We demonstrate a generalizable approach for assessing climate change effects on tribally important ecosystem goods and services. Indigenous peoples may be highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because they rely on ecosystem goods and services, such as traditional foods, hunting, timber production, nontimber forest resources, and cultural resources. However, there are few assessments that have examined the potential impact of climate change on these goods and services and even less that examine ecological, socio-economic, and cultural resources in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Our approach uses four basic steps: (1) identify 78 tribally important ecosystem services (species and resources), (2) relate those ecosystem services with biologically relevant vegetation projections from a dynamic global vegetation model, (3) identify appropriate timeframes and future climate scenarios, and (4) assess future changes for vegetation types and ecosystem services. We then highlight how model uncertainty can be explored to better inform resilience building and adaptation planning. We found that more than half of the species and resources analyzed may be vulnerable to climate change due to loss of potential habitat, including aridland species and grazing quality. We further highlight our findings for tribally important species, huckleberries (genus Vaccinium) and bitterbrush (Purshia tridentate (Pursh) DC.), and show how this information can be applied to help inform resource management and adaptation planning. We have demonstrated a generalizable approach that identified tribally important ecosystem services and related them with biologically relevant vegetation projections from a Dynamic Global Vegetation Model. Although our assessment is focused in the Pacific Northwest, our approach can be applied in other regions for which model data is available. We recognize that there is some inherent uncertainty associated with using model output for future scenario planning; however, if that uncertainty is addressed and applied as demonstrated by our approach, it then can be explored to help inform resource management and adaptation planning.
Pacific martens (Martes caurina) remain common in montane regions of the Pacific states, yet their distribution and status on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, is uncertain. Between 1968–2008, six reliable marten detections exist; a dead juvenile female (2008) indicates martens were reproducing on the Peninsula within the last decade. To assess the status of martens, we describe carnivore surveys conducted from 1991–2008 (n = 223 stations). Additionally, we present results from three survey efforts we conducted from 2013–2016 (n = 747 stations). Although a suite of carnivore species was detected, surveys from 1991–2008 failed to detect either martens or fishers. Surveys from 2013–2016 detected reintroduced fishers, and resulted in two marten detections near Mt. Olympus, 4 km apart. A marten was photographed opportunistically near Mt. Cruiser in 2015, 44 km from Mt. Olympus. Altogether, nine reliable detections of Pacific martens were obtained between 1968 and 2016, including three since 2008. Evidence suggests martens are absent from the lower elevation regions they once occupied and occur at exceedingly low densities at higher elevations. To understand the trend in marten populations on the Peninsula and develop appropriate conservation strategies, additional broad- and fine-scale surveys using detection devices that enable the genetic identification of individuals will be needed.
Natural areas are tracts of land with little or no evidence of past human influence and designated for research, education, and conservation. Many sites were selected to represent high-quality examples of both common and rare plant association groups. However, the extent to which natural areas characterize regional environmental conditions or gradients important for measuring and understanding the effects of climate change has not been examined. We compared the current collection of natural areas in Oregon and Washington to the broader natural ecosystems found in the region using four ecological parameters derived from existing datasets: forest structure, dominant tree species, vegetation formation classes, and elevation. We evaluated these data sets at both the regional and ecosystem scales and looked at the influence of land ownership in representing these parameters. Our results suggest that the Pacific Northwest natural areas network is well representative of all four parameters at the regional level. There were some gaps in representation at the ecoregion scale and across some land ownerships. Results from this study further support using natural areas for monitoring long-term climate change effects in the Pacific Northwest.
In conservation paradigms, management actions for umbrella species also benefit co‐occurring species because of overlapping ranges and similar habitat associations. The greater sage‐grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is an umbrella species because it occurs across vast sagebrush ecosystems of western North America and is the recipient of extensive habitat conservation and restoration efforts that might benefit sympatric species. Biologists' understanding of how non‐target species might benefit from sage‐grouse conservation is, however, limited. Reptiles, in particular, are of interest in this regard because of their relatively high diversity in shrublands and grasslands where sage‐grouse are found. Using spatial overlap of species distributions, land cover similarity statistics, and a literature review, we quantified which reptile species may benefit from the protection of intact sage‐grouse habitat and which may be affected by recent (since about 1990) habitat restoration actions targeting sage‐grouse. Of 190 reptile species in the United States and Canadian provinces where greater sage‐grouse occur, 70 (37%) occur within the range of the bird. Of these 70 species, about a third (11 snake and 11 lizard species) have >10% of their distribution area within the sage‐grouse range. Land cover similarity indices revealed that 14 of the 22 species (8 snake and 6 lizard species) had relatively similar land cover associations to those of sage‐grouse, suggesting greater potential to be protected under the sage‐grouse conservation umbrella and greater potential to be affected, either positively or negatively, by habitat management actions intended for sage‐grouse. Conversely, the remaining 8 species are less likely to be protected because of less overlap with sage‐grouse habitat and thus uncertain effects of sage‐grouse habitat management actions. Our analyses of treatment databases indicated that from 1990 to 2014 there were at least 6,400 treatments implemented on public land that covered approximately 4 million ha within the range of the sage‐grouse and, of that, >1.5 million ha were intended to at least partially benefit sage‐grouse. Whereas our results suggest that conservation of intact sagebrush vegetation communities could benefit ≥14 reptiles, a greater number than previously estimated, additional research on each species' response to habitat restoration actions is needed to assess broader claims of multitaxa benefits when it comes to manipulative sage‐grouse habitat management. Published 2020. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
Novel outbreaks of emerging pathogens require rapid responses to enable successful mitigation. We simulated a 1-day emergency meeting where experts were engaged to recommend mitigation strategies for a new outbreak of the amphibian fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans. Despite the inevitable uncertainty, experts suggested and discussed several possible strategies. However, their recommendations were undermined by imperfect initial definitions of the objectives and scope of management. This problem is likely to arise in most real-world emergency situations. The exercise thus highlighted the importance of clearly defining the context, objectives, and spatial–temporal scale of mitigation decisions. Managers are commonly under pressure to act immediately. However, an iterative process in which experts and managers cooperate to clarify objectives and uncertainties, while collecting more information and devising mitigation strategies, may be slightly more time consuming but ultimately lead to better outcomes.
