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Projecting the Distribution of Aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need Throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region


Climate and land use change are affecting many aquatic species throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The objective of this project is to understand and plan for the changes in distribution of aquatic species considered “Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (RSGCN) in the mid-Atlantic region. 

Working with state and federal partners, this project will identify high priority species for conservation and obtain data on their known distributions. Researchers will model current and future spatial distributions of these high priority species by using known location records and associated climate, environmental, and land-use data. Comparing future predictions of species distributions to probable future scenarios (i.e., urbanization and energy development scenarios) can help researchers identify species that may require more (or less) conservation attention over time.  

Outputs from this project will include maps of current and projected future species distributions, along with a web-based tool for managers to view the projected distributions of user-specified species at specific time intervals, climate change and land-use scenarios, and geographic extents. These resulting products can be integrated into long-term conservation decision-making and planning to (a) facilitate RSGCN and state-specific SGCN distributional shifts, (b) minimize threats to SGCN, (c) identify areas where conservation is most needed and most likely to be successful, and (d) reduce uncertainty through location-specific focused monitoring and revision.