/USDA Forest Service

Meltdown. A cluster of walrus haul out on a floe, its edges rimmed with melting ice. Warming Arctic seas are shrinking the ice that walrus, polar bears, and other species depend on for survival.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

Because climate modeling often requires very powerful computers and huge data storage capabilities, the NCCWSC and CSCs are developing sophisticated data-management systems to enable scientists to efficiently do their work and share results with other scientists and managers. For example, USGS is now hosting a downscaled dataset that projects temperature and precipitation changes for the lower 48 contiguous states. Among additional on-theground efforts: Modeling in Florida. Florida has a complex semi-tropical climate and diverse ecosystems ranging from coral reefs to dry inland ridges. To understand how the state will fare in the face of climate change, USGS scientists are creating Florida-specific ecological models that examine which species and habitats will increase or decline based on potential rainfall and temperature change, as well as studying impacts of human-induced landuse and land-cover change. The effort involves ensuring that models can accurately portray past history and current conditions, and extending these into the future. “Getting the climate signal right is a crucial first step in understanding ecosystem impacts,” says Thomas Smith, lead scientist on the project. Specifically, researchers will create models to do landscape-level analyses of climate change effects on wading birds such as herons, egrets and ibises, along with species-based models for alligators, crocodiles, and man-

Credit: Mark Haviland/U.S. Army

Violent Storms. Ruins remain after an EF-5 tornado razed Joplin, Missouri in May, destroying thousands of buildings, killing scores of people, and stirring fears of future storms.

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atees. Climate envelope-models are being developed for a variety of endemic Florida plants, and climate model outputs are being used as inputs to hydrodynamic models of the Suwannee River basin and estuary and the Florida Everglades. Results of these modeling efforts will be available in 2012. Future of Great Lakes Fish. The Great Lakes support a multi-billion-dollar fishing and tourism industry (Bence and Smith 1999), but little is known about how climate change could affect their fish species. USGS scientists and collaborators are updating models to predict 50 to 100 years in the future how water level, water temperatures, and ice cover will change in the Great Lakes. Scientists will explore how warmer water temperatures may affect fish growth and consumption rates and forecast algal production and fish variability in Lakes Michigan and Huron. San Francisco Bay Marshes. These crucial wetland habitats are at risk from sea-level rise, storms, altered salinities, changes in sediment loads, and other stressors (Takekawa et al. 2006). In turn, these factors threaten plant communities and species such as the salt marsh harvest mouse, California clapper rail, and California black rail, all of which are listed as either federally endangered or threatened. USGS scientists are developing models for this area to predict sea-level rise, effects on species and habitats, and whether marshes can grow at sustainable rates. Camouflage and Climate Change. Many species, including the arctic fox and snowshoe hare, undergo a seasonal change of coat color to match the presence or absence of snow, an adaptation that hides them from predators. As the climate changes and snowpack declines, scientists worry that such species may display their white coats on non-snowy backgrounds, increasing their risk of predation. These species could face population declines or respond by relocating or adapting over time. USGS scientists are tracking snowshoe hares—key prey

© The Wildlife Society

Credit: Mike Ebinger/USGS

of threatened Canada lynx—to evaluate the hares’ responses to climate, using data to make projections for the next 30 to 50 years. Melting Glaciers and Alaska’s Streamflow. As warming temperatures cause glaciers to melt, the flow of freshwater in the Gulf of Alaska changes, causing impacts across coastal ecosystems. Increased water flow can flush higher levels of iron and nitrate into coastal waters, compounds that can radically alter the production of phyto- and zooplankton, which serve as food for fish such as salmon (Boyd and Ellwood 2010). Scientists studying these processes and impacts put particular focus on the glacier-fed Copper River, the Gulf’s largest freshwater source, and a major salmon production area. Trout at Risk in the West. Some native trout populations in the western U.S., including bull and cutthroat trout, are at risk of extinction, with many proposed for or listed under the Endangered Species Act. The recovery of these species is a challenge as climate change is likely to raise water temperatures, alter wildfire occurrences, and increase demand for water resources. USGS scientists are studying how climate change will influence fish habitats in streams in Idaho and Montana, and providing data to managers to help them assess extinction risks and develop appropriate response strategies (Haak et al. 2010).

Trout Unlimited biologist Kirk Dahle displays a 33-inch bull trout, unintentionally caught and quickly released in the South Fork of the Flathead River in Montana. Listed as threatened under the ESA, bull trout do best in especially cold water. USGS scientists are studying potential climate effects on trout habitat in Idaho and Montana and developing models to show how climate changes may impact stream networks.


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Islands, Seabirds, and Sea-Level Rise. Even small increases in sea level may result in critical habitat loss (Baker et al. 2006). As the climate continues to change, sea-level rise may inundate coastal and low-elevation Pacific islands (Woodroffe 2008) such as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which provide habitat for 11 endangered species of terrestrial birds and plants as well as the largest assemblage of tropical seabirds in the world—some 14 million birds of 22 species. USGS scientists are therefore mapping current island species distribution and identifying the areas and species that are most vulnerable to sea-level rise. Thirsty Plants in the Arid Southwest. A warmer climate can bring dryer conditions, threatening plant species in the arid southwestern U.S. as well as the wildlife that depend on these plants for habitat and food. USGS scientists will expand on existing models that outline climate change impacts to plant populations and use these models to project changes in wildlife populations. Project researchers are studying up to 30 plant species—such as saguaro cactus, piñon pine, and scrub oak—and habitat relationships of candidate bird species including pinyon jay,

gray vireo, and juniper titmouse (all of which live in piñon-juniper habitat), Grace’s warbler (ponderosa pine), and olive warbler (pine forest). As the science activity of the NCCWSC evolves over the next few years, the emphasis will be on synthesis, bringing together multiple specific research projects to identify larger lessons about nationalscale issues—such as how to identify particularly vulnerable resources—and develop standard approaches for monitoring fish and wildlife. The NCCWSC is one step forward in bringing the science expertise of the DOI and USGS together to help the nation adapt to future climate change.

For more information on the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and to see descriptions of all projects underway, visit To access the most up-to-date scientific literature on climate change, go to TWS Climate Change Library.

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The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

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Landscape Conservation Cooperatives A Science-Based Network in Support of Conservation By Douglas J. Austen


Courtesy of Douglas J. Austen

Douglas J. Austen, Ph.D., is Coordinator of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

n just two short years, the Department of the Interior’s effort to establish a network of 22 regional Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) and their partner network of eight universitybased Climate Science Centers (CSCs) has begun to transform the nation’s approach to addressing a wide range of landscape-level threats to the nation’s natural resources, including climate change. Evidence of these efforts are in the air—and on the ground. In July of this year, for example, the new Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative committed to invest $1.3 million in 12 climate-related research projects (WALCC 2011). These projects involve a range of scientific studies about issues such as thermal dynamics of lakes, freeze-thaw cycles, vegetation coverage, caribou habitat, the spread of invasives, and climate impacts on coastal communities. Such work can’t come a moment too soon. “We’re right at the threshold edge of climate change,” says Western Alaska’s LCC Coordinator Karen Murphy, who cites rapidly melting permafrost and eroding coastlines among the many visible challenges to Alaska’s wildlife and habitat. Until recently, individual agencies have had to take a somewhat “piecemeal” approach to addressing such climate impacts, says Murphy. “But there’s a lot of overlap in the need for scientific information,” she says, “and we can have much more power as a collective than as individuals.” Landscape Conservation Cooperatives provide that collective punch. Established in 2009 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, LCCs and CSCs will provide cutting-edge science to help managers sustain the continent’s natural and cultural resources. These new entities will work with DOI agencies, federal, state, tribal, and local governments, and private landowners and NGOs to “develop landscape-level strategies for understanding and responding to climate change impacts” (Secretarial Order 3289). Because of the nature of the challenge—large in scale, multi-jurisdictional, and immense in impact—this landscape approach offers the most-promising solutions.


