Conservation in a Changing Climate
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Archived Updates

July 2015
May 2015
March 2015
January 2015
October 2014
September 2014
July 2014
May 2014

March 2014
January 2014


Tools and Resources

NCTC climate change resources: NCTC is consolidating climate change related training opportunities for FWS staff. The NCTC Climate Change Resource Library also provides selected citations to journal articles, documents, reports, and websites.

Updated digital maps are now available that show changes to Coastal Barrier Resource System in five states.

New Interactive Mapping Tool: The Service recently announced the completion of the National Wetlands Database and interactive mapping tool, that integrates digital map data with other resource information to produce timely and relevant management and decision support tools.

USGS National Climate Change Viewer (NCCV): This Viewer includes the historical and future climate projections from 30 downscaled models for two of the recent emission scenarios used by the IPCC.



Climate Change Update

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Climate Change Update newsletter allows our staff to share success stories, identify key resources, and stay up-to-date about our agency's climate change response.

The National Climate Team and scientists from across the Service are working together to develop this newsletter, and we welcome your input. Please contact Kate Freund to help provide content for future editions. You can explore past issues through the links at left.

September 2015 Issue

Climate Change in the News

Pope Francis calls for action on climate change

During his September visit to DC, the Pope praised the President's efforts on climate change and air pollution, and called climate change "a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation." Speaking to Congress, the Pope called for ''a courageous and responsible effort to 'redirect our steps' and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.''

President Obama highlights threats to the Arctic

During a September trip to Alaska the President called for additional action on climate change, declaring "We are not moving fast enough." The trip brought attention to threats to natural resources and communities, highlighting melting glaciers, threatened villages and other examples of how the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else.

  • The President announced investments to build resilience, lower energy costs, and provide data, maps and tools. This includes expanding the Climate Data Initiative (CDI) and Climate Resilience Toolkit (CRT), which features multiple Service and LCC efforts such as an interactive map of coastal change developed by the Western Alaska LCC and partners.
  • Staff and partners from the Aleutian and Bering Sea Islands LCC, Arctic LCC, North Pacific LCC, Northwest Boreal LCC and Western Alaska LCC teamed up to compile information to share with attendees of the GLACIER conference, associated with the President's visit.

Bird Distributions in a Changing Climate

Applying new models to FWS conservation planning

The National Audubon Society (NAS) has worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) over the last few years to make projections of future distributions of North American birds based on projected climate change. The project generated a large set of spatial data to characterize climate suitability for 614 individual species, which has now been made publicly available through ScienceBase.

The NAS has now proposed to further refine and apply these models to conservation planning through forming a new collaborative Climate and Birds Advisory Team (CBAT), with representatives from across the Service, Joint Ventures, and LCCs. The CBAT will work over the next year to identify opportunities for integrating projections into regional and local-scale conservation efforts.

Traditional Teachings - New Challenges

Inter-Tribal Youth Congress combats climate change

During the summer of 2015, 89 teenage Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian women and men from 28 communities from across the country gathered at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia for the first annual Inter-Tribal Youth Climate Leadership Congress. The event was a youth engagement partnership between the Service, BIA, NPS, USFS and USGS.

During the week-long Congress, participants learned how federal agencies are addressing climate change issues in Native American communities and how Native youth can support the resilience and adaptability of the their home areas in the face of climate challenges. The Native Youth Congress discussed climate science and traditional ecological knowledge and how changing climate is impacting traditional foods and ways of life across the country. Participants brainstormed how they will use their developing leadership skills and technical climate knowledge to address climate challenges back at their home reservations.

For more information contact Alejandro Morales.

A New Paradigm for Improving Conservation

Better understanding species' adaptive capacity

Species worldwide are already responding to ongoing climate change with shifts in distribution, abundance, phenology, or behavior, and there are related management questions involving how to deal with biodiversity loss, expansion of invasive species, and deterioration of ecosystem services. A new paper "Improving Conservation Outcomes with a New Paradigm for Understanding Species' Fundamental and Realized Adaptive Capacity" points out that natural resource managers' ability to address these changes and questions is hampered by understanding and consideration of species' adaptive capacity (AC) -- the ability of a species or population to cope with climatic changes.

This paper describes the components of adaptive capacity, and proposes a new conceptualization of fundamental and realized AC. It identifies contributing ecological attributes, outlines additional research needs, and provides examples demonstrating how the inclusion of AC information can better inform conservation and natural-resource management and policies. Five USFWS employees were among the co-authors of this paper. For more information, contact Nancy Green.

