Final Report: Examining the mechanisms of species responses to climate change: Are there biological thresholds?
Climate change is affecting species and ecosystems across the Northeast and Midwest U.S. Natural resource managers looking to maintain ecological function and species persistence have requested information to improve resource management in the face of climate change. Leveraging the research that has already been supported by the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center and its partners, this project used the latest modeling techniques combined with robust field data to examine the impact of specific climate variables, land use change, and species interactions on the future distribution and abundance of species of conservation concern. An interdisciplinary team worked to understand the mechanisms that are driving these changes. Focal species included songbirds, boreal mammals, trees and southern pine beetles. This project documented biological threshold responses related to climate change for species of conservation concern in the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. Specifically, we found that thresholds, driven by climate change, are ubiquitous and, as detailed here, can affect the distribution and growth of populations of these species. We also found that these effects can inform our assessments of risk for these species as well as our management decisions. Major outcomes of this project included meetings with state and federal managers, public webinars, peer-reviewed publications, and species-specific fact sheets.