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

A critical component of LCCs has been the inclusion at a leadership level of other agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation, each with responsibility for establishing LCCs in the western U.S., where they have key land holdings. Similarly, the National Park Service has invested heavily in placing staff within several LCCs, and states have worked with LCCs in several situations to either co-support staff or provide office space and other key logistical contributions. Other key federal conservation agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, Corps of Engineers, and Department of Defense have also been engaged at various levels.

Laying the Groundwork

The philosophical foundation of LCCs began in 2006, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) initiated a new framework for achieving biological goals called Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC). Based on principles of adaptive resource management and successes in cooperative conservation by Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, SHC involves applying technical procedures at ecological scales to help resource managers prioritize, design, implement, and evaluate their conservation efforts. To be successful, SHC requires not just scientific and technical expertise, but organizational commitment. In pursuing that goal, FWS leaders at the field and executive levels had to recognize the need to connect conservation at individual or project sites to larger biological outcomes on an ecoregion scale. In 2009, FWS published Conservation in Transition (USFWS 2009), which outlines how SHC can be implemented to achieve Service priorities. The document recommends greater use of predictive models, emphasis on inter-organizational collaboration, and focus on sharing science across project sites and regions. The SHC framework—and the years of research it represents—forms the foundation for LCCs as the operational entities of a new © The Wildlife Society

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Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

United Effort. The nation’s LCCs recently expanded to 22 with a new unit in the Caribbean, established under the U.S. Forest Service’s International Institute of Tropical Forestry. Delineated by a blend of regional wildlife and habitat criteria, these multijurisdictional LCCs will bring a broad-scale approach to a host of conservation issues.

conservation model. “LCCs build capacity for the Service,” says FWS Director Dan Ashe, “capacity to reach out to the conservation community at an unprecedented level and achieve biological outcomes using the best available science.” Though LCCs are new, the concept of landscapescale conservation as embodied by LCCs has actually evolved over the past 150 years. From the late 1800s through mid-20th century, federal and state conservation efforts focused on large-scale land acquisition, such as the development of the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and state wildlife management areas. Beginning in the 1960s, a strong wave of environmentalism (with roots in the 1930s) led to important legislation such as the Wilderness Act and Endangered Species Act, setting the stage for many of today’s conservation and environmental protection efforts. Increasingly, however, the stresses impacting our natural resources need to be addressed consistently at a large scale across administrative boundaries if we are to retain key ecological processes, communities, and species. Ongoing work in the Chesapeake Bay, Florida Everglades, San Francisco Bay, and Yellowstone ecosystems illustrate such large-scale efforts. Similarly, national efforts to address key © The Wildlife Society

species and systems are being implemented through existing programs such as the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) and FWS’ Joint Ventures (JV) programs, both of which range nationwide. Non-profit conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have also been providing leadership and innovation in collaborative conservation. Its “Conservation by Design” initiative includes analytical methods for conducting largescale assessments that have helped create a national framework for TNC programs to address biodiversity conservation at a landscape level (Groves 2003). These critical efforts have provided both individual case studies and national models to act as a template for expanded collaboration. There are many roadblocks to the success of a collaborative landscape-level approach. Pitfalls include a lack of information about actions and programs already underway, a lack of capacity, inadequate coordination among various agencies, policies that are not commensurate with the challenges, and lack of integration among various funding sources (McKinney et al. 2010). Such barriers are not unique to landscape conservation. The challenge is to create a structure—a set of processes, effective relationships, and solid commitment—to ensure that we can


static, and may require modifications due to new scientific knowledge or the pragmatic demands of conservation planning. Clearly LCCs do not delineate all ecosystem boundaries and they do not follow any administrative or geopolitical boundary. Rather, the lines are a vehicle for program management and a starting point for addressing landscape conservation—with the understanding that wildlife and ecological process have little respect for borders.

Form and Function

Ducks drift and fly in relative peace at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, located within the North Atlantic LCC. Scientists are concerned that sea levels will rise as temperatures warm, putting such coastal wetland habitats at risk—and requiring a landscape-scale approach to find solutions.

Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

overcome the barriers. LCCs will help do this by overseeing a shared vision for handling widespread and pervasive change on the landscape.

More than Lines on a Map

The 22 LCCs are designed to be a seamless national, ultimately international, network supporting protection, restoration, and management efforts to help natural systems across the continent. They work to identify science and management priorities, coordinating with partner agencies working within existing jurisdictions. The LCC geographical framework was defined by the FWS and USGS (USFWS 2010) to achieve four goals: (1) address terrestrial and aquatic species’ needs as well as multiple ecosystems, (2) be accessible and transparent, (3) facilitate approaches to complex conservation challenges such as climate change, and (4) provide a spatial framework to address activities in the context of higher-level conservation goals. After evaluating a series of options, a team of FWS and USGS biologists selected Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) as the principal delineators for LCC regions. However, some features of Omernick’s Level II ecoregions (Omernik 1987), FWS Joint Venture boundaries, and areas described as Freshwater Ecoregions (Abell et al. 2008) were also incorporated to define the LCCs within the coterminous U.S. The intent was to maintain as much fidelity as possible to BCRs and terrestrial and aquatic homogeneity as well as to existing national conservation partnerships. The resulting LCCs (see map on page 33) include all U.S. states and territories and significant areas of Canada and Mexico. This map is not meant to be


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

Three features describe the major attributes of LCCs. First, they use applied conservation science in partnerships that include federal and state agencies, tribes, conservation organizations, and universities within a geographically defined area. Second, they will function as a fundamental unit of planning and adaptive science that will inform conservation actions on the ground. Finally, they’ll provide a national (and international) network of land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers, and interested public and private organizations. For each LCC, a steering committee will provide oversight, establish conservation priorities, prioritize science needs, and coordinate conservation actions that address the mutual goals of the partnership. The steering committee is supported by staff provided primarily by the federal agencies but also includes significant contributions from states and other partners, all with an eye on leveraging resources for the most effective conservation effort. Each LCC will have one overall coordinator and a science coordinator, with additional staff based on partnership needs. For example, in the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative, the National Park Service has hired staff to address complicated cultural resource issues that are greatly impacted by climate change and resulting sea level rise. In other LCCs, staff may focus on other issues such as GIS technology or data and information management.

Sharing the Science

A primary goal of LCCs is to develop the capacity to share science in order to improve conservation planning, delivery, and assessment among partners. Importantly, LCCs work with the USGS Climate Science Centers, a component of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (see page 26) to identify and prioritize CSC scientific research. The university-based CSCs work with partners to conduct the research and help the LCCs to translate and deliver it to © The Wildlife Society

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A Budding Partnership By Carolyn Enquist

By its nature, the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) supports collaborative conservation related to climate change. It is therefore well-positioned to assist Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) in four key areas: Phenological Monitoring USA-NPN’s focus is phenology, or shifts in the timing of biological activities, and we offer scientifically vetted and standardized monitoring protocols for nearly 500 animal and plant species to date. Information from monitoring can help LCCs develop climate-impact monitoring programs applicable to nearly all landscapes. LCCs can use phenological data to help address essential science and management questions, such as whether earlier bloom time creates susceptibility to frost damage, or how prescribed burns can be timed to benefit ground-nesting birds. Several LCCs are already engaged in phenology-related activities. For example, the Great Plains LCC is contributing to a study of the nesting phenology of the lesser prairie-chicken in relation to climate change, and the Great Northern LCC is supporting the development of a geospatial data portal to implement a spatial toolkit and phenology server. Data Management LCC-associated research will generate vast quantities of data that must be stored, processed, and shared. USANPN has a secure and flexible information management system for the organization and analysis of phenology data. The system is already serving as a resource for organizations such as the National Park Service (NPS) Inventory and Monitoring program and U.S. Geological Survey Climate Science Centers. Key components of the system include: •  Standardized monitoring protocols and methodologies •  Online data entry, storage, and visualization tools •  A National Phenology Database that will accommodate large volumes of internal and external data documented by Federal Geographic Data Committee-compliant metadata •  Web services to allow controlled access to the database •  Development of mobile applications for Android and iPhone platforms

