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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Major Shifts in Wildlife Habitats Projected for the 21st Century in Northwest Alaska Under Changing Climates

Photo of A drained tundra lake with remnant pools in northwest Alaska. USDA Forest ServiceA drained tundra lake with remnant pools in northwest Alaska. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Climate is changing roughly twice as fast in the Arctic than it is further south, thus providing an "early warning system" for impending changes elsewhere. In northwest Alaska, forests are expanding, permafrost is melting, tundra fires are increasing, and lakes are draining.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Marcot, Bruce G. , Ph.D. 
Research Location : Alaska
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 825


Scientists projected the effects of shifts in wildlife habitats of all 162 bird and 39 mammal species occurring in the region, under changing climate and associated biological and physical conditions for the 21st century. This area of the northwest is larger than the U.S. state of Georgia. Habitat of half of all species will likely increase and nearly half will decrease. Habitat will decline for a greater proportion of mammal species than bird species. Declines include habitat of small mammals which are key prey for many carnivores and predators, and of half of all bird and mammal species used by local communities for subsistence hunting and trapping.

Regional agencies and communities are using these findings as they consider how subsistence use of wildlife of the region will likely change, particularly with projected declines in caribou, furbearers, geese, and swans. The National Park Service is using these findings in climate change adaptation planning. These findings also have been used during the Bureau of Land Management's Central Yukon Rapid Ecosystem Assessment exercise and by the Seward Peninsula Rapid Ecosystem Assessment.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Alaska Ecoscience
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey