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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Understanding Conservation Management Decisions in the Face of Sea-Level Rise Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast

Project Leader:
Project Investigators:
Damian Shea (North Carolina State University (NCSU))
Rick Palmer (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
South Carolina


This project addresses a complex local scale conservation problem: managing the impacts associated with sea level rise and coastal flooding on migratory waterbirds and their habitat.  Decisions made by a conservation manager are complicated by three elements that can be expected to occur in almost any of these management situations.  Interactions among dynamic physical and biological processes affect both waterbirds and their habitat and food resources; these processes operate at local to flyway scales and are challenging to represent and analyze.  These natural physical and biological systems are coupled with human systems; decisions made by nearby landowners or jurisdictions can have an impact on conservation resources.  Finally, decisionmakers are still developing the experience and expertise to perceive, understand, and deal with the implications of the first two elements in making timely and effective decisions. The goal of this project is to develop a detailed description of the problems faced by conservations managers that will enable decision makers facing actual waterbird/habitat-related decisions to better understand their own decision making situation and improve their ability to propose investigations that address each of the three elements described above.

This project is jointly supported by the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center and the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.


Wood, Nate and Taj Schottland Improving climate-adaptation planning for coastal communities: local planning informed by regional hazard exposure analysis. NE CSC Webinar, February 2017.


  • Workshop Report: Maximizing the social and ecological value of Cape Romain National Wildlife.  2015.