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News Release

Date: September 12, 2013

Developing climate change vulnerability assessments – a new starting point

FORT COLLINS, Colo., September 12, 2013 – Climate change is emerging as a dominant challenge for natural resource managers and decision-makers throughout the United States and especially in the Southwest as they strive to integrate climate change into current and future management plans. Agencies and conservation groups are calling for “climate change vulnerability assessments” that evaluate how animals, vegetation and ecosystems respond to changing climates and conditions, yet a major challenge is sorting through the immense volume of relevant literature to select assessment approaches. Such literature can be difficult to access or unavailable, or knowledge for a species or geographical area may be missing and often does not fulfill the specific characteristics needed to make a vulnerability assessment useful. This may no longer be the case thanks to the newly published report, Review and Recommendations for Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Approaches With Examples From the Southwest.

USDA Forest Service scientist Megan Friggens led a team of scientists from the Forest Service and the University of Arizona to develop this report with two objectives in mind:

  1. Review pertinent information regarding methods and approaches used to conduct climate change vulnerability assessments, and
  2. Provide natural resource managers with an updated summary of knowledge regarding vulnerability to climate change of species and habitats in the American Southwest.

The report begins by defining and discussing climate change vulnerability assessment concepts and approaches, and then examines major methods used to conduct such assessments. It then concludes by reviewing and synthesizing the information presented in vulnerability assessments conducted for the southwestern United States. Overall, the report provides managers with a starting point upon which to build comprehensive and targeted assessments and plans in the future.

This report is available at www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/44184. You can request a printed copy by calling 970-498-1393 and reference RMRS-GTR-309 in your request.

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is one of seven regional units that make up the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development organization - the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world. The Station maintains 12 field laboratories throughout a 12 state territory encompassing the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Plains, and administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds, while maintaining long-term databases for these areas. RMRS research is broken into seven science program areas that serve the Forest Service as well as other federal and state agencies, international organizations, private groups, and individuals. To find out more about the RMRS go to www.fs.fed.us/rmrs. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usfs_rmrs.


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