USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center Project: Impacts to FWS Refuges Linked to Habitat Adaptations to Climate Change: Integrated Field and Laboratory Studies Contributing to Informed Adaptive Management Plans

Statement of Problem: Climate change will inevitably require that resource managers develop adaptive management plans responsive to habitat alterations that might directly or indirectly affect species of concern or habitats critical to supporting these species of concern. The project will focus on FWS refuges and DOI lands in the Great Lakes area of the Upper Mississippi River and the Missouri River of the Central and Northern Great Planes. Given the global character of climate change, these regional landscapes will inevitably be affected by habitat alterations linked to these global changes, yet beyond these larger landscape observations, FWS refuges will require more finely tuned analyses focused on smaller-scale regional perspectives. For example, development of regional risk assessment technologies have increasingly been identified as high priority needs in crafting adaptive management plans focused on habitat changes linked to climate changes. Invasions of exotic species and shifts in populations of native species will be unavoidable, given the changing spatiotemporal conditions that will influence abiotic and biotic components of habitats throughout FWS refuge system. Within the range of systems at-risk, shifts in native species┬┐ distributions may occur at a pace that allows adaptation to occur in a similar manner, the number of exotic species that benefit from climate change and the potential economic impact of species invasions will require resource managers to focus on species that are likely to become invasive for their managed lands. Many of the risk assessment approaches for invasive species focused solely on landscape mapping on continental-scale processes which are often not the most relevant scale for individual resource managers of DOI lands. There exists a need for more localized risk assessments that focus on species more imminently invasive to a particular FWS refuge. These local-scale risk assessments, however, must be completed in the undercurrent of larger-scale changes linked to global climate change. Furthermore, these local-scale and global-scale interrelationships potentially complicate local and regional management activities being developed to offset risks associated with species invasions. Although global changes are beyond direct control of local concerns of DOI land managers, climate change, as an underlying process, influences outcomes of species dispersal and invasion, and directly bear on resource management actions. Predicated on the inevitable habitat alterations linked to adaptations to climate change, there exists a need for more localized risk assessments that focus on species more imminently invasive to a particular refuge.

Objectives: Research activities center on integrated field and laboratory studies required to address resource management needs related to: Developing invasive species monitoring and surveillance strategies that must be anticipated given the inevitable habitat alternations linked to climate change in the Great Lakes area of the upper Midwest, and Central and Northern Great Plains, Incorporating restoration techniques as necessary components of early detection and rapid response activities currently in place in resource management plans targeted on invasive species, and Developing adaptive management plans in which integrated assessment and monitoring activities focused on invasive species were fully incorporated into future resource management plans.
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