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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Integrating climate change into the state wildlife action plans

Project Leader:
Project Investigators:
Toni Lyn Morelli and Laura Hilberg, NE CASC Consortium Scientists and Fellows
SWAP Coordinators
Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Terwilliger Consulting
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS)
The Nature Conservancy
Wildlife Conservation Society


Fish and Wildlife agencies across the United States are currently revising their State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs). These documents are important planning documents over 10 year timescales.  SWAP Coordinators have been challenged to incorporate climate change impacts and species responses as part of their strategic approaches to managing vulnerable fish and wildlife resources. The Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center is assisting Northeast and Midwestern States meet this charge by developing a regional synthesis document that provides: 1) Regional and state-specific climate change projections for approximately twenty climate variables (e.g., air temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, sea level rise). 2) A regional overview of existing climate change vulnerability assessments and our current knowledge of regional species and habitats at greatest risk to climate impacts. 3) A summary of our current knowledge of biological responses to climate impacts with a focus on Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN).  4) A compilation of the range of scale-appropriate adaptation strategies and actions available to natural resource agencies to conserve wildlife and resilient ecosystems over the short and long term.

It is anticipated that SWAP authors can use this synthesis document to guide their writing activities related to climate change. This project is being accomplished with input from SWAP Coordinators, Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and in collaboration with a range of partners including Terwilliger Consulting, the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS), and The Nature Conservancy.

This cooperative agency report underwent a formal USGS peer review process following Fundamental Science Practices requirements.

The entire report is available for download here:

Executive Summary and Chapter Highlights is available for download here:

Individual chapters are available for download here:


Northeast Climate Science Center, December 2015, "Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool", S. Jackson, J. O'Leary, M. Staudinger.
Northeast Climate Science Center, October 2015, "Integrating Climate Change into the State Wildlife Action Plans", M. Staudinger, T. L. Morelli, A. Bryan.