Visualizing Conservation in the Northeast

New tools provide a more comprehensive view

An important part of the North Atlantic LCC's (NALCC) work is developing scientific information and tools to help prioritize and guide more effective conservation actions in the North Atlantic Region.

Brook Trout Model and Assessment: In a recent effort, the NALCC funded development of a model and accompanying assessment for the Chesapeake Bay watershed that predicts brook trout occupancy, evaluates habitat quality, quantifies how human use and climate change are likely to impact both and identifies conservation priorities at multiple scales. With climate change posing increasing threats to habitat, it is increasingly important to preserve strongholds for these fish.

Terrestrial Habitat Viewer: Ecological processes don't stop at international borders, and neither will climate change. The Nature Conservancy's new Terrestrial Habitat Viewer, also funded by the NALCC, provides a full habitat picture of the North Atlantic U.S. to Atlantic Canada and southern Quebec based on field-collected data and national and provincial datasets. The interactive map provides a comprehensive picture of terrestrial ecological systems for the region.

For more information, contact Bridget Macdonald.

Landscape Conservation by Design

Integrating societal values and ecological integrity

To protect ecological systems in a changing climate, conservation activities at the landscape-scale must be coordinated across multiple jurisdictions and sectors. This is a fundamental shift from a traditional "stove-piped" approach to an innovative, integrated design approach that defines conservation's future.

Landscape conservation design (LCD) is a stakeholder-driven process that integrates societal values and interests with the best-available science to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services, and increase resilience and sustainability. LCD can be especially useful in addressing long-term stressors such as climate change. LCD requires the Service to think beyond traditional stakeholders and refuge boundaries. With the support of the LCCs, the Service is committed to integrating LCD into our conservation planning and activities.

Spotlight: Goodbye to Mark Shaffer

USFWS National Climate Change Policy Advisor retires

Mark Shaffer, who as served as the Service's National Climate Change Policy Advisor with Science Applications since 2010, retired this month. Mark led the interagency effort to develop and implement the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, working with federal, state and tribal partners to develop priority recommendations for managing living natural resources in a changing climate. He has also led Service efforts to establish agency climate change policies, working with the Department and the White House to step-down national initiatives. His leadership and expertise has helped make the Service a leader in climate change adaptation, and he will be missed.

New Resources and Announcements:

Upcoming Webinar:

Identifying Resilient Terrestrial Landscapes

As the climate changes, species are moving and shifting ranges. Hosted by the North Pacific, Great Northern and Great Basin LCCs, this webinar will feature Ken Popper and Steve Buttrick from The Nature Conservancy describing efforts to identify the most resilient landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.


NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently released the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, part of a proactive approach to increase the production, delivery and use of climate-related information to fulfill NOAA Fisheries' mission. For more information, contact Roger Griffis, NMFS Climate Change Coordinator.

Vulnerability Assessment Registry

A new online registry for climate change vulnerability assessments (called CRAVe) will help provide access to data and knowledge gathered by vulnerability assessments from around the nation. For information on entering FWS information, contact Kurt Johnson.

National Seed Strategy for Landscape Scale Restoration

Developed by DOI in partnership with the Plant Conservation Alliance and USDA, this Strategy outlines coordinated research as well as improvements in seed production and restoration technology to increase the availability of genetically appropriate, locally adapted seed as natural defenses against climate change.

How-To Guide for Actionable Science

Developed by the Federal Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science, this guide provides principles and practices for scientists and managers to work together to produce information useful for decisions, or co-production of actionable science.

Considering Traditional Knowledge in Climate Change Initiatives

Prepared by members of the Climate and Traditional Knowledges Work Group (CTKW), these guidelines provides both valuable perspective and helpful practice suggestions for those working with indigenous communities and people on climate change challenges.

New Sea-Level Rise Handbook

The Southeast Climate Science Center has developed a new handbook for non-scientists, that explains many of the contributing factors that account for sea-level change. It also highlights data, techniques and models used to document historical trends and to forecast future rates and the impact to coastal systems and communities.

Climate Information Links:

About this newsletter

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Climate Change Update newsletter allows our staff to share success stories, identify key resources, and stay up-to-date about our agency's climate change response.

Provide Content

The National Climate Team and scientists from across the Service are working together to develop this newsletter, and we welcome your input. Please contact Kate Freund to help provide content for future editions.  

Explore Past Issues 

Past issues of this newsletter are available on the Service's climate change webpage.

Get Additional Help

Do you know who to contact regarding climate change issues? The Service's National Climate Team helps to coordinate the agency's climate change response and serves as a technical resource regarding climate change science and policy. 


Last updated: October 14, 2015

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