These features will provide a robust platform for seamless data sharing between USA-NPN, LCCs, and other partner organizations and institutions. Partnership Coordination By identifying synergies among citizen science organizations, resource management agencies, education programs, Native American tribes, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions, USA-NPN can facilitate the development of partnerships for LCCs. At a recent stakeholder’s meeting for the California (CA) LCC, for example, USA-NPN helped connect the LCC with the National Park Service’s newly implemented California Phenology Project, which currently spans 19 park units and, in the near future, will include the University of California’s Natural Reserve System. Through this nascent partnership, the CA-LCC will have access to the latest phenology methods and analyses customized to that region. With this information in hand, scientists and managers can work together more efficiently to develop climate adaptation strategies. Education and Outreach For LCCs to achieve their goals, stakeholder groups and the public must be engaged and educated. An educated public with a strong stewardship ethic will ultimately support sustainable management of the nation’s natural resources for future generations. USA-NPN offers tools that cultivate hands-on scientific discovery and inquiry, such as lesson plans and interactive data maps. Such tools can assist LCCs in their outreach efforts. Already, USA-NPN has helped establish phenology trails for NPS units and is currently developing guidance on how to incorporate citizen science into the nation’s National Wildlife Refuge System using USA-NPN’s user-friendly phenology monitoring program, Nature’s Notebook. The myriad existing and potential connections between USA-NPN and the LCC Network bodes well for a longterm and productive partnership, and for the improved health of the nation’s lands and wildlife.

Carolyn Enquist, Ph.D., is the Science Coordinator for USA-National Phenology Network and The Wildlife Society. Credit: TWS

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A moose takes a dip in remote waters at the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, part of the Northwest Interior Forest LCC. Some climate studies project hotter, wetter weather here and elsewhere in Alaska in the decades ahead, with significant implications for fire and vegetation patterns.

This shared science capacity embraces other large-scale, ongoing efforts such as the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and the National Fish Habitat partnerships.

conservation partners for application in planning and assessment. LCCs also serve to expand the effectiveness and influence of many existing conservation planning and implementation tools— such as State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs)—by spatially connecting objectives, demonstrating common effort and accomplishment, and addressing key uncertainties through applied research.

The Great Northern: An LCC in Action By Yvette Converse, Tom Olliff, and Gary Tabor The North Fork of the Flathead River runs about 153 miles from British Columbia south into Montana, where it marks the western boundary of Glacier National Park. Undammed and ecologically pristine, the river and its valley have been managed for logging, recreation, hunting, and other uses by a mix of federal, state, provincial, tribal, and private interests in both the United States and Canada. Coal-bed methane extraction, oil and gas development, and proposed mountaintop removal coal mining all have the potential to impact the river’s water quality, threatening terrestrial and aquatic resources. These include valuable forest, riparian, and riverine habitats for bull and cutthroat trout, grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine, bighorn sheep, and badger. For decades, local partnerships have worked to promote the importance of protecting this watershed from potential mining impacts. That goal got a major boost in February 2010, when Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell signed a Memorandum of Understanding on environmental cooperation. The MOU committed British Columbia and Montana, working with the U.S. government as necessary, to ban the exploration and development of coal, minerals, oil, and gas in the North Fork Flathead River Basin. 36

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Across the country, LCC partnerships are already identifying priority species and habitats and launching projects that will inform conservation decisions and actions on the ground. The Great Plains LCC, for example, recently identified the lesser prairieCredit: Kate Banish/USFWS chicken as a priority species for conservation, given that the population has plunged from millions to perhaps as few as 80,000 birds. To address the crisis, the GPLCC has approved a project to develop a new protocol using helicopters to monitor lesser prairie-chicken populations and habitat across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas—the only existing range for the species. With grants from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife

This event marked a victory for collaborative cross-border conservation. But the MOU was about more than mining in the Flathead. Broadly, it was about putting in place a new framework for transboundary cooperation and partnerships, not only between state and provincial governments, but also federal governments, tribal and First Nation governments, leaders from business, environmental advocates, and scientists to help address climate change and management of fish and wildlife. “A new partnership with Montana will sustain the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting, and trapping uses,” said British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor Steven Point during a speech about the agreement (ENS 2010). It “will identify permissible land uses and establish new collaborative approaches to transboundary issues.”

Credit: Garth Lenz/International League of Conservation Photographers

A border cut slices across the Flathead River Valley, separating Montana (right) from British Columbia. The two jurisdictions are working together to ban mining and gas development near the North Fork of the Flathead River in Canada.

In February 2011, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asked the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GNLCC) to take on this new commitment to transboundary cooperation. Working across jurisdictions for more-effective landscape conservation is a major tenet of the new LCC system, and the Great Northern exemplifies how this challenge and opportunity can work. One of the largest LCCs in terms of surface area, the Great Northern geographic area spans 447,000 square miles in the U.S. and Canada. Of that, 57 percent

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The Climate Conundrum

LCCs are a fundamental element of the DOI’s strategic response to climate change, which will impact species and habitats directly and also amplify current management challenges such as habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and water scarcity. Successful conservation will therefore require conserving large landscapes, which will give species the opportunity to shift their distributions in response to a changing climate and will help ensure that a broad spectrum of terrestrial and aquatic species is conserved. The challenge will be to translate climate projections into objective predictions of how wildlife

populations and habitats will change in response to climate change. The shared science capacity embodied in LCCs will address the key questions associated with this issue, such as how species will move, how habitats will change, how we can maintain target populations, and where we should make our conservation investments. As conservation leaders, we must acknowledge the challenge and consequences that we face and collectively embrace the change that is needed to achieve our goals in a world impacted by accelerating human development and climate change. The infrastructure that addressed such challenges in the past—individually or at local or regional scales—is not sufficient to meet the current magnitude of threats to our natural resources. While recognizing existing jurisdictional roles, the conservation community needs to work collaboratively to share resources and expertise. LCCs provide a national framework for this effort, which must succeed if wildlife and habitats are to survive.

falls in the U.S. (about one-third of which is privately owned) and 43 percent in Canada. Taken as a whole, the LCC includes some of the most intact and functional ecosystems in the contiguous U.S. and Canada, home to vast communities of free-roaming bison, elk, and deer as well as wolves, bears, sage-grouse, other grassland birds, and diverse salmon and trout populations—all hallmark species of the region’s landscapes. People also depend on these ecosystems and the area’s other natural resources for healthy and economically viable communities and their cultural traditions and lifestyles, such as ranching, logging, recreational and subsistence hunting and fishing, and enjoyment of living in and near wild areas. Management authority within the GNLCC is a mosaic of governmental and other interests. On the U.S. side, this includes the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. In Canada, the Canadian federal government has an important role, though natural resources and public lands (called “Crown” land) are largely provincial responsibilities (British Columbia and Alberta in the Flathead region). As many as 100 First Nations also consider parts of the area their traditional territory. Private land ownership, which is extensive in the U.S., and other user interests add more key constituents to the crowded arena. This diverse ownership and management matrix within an area where geography, ecosystems, and human infrastructure largely run north-south creates significant institutional and organizational challenges that demand collaboration on sustainable resource management. The challenge is compounded by the complexity of ecosystems within the GNLCC that are ecologically, economically, and culturally valuable, ranging from the interior Columbia Basin and mid-continental Rocky Mountain montane to arid sage-steppe ecotypes. The North Fork of the Flathead River watershed is © The Wildlife Society

therefore a prime example of how LCCs can help coordinate conservation efforts within a complex multi-jurisdictional landscape. The British Columbia-Montana MOU and subsequent actions to withdraw mining, oil, and gas rights is a major step toward international landscape conservation in the transboundary Flathead. Continued successful management to maintain the healthy and diverse ecosystem will depend on coordination and follow-through from U.S. federal agencies and British Columbia as well as Environment Canada and the State of Montana. Significant coordination within this transboundary watershed is absolutely necessary to ensure that conservation measures are pursued through an inclusive process to achieve mutually agreed outcomes. The Great Northern—along with other LCCs—is filling the gap in governance that may arise from the multiplicity of jurisdictions within landscapes and ecosystems, enabling more effective information sharing, inter-agency coordination, and increased accountability so that each agency can do its part to ensure the North Fork of the Flathead retains its ecological and societal value and can support future generations of residents through sustainable management of its wealth of natural resources. Courtesy of Yvette Converse

Agencies and the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Interstate Working Group, this collaborative effort will yield moreaccurate data on population numbers and habitat areas. “The data will help inform our conservation action,” says GPLCC Coordinator Mike Carter, “such as where to put new Conservation Reserve Program acres.”

