Project

This project is using a combination of long-term data records and recently established large-scale adaptive management studies in managed forests across the Lake States, New England, Intermountain West, and Black Hills to identify forest management strategies and forest conditions that confer the greatest levels of resistance and resilience to past and emerging stressors and their relevance in addressing future global change.  This work represents a broad partnership between scientists from the USFS Northern Research Station, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, USGS, University of MN,  University of Maine, and Dartmouth College in an effort to capitalize on over 50 years of data collection on USFS Experimental Forests and Forest Inventory and Analysis plot to evaluate forest adaptation strategies

Project

This project aimed to quantify the range in variability in forest dynamics and climate responses for range-margin populations of Pinus banksiana and Picea mariana so as to generate management guidelines for conserving these forests on the landscape in an uncertain climatic future.  These species are the cornerstone for several upland and lowland habitat types on the western edge of the Northeast CSC and are particularly vulnerable to future changes in climate and disturbance regimes.  This project took advantage of extensive dendrochronological and forest community data to determine the drivers and future dynamics of key demographic processes for these tree species

Project

Forests in the Eastern United States are in the early- and mid-successional stages recovering from historical land use. Succession, harvest, and climate are potentially important factors affecting forest composition and structure in the region. The goal of this project was to predict the distribution and abundance of dominant tree species across portions of the Eastern U.S. under alternative climate scenarios from present to the end of the century. We used the forest landscape change LANDIS PRO and hybrid empirical-physiological ecosystem model LINKAGES to model changes in forest biomass and species abundances and distribution in the North Atlantic region of the U.S. while accounting for climate change, succession, and harvest. Three climate scenarios were considered, defined by a general circulation model and emission scenario: PCM B1, CGCM A2, and GFDL A1FI

Project

Climate change poses a variety of threats to biodiversity. Most efforts to assess the likely impacts of climate change on biodiversity try to rank species based on their vulnerability under changed environmental conditions. These efforts have generally not considered the ability of organisms to adjust their phenotype to the changing environment. Organisms can do this one of two ways. First, they can adjust their phenotype via non-evolutionary pathways. Second, they can undergo adaptive evolutionary change. We used two interconnected approaches to evaluate thermal adaptation capacity in a cold-water fish species. 1) Using tagging data, we estimated thermal performance curves for wild fish. The curves indicate how fish body growth will respond to changing temperatures. 2) Using genomic approaches, we developed a unified single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel for use across the species’ range to examine adaptive capacity

Project

Small dams and impoundments are ubiquitous in stream networks in the northeastern and north central US.  Concerns about their effects on stream fish population connectivity and their risks to human infrastructure and safety have prompted efforts to remove many of these dams.  Dams also have  potentially significant impacts on stream thermal regimes, and as a consequence their removal may either ameliorate or exacerbate effects of increasing air temperatures.  Also, given their ubiquity, temperature modeling and monitoring efforts need to account for the effects of small impoundments for assessment and prediction. From the results of the first two seasons of field work, it appears that the direct effects of impoundments may persist considerable distances downstream and that these effects are flow-dependent

Project

Coldwater stream fishes are widely predicted to move upstream in response to warming downstream river temperatures.  However, in the process they may encounter upstream limits, which are likely to be exacerbated by increased hydrologic variability if upstream locations draining small basins switch from perennial to ephemeral flow, with important but currently unknown implications for coldwater habitat and stream fish populations.  In this project, we will look at the current determinants of upstream limitation for Eastern Brook Trout in several (8-10 large watersheds) throughout their native range, and use hydrologic models and GIS analysis to predict future upstream limits and consequent habitat distributions under climate change scenarios. We have identified key climate-associated drivers of brook trout occupancy, abundance and population dynamics

Project

This project developed a predictive model for estimating fire frequency based on theories and data in physical chemistry, ecosystem ecology, and climatology.  We applied this model to produce maps of fire frequency under current climate and several climate warming scenarios across the United States.  Results of the project provide information on fire frequency under alternative climate scenarios, information needed to parameterize forest landscape change models. This work provides baseline parameters needed for modeling landscape change under alternative climate scenarios, and the immediate use will be by researchers at the University of Missouri. Ultimately this will lead to tools that will be used by a wide range of stakeholders concerned with management of forests for climate adaptation

Project

Spruce-fir forests reach their southern limit in New England and the Upper Midwest, and are predicted by coarse climate envelope models to be greatly reduced or extirpated by climate change in the next century.  However, complex climatology, involving orographic effects and consequent changes in temperature and precip, along with substantial spatial variability, make it imperative that we understand where the most resilient stands are likely to be, and what the effects of these changes mean for spruce-fir associated species.  In this project, we took advantage of long-term surveys at multiple locations across the region to relate wildlife dynamics (elevation distribution and reproductive success, population trends) to interannual variation and long-term change in climate, with the ultimate objective of coupling these relationships to climate models

Project

Our goal was to develop a framework to identify demographic sensitivities and assess the vulnerability of grassland bird species to future climate change. To do so, we developed a strong partnership among managers and researchers to understand how climate change might impact the conservation and management planning of grassland birds throughout the NE CASC region and identify potentially vulnerable species. Using input from managers, we focused our efforts on two grassland indicator species of high conservation interest: Henslow’s Sparrows and Bobolinks. We developed spatially-explicit and temporally dynamic species distribution models for these indicator species and evaluated the effects of past and future climate on their populations. Finally, we studied how weather and extreme events (e.g., drought and flooding) effects the breeding success of grassland birds across North America

Project

There is growing evidence that headwater stream ecosystems are especially vulnerable to changing climate and land use, but their conservation is challenged by the need to address the threats at a landscape scale, often through coordination with multiple management agencies and landowners. This project sought to provide an example of cooperative landscape decision-making by addressing the conservation of headwater stream ecosystems in the face of climate change at the watershed scale. Predictive models were built for critical resources to examine the effects of the potential alternative actions on the objectives, taking account of climate effects and examining whether there were key uncertainties that impede decision making.  Results provide decision analyses that are (1) relevant to the management partners in question; (2) emblematic of landscape-scale cooperative decisions; and (3) sensitive to the practical consequences of climate change

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