Conservation in a Changing Climate
Office of External Affairs


Archived Updates

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

Launched in January 2014, 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.

Latest Issue: January 2015

The President's Climate Action Plan

New tools and recommendations announced

A great deal of progress has been made since the 2013 release of the President's Climate Action Plan. Particularly relevant to the Service:

  • October 2014 -- the President's Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience released its Priority Agenda, including recommendations for the completion of landscape conservation designs by the LCCs in a handful of flagship regions.
  • October 2014 -- all federal agencies released Climate Change Adaptation Plans, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change impacts. The DOI 2014 Climate Change Action Plan highlights work of the Service.
  • November 2014 -- the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience released recommendations for how the federal government can assist communities dealing with impacts of climate change.
  • New Online Tools -- The Administration recently announced new tools to help communities contend with climate impacts through the web-based Climate Resilience Toolkit, and made new ecosystems and water resources data available through

Service Protects Red Knot

Species listed as threatened, citing climate change

In December 2014, the Serviceannounced federal protection for the rufa subspecies of the red knot, designating it as a threatened species under the ESA, in part due to threats from climate change impacts. The shorebird's population has been declining, and although steps have been taken to address the reduction in horseshoe crab eggs that are a key food resource during spring migration, other impacts are increasing. 

Sea-level rise and coastal development continue to shrink wintering and important migratory habitat. Changing climate conditions are also altering the bird's breeding habitat in the Arctic and affecting its food supply across its range, and in particular there is a threat of climate-driven mismatches in availability of food resources at crucial periods in the life cycle of the species.

Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

How one field office tracked and reduced emissions

The Columbia River Fisheries Program Office (CRFPO) convened a Carbon Footprint Team to quantify, track, and make recommendations toward reducing the office's carbon emissions. The group worked to collect information, conduct an energy audit, use a calculator to quantify the office carbon footprint, and develop recommendations to reduce emissions.

Their Carbon Footprint Report recommendations included opportunities to reduce commuting, changes to the office vehicle fleet, and reducing electricity usage. In 2015, CRFPO is investigating opportunities to partner with Service programs or other external partners to fund habitat restoration or similar activities to begin offsetting their carbon footprint. 

This approach provides a great example for how field offices can easily quantify and track their carbon footprint, and how they can help the Service meet our goal of carbon neutrality by 2020. Contact Mike Hudson for more information.

Climate Adaptation Network Up and Running

Service-wide network will advise leadership

In response to DOI policy, the Service recently established a new Climate Adaptation Network to help the agency respond to the many challenges climate change presents to our mission and our programs.

The Network is responsible for advising the Directorate on the major needs and priorities to enable our staff and programs to deal with climate change impacts to trust resources.

Chaired by the AD for Science Applications Paul Souza, the Network is currently meeting monthly and plans to have an initial set of recommendations on climate change priorities by August. Contact Mark Shaffer for more information.

Service Climate Change Research Highlights:

Climate Change in the Prairie Potholes

Service research challenges assumptions about drying

The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is the most important waterfowl production area in North America, but waterfowl populations there are predicted to decline because of climate-related drying of wetlands. In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, researchers used long-term data on waterfowl habitat conditions collected by USFWS pilot-biologists to examine trends in pond numbers.

Contrary to some published predictions, data were consistent with an increase in wetness rather than drying, and results suggest that the direct effects of climate change on prairie pothole wetlands and waterfowl may be overshadowed by indirect effects such as intensified land use and increased pressure to drain wetlands. These results emphasize the need for habitat conservation in the region and annual surveys to understand wetland trends and dynamics. Contact Neal Niemuth or Kathy Fleming for more information.

Snapshots of a changing climate

New tool gives scientists access to data from museum records

The Service is responsible for over 4 million museum items that range from historic photographs to mounted biological specimens, including remains of birds, deer, whale, pig and a host of other terrestrial and aquatic species. These kinds of materials can provide a snapshot of the environmental and climate conditions at the time they became part of the archaeological record.

In August 2014, the Natural Resource Center office of Inventory and Monitoring funded a study to examine how these collections might be used to examine climate change. The study collated information from every Region into an annotated bibliography that will allow scientists to easily access this new data set. This new tool highlights that museum collections can be a useful resource for many scientific questions facing our agency. For more information please contact Eugene Marino, USFWS Archaeologist.

Polar Bear Populations Continue to Decline

New studies highlight climate threats

In a recent study published November 2014, scientists found polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea experienced a sharp population decline during the first decade (2001-2010) of the 21st century. Led by USGS and USFWS researchers, the study found that low survival from 2004 through 2006 led to a 25-50% decline in abundance. The authors hypothesize that low survival during this period resulted from unfavorable ice conditions that limited access to prey during multiple seasons, and possibly low prey abundance. For reasons that are not clear, abundance became comparatively stable from 2008 to 2010. However, subadult survival declined throughout the entire 10-year study period, suggesting that conditions remained unfavorable for young bears.

In another new study published January 2015, scientists from around the Arctic show that the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears group into four genetically-similar clusters, corresponding to ecological and oceanographic factors. Researchers found that polar bears are moving towards areas with more persistent year-round sea ice.

New Opportunities:

Upcoming Conference

National Adaptation Forum, St. Louis, MO, May 12-14 - The National Adaptation Forum is intended to contribute to the development of a community of practice around climate change adaptation, and create a venue for practitioners to share information and tools for incorporating climate change into their work. 

Service nominations to attend are due Feb 27 (see DTS #CON0000267) or contact Megan Cook.

Open for Comments

NOAA Climate Science Strategy
The recently released NOAA Fisheries draft Climate Science Strategy (NCSS) is designed to increase the production, delivery, and use of climate-related information to marine and coastal resource managers users. 

Submit your input and comments by March 31

Please copy Mark Shaffer on your response.

New Journal Access

E&E Climate Wire

The Service now enjoys agency-wide access E&E Climate Wire and other publications, including EnergyWire, E&E Daily, and Greenwire.

Sign up for subscriber access and alerts here

Upcoming Webinar

The Conservation Community's Response to Hurricane Sandy: Helping Communities and Habitats Achieve Resiliency

When: February 11, 2015 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM EST

Register here

About this newsletter

It's been a great first year! Launched in January 2014, 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.




Last updated: February 3, 2015

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