Coauthor Affiliations

Yvette Converse is Coordinator for the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

Tom Olliff is Co-Coordinator for the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Gary Tabor is Executive Director of the Center for Large Landscape Conservation in Bozeman, Montana.


Playing by New Rules Altered Climates are Affecting Some Pikas Dramatically—and Rapidly By Erik A. Beever and Jennifer L. Wilkening


Credit: Yuriko Yano

Erik A. Beever, Ph.D., is a Research Ecologist with the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Credit: Gerardo Dillehay

Jennifer L. Wilkening is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

istorically, threats to mammalian wildlife were fairly easy to recognize. Species often succumbed to overharvesting, habitat destruction or degradation, invasive species, disease, or some combination of those insults. That is why it can be hard to wrap one’s head around why a species that is rarely hunted, often occurs in high densities, and lives on remote mountaintops in habitats that have not physically changed in extent or distribution appears to be in need of conservation attention. Yet that’s precisely the case with the American pika (Ochotona princeps), and the main force behind its recent decline in the interior Great Basin appears to be contemporary climate change (Beever et al. 2003, Beever et al. 2010, Beever et al. 2011). It is not news to any wildlife manager that climate change demands a new approach to conservation. However, research that we’ve undertaken over the last two decades demonstrates phenomena that might prove more surprising: Not only are pika populations now disappearing from wilderness areas and sites with lots of apparently intact habitat, but also the factors governing whether a popula-

A talus formation along Mohawk Canyon in central Nevada’s Toiyabe Range is home to a population of pikas, but the animals now occur at higher elevations than they once did, likely due to increasingly warm and dry conditions. Other sites where pikas were historically found are now entirely devoid of the species.


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tion survived or expired in the 20th century differ dramatically from the factors we’ve observed in the first decade of the 21st century (Beever et al. 2011). In other words, examining the dynamics of past population losses may not always help us predict the pattern of future losses. In the case of American pikas, accelerating climate change has rewritten the local-extinction “rule book.”

A Climate Loser

About the size and shape of a hamster, the American pika is a generalist herbivore. Pikas create and defend hay piles, which they rely on for energy throughout the winter, when they remain active under the snow surface (Smith and Weston 1990). The species occurs in talus slopes and broken-rock formations such as lava flows, mine tailings, roadcuts, rock quarries, and occasionally even decaying foundations of old buildings (Manning and Hagar 2011, Smith and Weston 1990). Pikas typically live at high elevations where cool, moist conditions prevail. The species’ range includes portions of 10 western U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, and paleontological records show that individuals of the Ochotona genus have inhabited the region for the last 150,000 years. The roughly 40-millionhectare area between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains that drains internally—the hydrographic Great Basin or “the Basin”—constitutes some of the warmest and driest portions of the species’ entire range. It is also the setting for our longest-running pika research. For several key reasons, American pikas in the Basin seem predisposed to fare Credit: Shana Weber

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poorly when the climate is altered (Beever et al. 2010). They have high energetic requirements because they are active year-round and don’t migrate or hibernate to avoid harsh winter conditions. Furthermore, compared to the enthusiastic breeding habits of rabbits and hares—pikas’ closest relatives—the species has a low reproductive capacity. Additionally, pikas are often closely tied to talus formations that have a naturally patchy distribution. This, combined with the fact that they typically do not disperse over large distances, means that they may not be able to move to new habitats as the climate shifts. Finally, pikas are physiologically vulnerable to fatal overheating, due to their thick fur and the small difference between their resting and upper-lethal body temperatures, as well as to prolonged bouts of extreme cold, due to their small body size, which translates to fewer fat reserves. In the 1990s, while a Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada-Reno, Erik Beever became interested in pikas in the Basin, which has 25 sites with museum records of pikas dating from 1898 to 1956. From 1994 to 1999, he visited each site to see if pikas still resided there. Along with then-University of Nevada-Reno master’s student Jennifer Wilkening and other colleagues, Beever revisited these sites from 2003 to 2008. To characterize the temperatures pikas experienced and would have experienced in these habitats, Wilkening placed thermal sensors in talus interstices near both active and old hay piles, respectively. Using what we know about pikas’ temperature tolerance, Wilkening defined chronic heat stress as the average summer temperature, acute heat stress as the number of days in which talus-interstice temperatures rose above 28°C, and acute cold stress as the number of days below -5°C or below -10°C as tallied by the sensors (Beever et al. 2010).

migrant individuals. It was a disquieting result, as less than a decade had passed since our last surveys at each site (Beever et al. 2010, Beever et al. 2011). This pattern of disappearance points to climate as a culprit. Our results reveal that pikas have disappeared from the hottest and driest sites of the Basin in both the 20th and 21st centuries. In addition, where pika populations still exist but have contracted, the animals no longer occupy the hottest

Credit: Shana Weber

To understand how pikas responded to a changing climate, researchers surveyed sites in the Great Basin where populations had been found historically. Beyond actually hearing or seeing a pika (above), finding active hay piles, such as this one in Oregon’s Kiger Gorge (below), can confirm pika occupancy. To build hay piles, pikas collect plants and allow them to dry in piles, which then serve as a source of winter food and bedding.

Lost to the Heat

What we found—or rather, didn’t find—was both surprising and somewhat unsettling. During surveys in the 1990s, Beever failed to find pikas at six of the 25 historically occupied sites. And though we revisited each of the 25 sites multiple times in the 2000s, our surveys not only failed to turn up any pikas at those six sites, but also identified three new sitelevel losses and functional extirpation of pikas from a fourth site, at which we spotted only one or two Credit: Shana Weber

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patches within sites. Throughout the Basin, sites of pika extirpation tended both to be hotter during the summer and to dip more frequently below cold thresholds (-5°C) in the winter than sites where pikas persisted, the latter pattern reflecting a lack of an insulating blanket of snow (Beever et al. 2010). Pikas in the Basin have also been on an upward march to avoid reduced snow packs and warmer summer temperatures, and the tempo of their climb has recently increased. The lowest elevation

models that best explained our data from the 2000s showed that climate-related variables had become even stronger predictors of the pattern of pika persistence in the 21st century. When we then tested models that included only climate-related variables against purely non-climate models and “mixed” models, we found that for both the most recent period of study and overall, the climate-only models presented plausibly the best-supported hypothesis of why the pattern of local extinctions unfolded as it did (Beever et al. 2011). To say that “climate change” was the main reason for extirpations, however, is probably overly simplistic. Across all analyses of climate metrics, our results indicated that the magnitude of climate change (defined as the difference between the means of the periods 1945-1975 and 1976-2006) predicted the pattern of pika losses across the Basin very poorly compared to either the short-term (2-year) or longerterm (62-year) prevailing climate at sites. Rather, it seems that pikas in the hottest and driest regions of the Basin could not accommodate conditions that became even hotter and drier. For example, they may have run up against energetic and physiological constraints that simply could not be circumvented.

Implications Beyond Pikas

Credit: Shana Weber

At a field site inside west-central Nevada’s Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot, author Erik Beever sets out a line-point transect to quantify the vegetation available to a pika that created a nearby hay pile. One way that climate change could impact pika populations indirectly is by altering the abundance or nutritional value of their forage plants.

at which pikas were found rose an average of 13.2 meters per decade within sites from the time of historical surveys to our 1990s surveys. In contrast, between the 1990s and our 2000s surveys, we found that the lowest pika-occupied elevation moved upward at a rate of far more than 100 meters per decade (Beever et al. 2011). When analyzing these data, it became clear that the factors influencing population extirpations looked much different in the 21st century than they did during the 20th. To predict the patterns of extirpation that we saw, we evaluated competing models. In contrast to our models based on data from historic records through the 1990s surveys, the


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The pace and changing nature of these contemporary shifts in occupancy are striking. Before drawing sweeping conclusions about how our findings might be applied elsewhere, however, it is important to place our work in context. First, the default position of wildlife managers and researchers should be to assume that both the status and trend of wildlife species will likely vary greatly across species’ ranges (Hallett et al. 2004, Murphy and Lovett-Doust 2007), so our observations at these 25 sites may not be indicative of pika population trends elsewhere. Similarly, because life-history strategies, physiology, and other characteristics vary so widely among species, it makes sense to assume that different species would accordingly exhibit varying responses to contemporary climate changes (Guralnick 2006, Moritz et al. 2008, Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Even other montane small mammals could respond to warming in a much different fashion than has been observed for Great Basin pikas. Climate scientists have documented that temperatures are rising at an increasing rate (IPCC 2007), and there has been a concomitant acceleration in

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physical responses of Earth’s systems, including contracting glaciers, receding sea ice, rising sea level, and shrinking snowpacks. In contrast, examples of accelerations in wildlife responses in the face of changing climate, as we have documented in pikas of the Basin, have been much rarer to date. Nonetheless, as the speed and drivers of population losses change, scientists should expect ecological surprises. Such surprises seem especially likely in community-level and secondary effects of climate change. For example, although warmer summers may directly affect pikas physiologically, the higher temperatures could also weaken their immune systems, reduce the nutritional value of their forage plants, or increase their risk of predation. Predation risk would undoubtedly increase if pikas avoid midday heat and instead emerge from the protected areas under the talus surface at dawn, dusk, and nighttime, when many of their predators are most active. The use of species-distribution models, increasingly important tools for addressing climate-change effects, can help articulate alternative scenarios and possibly reduce the magnitude of these ecological surprises. Species-distribution modeling—using coarse-grained analyses of distributional shifts for tens to hundreds of species—will provide general trends and may help provide upper and lower bounds for predictions in forecasts. Finer-scale models will aid in focusing on the mechanisms underlying responses and incorporate both climatic and non-climatic factors to better inform management and conservation decisions at the local level. Combined, these models could increase our confidence when choosing areas that would be most suitable for reintroductions. For pikas, models could help us identify physically suitable talus habitat that also falls within the appropriate temperature ranges for pika survival. Such models, informed by measurements of wildlife-relevant microclimates and a solid understanding of species’ behavior, physiology, and life history, could also help us identify areas that, if protected, would reap disproportionately high rewards in terms of species conservation.

Facing the Future

In this era of a new ecological rule book ushered in by contemporary climate change, there are several actions that can be taken now to better inform our actions going forward:

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• Pursue robust wildlife monitoring—for instance, adding density measurements to simple occupancy monitoring—to alert us to early-warning signs of ecosystem alteration. • Use multi-disciplinary approaches to lend insight into the mechanisms by which contemporary climate acts upon species. For example, connectivity can be better characterized if combining several types of information—such as genetic data from diverse assemblages of species, GIS analyses that identify “paths of least resistance” in current landscapes, and species-distribution forecasts—rather than relying on just one of these types of analyses. • Identify potentially vulnerable habitats by using either data on wildlife-relevant microclimates or, if those are unavailable, well-informed proxies (Beever et al. 2011). • Mitigate other factors that compromise species’ ability to accommodate changes in climate. For pikas, this may include conserving landscape features that provide more-stable microclimates (e.g., cold-air drainages or large boulders that are preferentially used by pikas), acquiring or conserving habitat corridors, monitoring and managing emerging infectious diseases, and conserving genetic diversity. • Create climatic microrefugia to provide the mosaic of habitat that species may need to sample during portions of their lifetimes. Managers could, for example, retain thicker duff layers in forests, restore structurally more-complex and -diverse forest canopies (McGraw et al. in review), or conserve areas of cold-air drainage. Wildlife researchers and managers must grapple with more complexity and uncertainty in coming decades, as no single line of research will fully explain the patterns we will observe in wildlife populations and whole ecosystems (Landres 1992). For this reason, it may be more efficient in the long term to manage and restore ecosystem function and resiliency rather than focusing on individual components, such as a particular species (Mawdsley et al. 2009). Although not easy, we may all come to appreciate that the new rules of the game demand novel approaches to wildlife conservation and research. This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts.


Role of the U.S. Forest Service Helping Forests, Grasslands, and wildlife adapt to shifts in Climate By Monica S. Tomosy, Frank R. Thompson III, and Douglas A. Boyce, Jr.

T Credit: Jim Greer

Monica S. Tomosy is the U.S. Forest Service Liaison to the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.

his fall, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will release a comprehensive new guidebook designed to help managers develop climate adaptation options for National Forests (Peterson et al. 2011, in press). The adaptation process is based on partnerships between local resource managers and scientists working collaboratively to understand potential climate change effects, identify important resource issues, and develop management options to minimize damaging impacts and capitalize on new opportunities.

At its core, the new guidebook highlights the crucial link between science and management, bridging the two with practical tools designed for the field and based on forest type. For example, one section outlines a science-based triage system enabling managers to rank wildlife habitat as either needing immediate treatment, stable, or too far gone to save.

An awareness of the need to cope with climate change is nothing new to the Forest Service, which has been conducting climate change research for over 20 years since receiving authority to address the issue in a 1990 amendment to the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (PL 93-378). As amended, the Act calls on USFS to “account for the effects of global climate change on forest and rangeland conditions, including potential effects on the geographic ranges of species, and on forest and rangeland products” (PL 101-606). Today, the need for such action has become acute as rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns begin to make their mark on the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands under USFS management—and on the wildlife those lands support. The USFS is therefore addressing the relationship between climate change and invasive species, wildfires, insect infestations, water supply, economics, and biodiversity conservation. It has also launched several new efforts to support this work. Climate Change Advisor. In March 2010, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell named David Cleaves to fill a new post as Climate Change Advisor. Cleaves specializes in decision science and risk analysis, and his office helps USFS programs and regions coordinate a national climate change response. “Communication, alignment, and integration are the challenges that this office is undertaking,” says Cleaves, who is “encouraged” by USFS’ growing ability to “integrate climate change into our traditional programs.”

Credit: Bill DeLuca

A gray jay takes a perch in a spruce tree in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. As temperatures warm, spruce, fir, and other cold-weather conifers may give way to mixed and deciduous forest expanding upward from lower elevations, threatening the habitat of various species of jays, chickadees, warblers, and other montane species.


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National Roadmap. In February 2011, the Forest Service published a National Roadmap for Responding to Climate Change, which identifies short-term and long-term actions to assess risks, engage broad-based partnerships, and manage resources through

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adaptation and mitigation. Actions range from identifying immediately vulnerable species and ecosystems to forecasting long-range changes in land-use patterns and human uses of natural resources. Planning Rule. In February, USFS released its draft National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule, which requires managers to evaluate effects of climate change on ecological sustainability. The plan includes a monitoring provision to detect changes in conditions related to wide-ranging wildlife species such as peregrine falcon or grizzly bear that live outside National Forest or Grassland boundaries. It also includes an assessment of ecological, economic, and social conditions and sustainability trends within the broader landscape. This combination of broad-scale assessments beyond forest boundaries, plus monitoring, should enable managers to make effective project and policy decisions. The final rule is expected by the end of 2011. Performance Scorecard. The USFS implemented a Climate Change Performance Scorecard to assess progress in 10 different areas for each National Forest and Grassland. Scores are assigned in areas such as employee education, carbon reduction, setting priorities, developing alliances, assessing vulnerability, and integrating science with management. Interagency Task Force. The USFS actively participates in the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ’s) interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, launched in 2009. The Task Force includes a working group that is developing a national strategy to safeguard fish, wildlife, plants, and the natural systems upon which they depend. This strategy will be prepared for release in 2012. Because climate impacts on wildlife spread well beyond National Forests and Grasslands, the Forest Service embraces a landscape-scale conservation approach that considers all lands and multiple users, management objectives, and partners. “We cannot sustain the nation’s forests by focusing just on the national forests,” says Chief Tidwell. “Forest ecosystems typically form mosaics—mosaics of plant and animal communities and mosaics of land ownerships” (Tidwell 2009). USFS professionals therefore work with the Department of the Interior’s Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), the National Climate Change

