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The Cold Water Climate Shield: Prioritizing high-value aquatic resources

Date: September 11, 2015


Background

Populations of many cold-water species are likely to decline this century with global warming, but declines will vary spatially and some populations will persist even under extreme climate change scenarios.

Map identifying potential cold-water habitats for juvenile Bull Trout
Map identifying potential cold-water habitats for juvenile Bull Trout
Especially cold habitats could provide important refugia from both future environmental change and invasions by non-native species that prefer warmer waters. The Climate Shield website hosts geospatial data and related information that describes specific locations of cold-water refuge streams for native Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout across the northwestern United States. Forecasts about the locations of refugia could enable the protection of key watersheds, be used to rally support among multiple stakeholders, and provide a foundation for planning climate-smart conservation networks that improve the odds of preserving native trout populations through the 21st century.

Methods

High-resolution NorWeST stream temperature climate scenarios developed from multiple interagency databases (>15,000 monitoring sites, >80 contributing agencies) were used to make precise predictions across the range of Cutthroat Trout and ESA-listed Bull Trout about which streams will be resistant to non-native species invasions and will serve as climate refugia this century. The information is available as user-friendly digital maps and GIS databases from the Climate Shield website for conservation planning purposes.

Thermalscape mapping provides insights into aquatic resources for conservation prioritization and restoration.
Thermalscape mapping provides insights into aquatic resources for conservation prioritization and restoration.

Key Findings

  • High-resolution stream temperature scenarios to delineate invasion resistant, climate refuge streams across >450,000 stream kilometers in the northwestern United States for two native trout species of concern—Bull Trout and Cutthroat Trout.

  • Under both moderate and extreme climate change scenarios, refugia with high probabilities of trout population occupancy (>0.9) were predicted to exist for both species.

  • Most refugia are on public lands (>90%) where few currently have protected status in National Parks or Wilderness Areas (<15%).

  • Forecasts of refuge locations could enable protection of key watersheds, be used to rally support among multiple stakeholders, and provide a foundation for climate-smart planning to preserve native trout through the 21st century.

 

Featured Publications

Isaak, Daniel J. ; Young, Michael K. ; Nagel, David E. ; Horan, Dona ; Groce, Matthew C. , 2015
Isaak, Daniel J. ; Young, Michael K. ; Nagel, David E. ; Horan, Dona , 2014
Wenger, Seth J. ; Isaak, Daniel J. ; Luce, Charles H. ; Neville, Helen M. ; Fausch, Kurt D. ; Dunham, Jason B. ; Dauwalter, Daniel C. ; Young, Michael K. ; Elsner, Marketa M. ; Rieman, Bruce E. ; Hamlet, Alan F. ; Williams, Jack E. , 2011
Isaak, Daniel J. ; Luce, Charles H. ; Rieman, Bruce E. ; Nagel, David E. ; Peterson, Erin E. ; Horan, Dona ; Payne (Parkes) , Sharon L. ; Chandler, Gwynne L. , 2010


Forest Service Partners: 
Northern Region (1)
Intermountain Region (4)
Pacific Northwest Region (6)
External Partners: 
Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative
US Fish and Wildlife Service
US Geological Survey
NOAA Fisheries
Nez Perce Tribe
Research Location: 
Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Arizona