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Climate change effects on wildlife habitat in the Rocky Mountain Region

December, 2014

Klamath National Forest
Climate change will affect wildlife directly through temperature and moisture changes and indirectly through habitat availability as vegetation types and ecosystem productivity changes. Recommendations to conserve wildlife resources under climate change will need to be integrated across administrative boundaries (e.g., States, public lands, National Forests and Grasslands). A regionally consistent information base facilitates collaboration necessary for managing wildlife species and their habitat. Our study focuses on the western United States, on an annual time frame, and at a 0.083 degree grid cell spatial scale. We use a single terrestrial climate stress index (TCSI) that quantifies the degree of change between recent history and projected futures in climate (temperature, precipitation), vegetation biomass, and vegetation type area. Projections of biomass and vegetation types are obtained from the dynamic global vegetation model MC2 – a model capable of assessing the impacts of climate change and disturbance (fire, drought) on ecosystems. To account for uncertainty, we consider different realizations of future climate and vegetation characteristics: three IPCC scenarios, three climate models, and two fire management scenarios. Identification of areas of relatively high and low habitat stress can provide managers and planners with information on the potential for climate-induced stress to wildlife habitats. Spatially explicit information on habitat stress attributed to climate change can be integrated with the location of current conservation issues to evaluate the coincidence of future climate change threats with important wildlife conservation issues.

Related projects

Analysis of Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Wildlife Habitat in the U.S.

Estimating carbon pools and fluxes using a DGVM with prescribed landuse: MC2 contribution to the LandCarbon project

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