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Courtesy of USFS

Addressing USFS environmental analysts, forest ecologist Linda Parker discusses an ongoing ecosystem atmosphere study (ChEAS) to assess carbon flux within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin, a net carbon sink. Researchers will conduct an experimental timber harvest and assess changes in the exchange of CO2 between the forest and atmosphere.

and Wildlife Science Center, and regional Climate Science Centers, as well as with the CEQ’s Regional Adaptation Consortia, to identify conservation needs, determine scientific priorities, provide expertise in science-based land management, and leverage resources to meet common objectives. As articulated through its Global Change Research Strategy, the USFS focuses climate change science on four key areas: adaptation science, mitigation, decision support, and collaboration and delivery. Wildlife and climate research in these areas is accomplished through five USFS Research Stations, two Threat Assessment Centers (Eastern and Western), the Puerto Rico-based International Institute of Tropical Forestry, and a network of university, agency, industry, and NGO partners. In addition, the USFS has 81 Experimental Forests and Ranges and a Forest Inventory and Analysis program through which long-term research and monitoring have been conducted for decades. The following examples illustrate USFS efforts to help wildlife, fish, and their habitats adapt to a shifting climate.

Strides in Adaptation Science

Understanding and predicting species distributions and range shifts in response to climate change is critical to developing conservation strategies such as assisted migration. USFS scientists have documented poleward range shifts of over 200 winter resident birds such as Cooper’s hawk, northern bobwhite, and clay-colored sparrow across North America (LaSorte and Thompson 2007), and have mapped potential future distributions of tree and

Coauthor Affiliations Frank R. Thompson III, Ph.D., is a U.S. Forest Service Research Wildlife Scientist at the Northern Research Station Lab in Columbia, Missouri. Douglas A. Boyce Jr., Ph. D., is the U.S. Forest Service National Wildlife Ecologist based in Washington, D.C.


A brown bear hunts for salmon in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. USFS scientists are studying phenological impacts of climate change on salmon that affect fish availability for bears, birds, and other wildlife. The wolverine (far right) depends on areas with spring snow cover for dens and dispersal pathways. USFS researchers use models to predict how climate changes will affect such wildlife habitats and populations.

Credit: Wayne Owen

bird species by modeling habitats based on environmental variables and future climate scenarios (Prasad et al. 2009). “We have recently documented long-term shifts in elevational distribution of montane birds in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, along with correlations of bird abundance and reproductive success with temperature and precipitation,” says USFS scientist David King (King et al. 2008). Because future climates will likely stress wildlife habitat across the continent, the USFS is using projected climate-change data to map climateinduced shifts in habitat location, extent, and quality. Typically, states hoping to increase populations of species of conservation concern (such as the greater prairie-chicken) focus their conservation efforts on habitats expected to be under the greatest stress from climate change (such as the grasslandforest interface). However, USFS researchers studying first-generation State Wildlife Action Plans developed a terrestrial climate stress index, demonstrating that “the locations where current stressors were most pronounced did not overlap with the location of high future stress associated with climate change” (Joyce et al. 2008). Such information can help states prioritize conservation actions. Similarly, three researchers from the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station developed a climate adaptation tool called the System for Assessing Vulnerability of Species (SAVS), designed to help managers assess relative vulnerability or resilience


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

Credit: John Rohrer

of vertebrate species in habitats with changing climates (Bagne et al. 2011). The SAVS tool asks 22 questions about predictive criteria in four broad areas—habitat, physiology, phenology, and biotic interactions. The point total creates a relative vulnerability score, which in turn helps inform management action. Forest Service adaptation science incorporates historical data, habitat analyses, GIS mapping, radio telemetry, and genetic data. In studying wolverines in high-elevation forests of the northern Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range, for example, USFS researchers described the species’ bioclimatic envelope, evaluated landscape-level conservation genetics, and projected the potential effects of global warming on the extent and connectivity of wolverine habitat. They’ve found that the wolverine’s circumboreal range and dispersal corridors are limited by the distribution of spring snow cover, indicating that the species is highly susceptible to warming climates in the southern portions of its range (Aubry et al. 2007, Schwartz et al. 2009, Copeland et al. 2010, McKelvey et al. 2011). Looking forward, the Forest Service is, for the first time, applying various climate scenarios linked to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with three climate projections per scenario to project future forest and grassland conditions. This effort will be part of USFS’s Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment, a decadal analysis of water, wildlife, recreation,

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rangeland, and forest conditions. The resulting RPA report will be a foundation for future adaptation science by linking wildlife habitat and demographic projections with vulnerability assessments and management scenarios.

drought, or flood) are expected to impact desired future conditions (e.g., water storage or biodiversity). The program then offers relevant management options, such as thinning, stream restoration, or altering the mix of species for planting.

Mitigation Science

In the George Washington National Forests (GWNF), for example, insights gained through TACCIMO led managers to modify their approach for managing native brook trout and beaver habitat. “The geospatial report allowed us to scale down potential changes in temperature and precipitation to the GWNF,” says forest ecologist Ken Landgraf. “It was a great help in preparing the environmental effects section of our EIS.”

The need for adaptation is influenced by climate mitigation activities, such as reducing CO2 or other greenhouse gas emissions or increasing carbon sequestration. Adaptation activities also can affect mitigation options. Nationally, forests and wood products sequester an average of 790 million metric tons of CO2 per year on 253 million hectares of forestland, making forests and wood products the most significant source of land-based carbon sequestration (Heath et al. 2011). The USFS understands the carbon value of sustaining forests, of planting them where none existed historically (afforestation), of replanting in historic locations (reforestation), and of using forest biomass as an alternative to fossil fuel (Ryan 2008). USFS has therefore conducted a great deal of research to understand carbon movement and storage throughout forest ecosystems, and applies that knowledge to forest management. To help land managers better understand the carbon role of forests, the USFS has developed several tools for carbon inventory and accounting. These include the Carbon On Line Estimator (COLE), the i-Tree for assessing urban forests, the U.S. forest Carbon Calculation Tool (CCT), and the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), which models forest growth and yield.

The USFS provides further decision support by integrating landscape, climate, and wildlife models to assess impacts on habitat suitability, abundance, and viability for wildlife species as diverse as martens, songbirds, and even walrus and polar bears. These analyses, which provide spatial and demographic implications of different climate-change management strategies, are being applied at the scale of landscapes, eco-regions, Bird Conservation Joint Ventures, and LCCs (Amstrup et al. 2008, Cushman et al. 2011, Jay et al. 2011, Millspaugh and Thompson 2009).

Providing Decision Support

Collaboration and Delivery

Ready access to accurate, science-based information about land management options and implications is key to conservation planning. To help advance this goal, the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center has developed the Template to Assess Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO), a web-based tool to help federal, state, and private land managers navigate the maze of climate-change information. TACCIMO uses peer-reviewed publications, regional databases, and environmental modeling to help managers evaluate the projected impacts of climate change and other environmental stressors on forests and grasslands. A land manager can select a region or location and examine which stresses (e.g., wildfire,

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To provide scientific information that land managers can readily use, the USFS offers a web-based Climate Change Resource Center featuring peer-reviewed research and practical information that focuses on the application of climate change science to ecosystem management. Though the main audience is land managers working on U.S. public lands, private landowners and international ecosystem managers also use this resource, which includes video lectures, case studies, fact sheets, and links to source documents. On the ground, the USFS recently launched a pilot project in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) designed to provide a model of regionally coordinated climate change adaptation planning. CNNF staff used the Climate Change

Credit: Ryan Brady/Wisconsin DNR

A flash of red reveals a male spruce grouse, seen in his courtship display territory in Wisconsin’s ChequamegonNicolet National Forest. This game bird inhabits the northern forests of the U.S. and Canada, feeding largely on the needles of spruce and other weatherdependent conifers.