Exposure of nontarget wildlife to anticoagulant rodenticides (AR) is a global conservation concern typically centered around urban or agricultural areas. Recently, however, the illegal use of ARs in remote forests of California, USA, has exposed sensitive predators, including the federally threatened northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). We used congeneric barred owls (S. varia) as a sentinel species to investigate whether ARs pose a threat to spotted owls and other old-forest wildlife in northern regions of the Pacific Northwest. We analyzed the liver tissue from 40 barred owls collected in Oregon and Washington and confirmed exposure to ≥1 AR compounds in 48% of the owls examined. Brodifacoum, an extremely toxic second-generation AR, was the most common compound detected (89% of positive cases), followed by bromadiolone (11%), difethialone (11%), and warfarin (5%). Brodifacoum was also detected in one barred owl and one spotted owl opportunistically found dead (liver concentrations were 0.091 and 0.049 μg/g, respectively). We found no evidence that exposure varied with proximity to developed and agricultural areas, or among different study areas, age-classes, and sexes. Rather, exposure was ubiquitous, and the rates we observed in our study (38–64%) were similar to or greater than that reported previously for barred owls in California (40%). Together these studies indicate widespread contamination in forested landscapes used by spotted owls and other wildlife of conservation concern. Owls collected in older forests may have been exposed via illegal use of ARs, highlighting a mounting challenge for land managers and policy makers.
Old forests are often patchily distributed in contemporary forested landscapes leading to conservation concerns for species dependent on these forest types. In the absence of broad-scale recovery of old forests, conservation initiatives have emphasized connecting forested landscapes to facilitate movement of genes or individuals. We assessed forest connectivity for a low-vagile arboreal rodent (red tree vole; Arborimus longicaudus), an obligate of old forests within a distinct population segment that is a candidate for listing under the US Endangered Species Act in the northern Oregon Coast Range (USA). Within the distinct population segment, old forests (>80 years old) have contracted by >80% in the previous century, comprise 10.9% of the contemporary landscape and reside in a matrix of young forests (20–80 years old). We combined complimentary graph and circuit theory metrics into spatial conservation prioritization to provide insights into the composition and function of the contemporary forested landscape and to identify potential conservation and research priorities for this area. Given average distances from patches of old forests (3.4 km), we predicted that connectivity can only be achieved if red tree voles move and settle iteratively through young forest matrix, which is suboptimal habitat. We found that the top 1% conservation priorities were a series of small, spatially central patches and several large patches located where old forest cover was most extensive. Most of these patches were in protected reserves. Up to 30% of the top 10% prioritization were forests outside of reserves, highlighting the potential for these forests to contribute to landscape connectivity for this low-vagile species that is dependent on old forest.
Reviewing: William J. Matthews and Edie Marsh-Matthews, Stream Fish Community Dynamics: A Critical Synthesis, 2017 Johns Hopkins University Press, 330 pp.
Community dynamics are often difficult relationships to describe because they encompass multiple taxa involved in numerous types of interactions of varying strengths, all of which may shift over space and time. Gaining insights from a suite of several long-term projects is difficult logistically and can be difficult to sustain. However, in their book Stream Fish Community Dynamics: A Critical Synthesis, Matthews and Marsh-Matthews offer a deeper understanding of warm-water fish community dynamics from a commitment to their research over their shared lifetimes.
The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) has guided the management of 17 federal forests in the US Pacific Northwest for the past 25 years. The existing management plans for these national forests – which were amended by the NWFP – are now being evaluated for revision under the US Forest Service’s 2012 planning rule. To help inform federal land managers, we reviewed the scientific literature published since the inception of the NWFP and report several key findings: (1) conservation of at-risk species within national forests is challenging in the face of threats that are beyond the control of federal managers, (2) management efforts to promote resilience to wildfire and climate change include restoring dynamics and structure at multiple scales and revisiting reserve design, (3) forest restoration can have an ecological and socioeconomic win–win outcome, (4) human communities benefit from many ecosystem services beyond the supply of timber, (5) collaboration among multiple stakeholders is essential for achieving ecological and socioeconomic goals, and (6) monitoring and adaptive management are crucial to learning about and addressing uncertainty.