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Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 | 10:30 am
Scott Jackson, UMass Amherst; John O'Leary, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries…

The Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool is designed to inform and inspire local action to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources in a changing climate. This Tool focuses on providing information for a range of local decision-makers, including conservation practitioners, landowners, municipal agencies, and community leaders, seeking to conduct on-the-ground climate change adaptation efforts. With this tool, users can: 1) access information on climate change impacts and vulnerabilities of fish and wildlife species and associated habitats; 2) explore adaptation strategies and actions to help maintain healthy, resilient natural communities based on location and area of interest; and find additional resources to help guide decision-making and actions. Initial development of the tool is focused on fish and wildlife species, forests and forestry practices, aquatic and terrestrial connectivity (with a focus on roads and culverts), land protection, and conservation planning. Although this tool was designed for decision-making in the state of Massachusetts, it provides broadly relevant climate and adaptation information, and can serve as a model for related efforts across the entire Northeast region. This tool has been developed by a diverse team of experts from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the Department of Interior’s Northeast Climate Science Center, and the USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.


John O'Leary received his M.S. in Fisheries Biology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He also worked for Massachusetts Cooperative Fisheries Research Unit as Anadromous Fish Restoration Project leader (1979-1989) before becoming a District Fisheries Manager for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) in 1990. John has also held positions as the Statewide Anadromous Fish Restoration Project leader from 1990-1999, Watershed Team Leader 1999-2003, State Wildlife Plan Coordinator 2003-2013. He is currently the Assistant Director of Wildlife for MDFW. John has  served as co-chair of Vulnerability Assessment Sub-Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Climate Change Committee, was the State Co-Chair of the Forest Section of the National, Fish, Wildlife and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy, Chair of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Climate Change Working Group and represented the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies on the Federal Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science.

Scott Jackson is Extension Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has taught courses and workshops on wetlands ecology, biodiversity conservation, and amphibians and reptiles. He has been involved in the use of underpass systems to facilitate wildlife movement across roads and development of methods for evaluating the effectiveness of animal passage structures. Scott has worked on the development of standards for road-stream crossing structures, survey protocols for assessing crossing structures, and approaches for prioritizing structures for replacement taking storm resiliency and aquatic connectivity into account. Significant integrated projects include the Massachusetts Climate Adaptation Partnership and Wildlife Climate Action Tool, the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative, the Massachusetts River and Stream Continuity Project, Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS), and the MA Wetlands Assessment and Monitoring Program. Scott is a member of the Whately Conservation Commission and serves on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC).

Michelle Staudinger received her PhD in 2010 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has held subsequent positions at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. Currently, she serves as the Science Coordinator of the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center and is an Ecologist with UGSS; she also holds an Adjunct Faculty position in the Department of Environmental Conservation at UMass Amherst.  Michelle's research addresses a broad range of questions related to the ecology and conservation of natural resources, including trophic interactions in marine communities, climate change impacts on biodiversity, and the use of vulnerability assessments as tools for climate change adaptation.