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Response Framework Project to assess climate vulnerability and potential adaptation tactics for spruce grouse. Working with regional partners, they determined that spruce grouse habitat was highly vulnerable to climate change due to decreased regeneration of preferred tree species, changes in hydrology, and encroachment of nonpreferred species. “Our team learned that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for responding to climate change,” says the CNNF’s Linda Parker. “The project provided us with a menu of approaches to draw from, and an ‘Adaptation Workbook’ helped us apply them.” The collaborative model developed in this pilot program is currently expanding to seven additional states and 10 national forests.

storage, downscaled models, and observed ecological changes. Such practical science-based information can help land managers plan for a range of uncertainties. Through collaboration and knowledge-sharing, the Forest Service is integrating climate change adaptation science into land management practices to conserve biodiversity along with other values that forests provide. How wildlife will respond to climate change is uncertain, but it is clear that wildlife and their habitats will stand a better chance when essential scientific knowledge becomes available to public, private, and international wildlife professionals.

The Forest Service offers in-person workshops and online training for land managers. The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, for example, offers a week-long course titled Training in Advanced Climate Change Topics (TACCT), which covers climate science, ecosystem adaptation, and greenhouse gas mitigation. Online, a short course titled Adapting to Climate Change covers 15 topics such as forest carbon

This article has been reviewed by subject-matter experts within the USFS.

For a complete bibliography and additional resources about USFS climate science, go to

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The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

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A Race Against the Clock Can PiÑon-Juniper Woodlands Migrate Fast Enough? By Shauna Leavitt


cross the western United States, Clark’s nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) and piñon pine trees share a symbiotic relationship. This corvid bird relies on the pine seeds for food. By storing a winter cache of seeds in the ground and on steep slopes, the birds increase the trees’ chances of sprouting new growth (Wall 1968). Without the trees, the birds would lose a valuable food source, and without the birds, the trees would have trouble reproducing. But that dynamic could soon change.

Keeping Up with Climate

Piñon-juniper (PJ) woodlands—the most common woodlands in the American Southwest—cover 36 million acres in parts of 10 U.S. states and into northern Mexico. Vital habitat for birds and other wildlife species, these woodlands are likely to be affected by climate change. In 2005, for example, intense heat and drought weakened millions of piñon pines throughout the Southwest. Bark beetles delivered the fatal blow, causing a massive die-off across the landscape (University of Arizona 2006). Likewise, in 2002, researchers linked a piñon pine woodland die-off in New Mexico to global warming, reporting a 90 percent piñon mortality rate that year (Landscape Online). In response to changing temperature and precipitation regime, PJ woodlands distribution is likely to shift northwards. These woodlands are defined by a variety of piñon and juniper species, with junipers more tolerant to extreme weather and piñon species more sensitive to severe high temperatures and droughts. For example, piñon pines typically occur below approximately 40 degrees latitude at elevations of 4,500 to 7,500 feet; however, researchers project that piñons could shift up to as much as 43 degrees latitude. In fact, new isolated piñon pine populations are already taking root in northern Utah at higher elevations, and researchers anticipate similar changes in the future. If the projected changes in distribution occur, it is cause for concern. PJ woodlands offer vital habitat

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to more than 90 wildlife species, produce seed for birds and forage for livestock, provide watershed protection, and are a source for fuel wood and commercial products such as piñon nuts. Corvid birds, including nutcrackers and jays, rely heavily on nourishment from pine seeds. In addition, raptors such as hawks, falcons, and owls use the mature woodlands’ branches for nesting and hunting, while mule deer and large ungulates use the woodlands as a food source and for thermal and security cover during the winter. With so many species reliant on the PJ woodlands, scientists have begun asking the question: As the climate shifts at continent-wide scales, can these woodlands move fast enough to survive?

Credit: Rachel Quistberg

Shauna Leavitt is a writer with the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University.

Projections and Estimates

In 2009, the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) gathered a team of scientists—including Gretchen Moi-

Credit: Kenneth M. Hanson

This western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica) is just one of several wildlife species that rely on the piñon-juniper woodlands for food and habitat. As the impacts of climate change bear down on the woodlands, scientists wonder how these species will adapt.


sen and Tracey Frescino of the RMRS; Thomas Edwards of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University; and Niklaus Zimmerman of the Swiss Federal Research Lab in Zurich, Switzerland—to model how climate change may impact PJ woodlands in western North America.

Credit: John D. Shaw

Brown piñon trees in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest (above) fell victim to an insect infestation and drought that struck the region in 2003-04. Although juniper species are more tolerant to extreme weather, piñons barely survive severe high temperatures and drought. In a possible migration to escape rising temperatures, an isolated population of young piñon pines (below) inches northward along a rocky ridge in Utah’s Logan Canyon.

They began by analyzing forest and woodland data collected by the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program. To obtain the data, USFSFIA researchers inventory forests and woodlands throughout the U.S., collect data from permanent sample plots approximately every three miles across the nation’s forests, and record the condition of woodlands by noting the species, health, size, growth, mortality, and status of the forests and woodlands. “We collect this subset of data annually so there is a treasure chest of information to draw from,” says Moisen, a research forester. “This inventory data is phenomenal by itself, but we have to integrate it with other data sources to understand [why] things are changing.” To model how the PJ woodlands might change under different climate scenarios, the RMRS team collected data for every PJ woodland tree species on each sample plot and noted which trees were present and which were absent. They compiled a huge forest-woodland data set from 17 states, gathering information on the elements that would determine the potential migration rate of the woodlands. These include “the regeneration rate, mortality rate, and how these elements change at the edges of the distribution compared to the center of the distribution,” says team member Zimmerman. Researchers have also modeled changes 80 years from now, which will help identify and highlight potential areas that offer climactic and environmental conditions conducive to these species (see map on page 49).

What Lies Ahead

Credit: Jacob R. Gibson


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

Based on their research so far, the team has found that the most sensitive part of the distribution is the “leading edge”—where new populations are occurring, such as the new piñon pine woodlands growing in northern Utah. The conditions for seed germination and establishment require a high quality, narrow subset of environmental conditions, such as “more moisture, more warmth, and other elements more conducive to the growth of saplings,” Edwards says. © The Wildlife Society

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Conversely, the “trailing edge” is where the PJ woodlands are shrinking or “contracting.” If the leading edge can keep up with the die-off at the trailing edge, the woodlands will successfully migrate with changing climate. This not only means maintaining the same amount of trees, but also the same ratio of young and old trees. The sustainability risk comes if the leading edge can’t keep up with the die-off of the trailing edge, which could be caused by competition with other tree species blocking northward movement, or an inability to find soil, moisture, and temperature favorable for seedlings and saplings to grow. “It is possible that the trailing edge of the woodlands will spring forward toward the leading edge like a slinky,” Edwards says. This situation could cause a sudden and potentially dramatic loss of mature PJ woodlands. The remaining woodlands would consist mostly of young stands, leaving very few seed-producing mature trees. Scientists have not yet modeled the impact of the shifting vegetation on wildlife species in the region. “More vagile wildlife species (birds especially) can shift distributions quite easily with the changing vegetation,” Edwards says. However, researchers are quite concerned about the effects of changes in structural components in the woodland canopy, mainly because of alterations in PJ woodland age structure that’s caused by changes in climate. Some potential impacts include loss of seeds produced by older, mature trees, and the resultant impacts on seed-dependent animal species.

