You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Climate change vulnerability assessments inform management efforts for species of conservation concern

Photo of Findings that both drought and flooding conditions negatively impacted survival rates and the likelihood of population persistence in the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake’s isolated wetland habitats were used in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Eastern Massasauga Species Status Assessment. Findings that both drought and flooding conditions negatively impacted survival rates and the likelihood of population persistence in the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake’s isolated wetland habitats were used in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Eastern Massasauga Species Status Assessment. Snapshot : Vulnerability assessment focuses on understanding how climate change, along with other factors such as land use change, affects species of conservation concern. Approaches that measure the sensitivity and exposure of species to climate variability across their ranges can help identify regions of especially high risk and regions that may offer refuge from climate change. Studies of several species in the U.S. Upper Midwest revealed that the consequences of climate change can be very different for species with different habitat conditions.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Pomara, Lazarus Y.  
Research Location : Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1312

Summary

Climate change vulnerability assessment is a method for estimating the extent to which species are exposed to changes in climate across different parts of their range, as well as their ecological sensitivities to those changes. With this information, researchers can assess the consequences of past climate variability and future climate change for species of conservation concern and can study how these consequences may vary across a specie’s range. In collaboration with the Climate Change Ecology Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, an ecologist at the Forest Service’s Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center developed full life cycle, spatial population models to perform vulnerability assessments for Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus), Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus), and Henslow's Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowi). Findings, while surprising in some cases, have helped researchers develop management recommendations by identifying climate refugia as well as high-risk regions. For example, it is commonly assumed that as the climate warms, optimal conditions for northerly species will shift farther north. However, the team found that Henslow's Sparrow was more sensitive to precipitation across its midwestern grassland habitat, and that shifts in precipitation patterns are expected to result in more southerly climate refugia for this species.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Strategic
Program Areas

Priority
Areas