Management Implications

With data about woodland composition and movement, wildlife managers can begin drafting site-specific regeneration and management plans that take into account wildlife interactions, the impact of growing communities, livestock grazing, watershed sustainability, and overall health of PJ woodlands. In southern Utah, for example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Fire and Fuels Program is implementing an informal practice to preserve PJ woodlands during prescribed burns and other fire-management actions. They are hoping to “maintain connectivity and continuity for big game in larger landscape-level projects when multiple watersheds are involved,” says Gabriel J. Bissonette, a GIS specialist with the BLM. A secondary benefit of BLM fire treatments is the practice of throwing down seed to build up the © The Wildlife Society

Credit: Thomas Edwards

understory in the PJ woodland. “We find in most [PJ] systems the understory is almost gone, so we try to build up the diversity in the understory so both deer and elk have something to eat,” Bissonette says. This practice also provides more stability for watersheds. In addition, the future health of the PJ woodlands may be better predicted and managed by the use of models, such as those developed by the RMRS team, which show the anticipated shift of the PJ woodlands. These models can be used by wildlife managers in their efforts to help the habitat survive the impacts of climate change and accommodate the largest diversity and numbers of wildlife species that benefit from the woodlands. The piñon and juniper are slow-growing species, and typically take approximately 20 to 25 years to mature to the point of bearing seeds. Research of these species must therefore consider not only short-term movement but long-term implications and projections. As research on these woodlands continues, wildlife managers across the American Southwest must continue to develop sound management plans for wildlife species dependent on these ago-old woodlands.

This map shows the potential spread and mortality of the piñon pine species as a result of changes in climate over the next 80 years. Blue shows where piñon now exist, and bright greens mark where the species is likely to expand because of suitable climatic conditions. In contrast, pale green represents areas where piñon exist but probably won’t regenerate because of unsuitable climate conditions. Orange and red show the projected extent of mortality in areas that will no longer be suitable for PJ woodland species.


Climate Change and Wildlife How is TWS Helping to Address the Coming Challenge? By Michael Hutchins


Courtesy of Michael Hutchins

Michael Hutchins, Ph.D., is Executive Director/CEO of The Wildlife Society.

his issue of The Wildlife Professional contains several articles focused on the topic of “climate change adaptation,” a relatively new term describing management efforts to help native wildlife and plants adapt to environmental changes associated with a warming planet. Scientists are predicting a rise in the Earth’s temperature of 2 to 11.5 degrees on average by 2100, an outcome that could result in more extreme regional and local weather patterns and associated ecological change (Pew Center on Global Climate Change). Managers and scientists have been giving a great deal of thought to how our native fish, wildlife, plants, and biotic communities will be impacted by climate change, and to what—if anything—can be done about it. The Wildlife Society (TWS) believes something can be done, and has in fact been working on this issue for several years. In 2004, TWS published a Technical Review titled “Global Climate Change and Wildlife in North America.” Written by a team of experts led by Doug Inkley of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), this document summarizes evidence of a changing climate and discusses its potential impacts on North America’s wildlife and their habitats. Shortly thereafter, the Society adopted a climatechange position statement, which concluded that “research conducted in the past two decades definitely shows that rapid worldwide climate change occurred in the 20th century, and will likely continue to occur for decades to come.” Now being updated and revised, the new draft statement notes that “the documented effects of climate change on populations and range distributions of wildlife are often species specific and highly variable. Isolated habitats and fauna, rare species, ectotherms, and habitat specialists are particularly sensitive to such changes. As a result, there is likely to be an increase in generalist species and a decrease in specialist species, leading to a decline in overall diversity.”


The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011

TWS has initiated a variety of additional actions, often working with partners, to demonstrate leadership on this issue. Among them: Collaborative Science. In 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) asked TWS, the Ecological Society of America (ESA), and the Meridian Institute (MI) to assist with conceptual planning for the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), mandated by Congress to provide scientific support for climate adaptation. These four groups organized and facilitated five listening sessions across the U.S. to obtain input from hundreds of expert stakeholders from universities, NGOs, tribes, and government agencies. A team organized by TWS and ESA synthesized the results and produced a final report and set of recommendations. This process had a direct impact on the structure and function of the NCCWSC and its satellite Climate Science Centers, some of which are now up and running. The effort also helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in further conceptualizing its Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs)—regional-scale programs designed to facilitate climate change adaptation. Though most of these programs are still experimental, they represent unprecedented examples of cooperation among state and federal governmental agencies, tribes, NGOs, industry, and universities. Policy. TWS’ government affairs department has worked cooperatively with partners such as the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the National Wildlife Federation to inform members of Congress about the crucial need to include funding for fish and wildlife adaptation in any climate change bill. Education. In 2008, TWS’ member magazine, The Wildlife Professional, published a special issue focused on climate change. Widely distributed, it helped inform TWS members as well as leaders in state and federal natural resource agencies and key decision makers in Congress. As part of that effort,

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TWS also published an online Climate Change Library—a bibliography of publications related to climate impacts on various wildlife taxa and issues such as hydrology, human and animal health, invasive species, and fire ecology. Recent updates to the bibliography offer the latest in climate-related research and resources. Phenology. In partnership with USA National Phenology Network (NPN), USGS, and FWS, TWS has been helping to develop a wildlife component that complements NPN’s longstanding plant phenology program, a national effort that uses citizen-scientist volunteers to track seasonal changes in the phenology of selected plant species. With its new wildlife component, the program will be an important public education vehicle and analytical tool to help biologists understand how climate change influences shortand long-term plant and wildlife phenology. Developing Expertise. In 2009, TWS launched the Climate Change and Wildlife Working Group, which focuses on stakeholder collaboration to address climate change impacts on ecological systems. Mitigation. TWS recently added a $5 mandatory green fee to our Annual Conference registration to partially compensate for energy consumed by travel to the conference. The funds typically help protect or restore a natural area near the conference site that can provide wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. Outreach. In 2010, I had the opportunity to participate in three “Conservation Leaders’ Forums” at FWS’ National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in West Virginia. The goal of these meetings—which included leaders from state and federal government agencies, conservation NGOs, tribes, professional and scientific societies, and universities—was to lay the conceptual framework for a National Fish and Wildlife Climate Adaptation Strategy. I worked with a team to write the foundational document for this strategy, then moderated a series of panel discussions and listening sessions to obtain stakeholder feedback on the concept. I organized and moderated climate change panel discussions at the 2010 North American conference, Society for Conservation Biology,

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and TWS. And after participating in meetings to update the National Climate Assessment, I am slated to co-chair a committee of representatives from state and federal agencies, tribes, NGOs, user/landowner groups, and practicing scientists to provide the USGS with feedback on operations of the new NCCWSC. All such activities help natural resource professionals share information and ideas about climate adaptation strategies and give TWS a voice at the table. When TWS is involved in such collaborative efforts, we’re able to influence policy, provide scientific expertise, help develop practical adaptation strategies, and articulate a national climate adaptation strategy. Collaboration is clearly the way forward on climate change, a significant factor influencing the future of our native wildlife, its habitats, and our profession. TWS will continue to play a leadership role in addressing this emerging challenge.

University Press of Colorado Mammals of Colorado Second Edition

by David M. Armstrong, James P. Fitzgerald, and Carron A. Meaney Thoroughly revised and updated, Mammals of Colorado, Second Edition is a comprehensive reference on the nine orders and 128 species of Colorado’s recent native fauna, detailing each species’ description, habitat, distribution, population ecology, diet and foraging, predators and parasites, behavior, reproduction and development, and population status. Amateur and professional naturalists, students, vertebrate biologists, and ecologists as well as those involved in conservation and wildlife management in Colorado will find value in this comprehensive volume. • 800.627.7377 Editorial offices: 5589 Arapahoe Ave, Suite 206C, Boulder CO 80303 720.406.8849 Founded in 1965, the University Press of Colorado is a cooperative publishing enterprise supported, in part, by Adams State College, Colorado State University, Fort Lewis College, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Regis University, University of Colorado, University of Northern Colorado, & Western State College of Colorado.


Climate Package, The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011  

Climate package from The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011.

Climate Package, The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011  

Climate package from The Wildlife Professional, Fall 2011.