finding 7.4 : key-message-7-4

Traditional natural resource management strategies are increasingly challenged by the impacts of climate change (high confidence). Adaptation strategies that are flexible, consider interacting impacts of climate and other stressors, and are coordinated across landscape scales are progressing from theory to application. Significant challenges remain to comprehensively incorporate climate adaptation planning into mainstream natural resource management, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented actions (high confidence).



This finding is from chapter 7 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

Topics for the chapter were selected to improve the consistency of coverage of the report and to standardize the assessment process for ecosystems and biodiversity. Chapter leads went through the detailed technical input for the Third National Climate Assessment and pulled out key issues that they felt should be updated in the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The chapter leads then came up with an author team with expertise in these selected topics. To ensure that both terrestrial and marine issues were adequately covered, most sections have at least one author with expertise in terrestrial ecosystems and one with expertise in marine ecosystems.

Monthly author calls were held beginning in December 2016, with frequency increasing to every other week as the initial chapter draft deadline approached. During these calls, the team came up with a work plan and fleshed out the scope and content of the chapter. After the outline for the chapter was created, authors reviewed the scientific literature, as well as the technical input that was submitted through the public call. After writing the State of the Sector section, authors pulled out the main findings to craft the Key Messages.

Description of evidence base:

Climate change is increasingly being recognized as a threat to biodiversity and ecosystems. For example, a recently developed threat classification system for biodiversity49aa5b13-50c3-4212-b964-de5fc77d00df has been adopted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which stands in contrast to previous frameworks that did not include climate change as a threat.30466af4-916e-49c7-ad6c-86494541a17f Moving away from traditional management strategies that aim to retain existing species and ecosystems and implementing climate-smart management approaches are likely to be the most effective way to conserve species, ecosystems, and ecosystem services in the future.14abc4e6-e419-4686-880f-cd2f3e28e11c

Ecosystem-based management strategies, where decisions are made at the ecosystem level,d9702d65-fced-4531-85ff-3009aec0c6cb and programs that consider climate change impacts along with other human-caused stressors are becoming more established and seek to optimize benefits among diverse societal goals.22ac15b9-740c-4180-8262-ba830f22a050 A number of regional to national networks have been implemented, including the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Climate Adaptation Science Centersbbf30f16-931f-4669-8da6-58096cd94679 and the NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Programs,e01214c9-2895-465f-80fe-cfe4d771057a that bring together multiple stakeholders to develop approaches for dealing with climate change. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) were established by DOI Secretarial Order 3289 in 2009 to provide transboundary support and science capacity for adaptive resource management. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is no longer providing dedicated staff and funding to support the governance and operations of the 22 LCCs, consistent with its FY2018 and FY2019 budget requests. The Service will continue to support cooperative landscape conservation efforts as an equal partner, working with states and other partners on priority conservation and management issues. Federal and state agencies with responsibilities for natural resources have begun to implement proactive and climate-smart management approaches. Recent examples (within the last 10 years) include the development of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Climate Science Strategy372d0974-9c5c-4501-be26-0a787ba59ec3,d9702d65-fced-4531-85ff-3009aec0c6cb and its commitment to ecosystem-based fisheries management;beb5ea4d-8364-455f-b430-f6ca5800f29c the National Park Service’s Climate Change Response Program;cb48f4f5-6a7f-4073-b3aa-43ab8a5455c9 the Forest Adaptation Planning and Practices collaborative, led by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science;43bdc661-13e7-4300-8137-5ff08e767837 the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy;c3b02b08-e555-4a41-8a73-8b04dc89ee6b the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy,f63aaa72-33a8-4fa6-ad8a-01bc24690c0d initiated by states of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the federal Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group, the Southeast and Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership; and a range of individual state plans.22ac15b9-740c-4180-8262-ba830f22a050 These newly formed collaborative programs better account for the various climate impacts on, and interactions between, ecosystem components, while optimizing benefits among diverse societal goals.

In addition, federal agencies are developing policies and approaches that consider ecosystem services and related climate impacts within existing planning and decision frameworks.65b928dc-e404-4d88-b0ff-15618c3c784a For example, NOAA’s Fisheries Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Policy specifically considers climate change and ecosystem services. By framing management strategies and actions within an ecosystem services context, communication about the range of benefits derived from biodiversity and natural ecosystems can be improved, and managers, policymakers, and the public can better envision decisions that support climate adaptation. Restoration efforts can also help conserve important ecosystem services (Ch. 21: Midwest, Figure 21.7).

An example of an effective, collaborative effort to manage climate impacts took place in Puerto Rico during a recent drought. In order to better manage the impacts of the drought on the environment, people, and water resources, Puerto Rico developed a special task force composed of government officials, federal partners, and members of academia to evaluate the progression, trends, and effects of drought in the territory. Weekly reports from the task force provided recommended actions for government officials and updated the public about the drought (Ch. 20: U.S. Caribbean, Box 20.3).

Changes in Individual characteristics: Maintaining habitat connectivity is important to ensure gene flow among populations and maintain genetic diversity, which provides the platform for evolutionary change. Additionally, assisted migration can be used to increase genetic diversity for less mobile species, which is important to facilitate evolutionary changes.dcbe9b79-4d34-4564-8bff-a1679897d9f3

Changes in range: Climate-induced shifts in plant and animal populations can be most effectively addressed through landscape-scale and ecosystem-based conservation and management approaches. Increasing habitat connectivity for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine systems is a key climate adaptation action that will enable species to disperse and follow physiological niches as environmental conditions and habitats shift.a3076178-f049-4380-9bc8-a601baae8ebb More active approaches like seed sourcing and assisted migration may be considered for planted species or those with limited natural dispersal ability.dac4918b-3fe4-48e6-927f-7e67346d62e1 However, for any assisted migration, there could be unforeseen and unwanted consequences. Although a provision to analyze and manage the potential consequences of assisted migration would not guarantee successful outcomes, developing such policies is warranted toward minimizing unintended consequences.dcbe9b79-4d34-4564-8bff-a1679897d9f3,f9b6b1bb-c408-4426-bf5b-0cd0ec5264e9 Systems that are already degraded or stressed from non-climate factors will have lower adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change impacts; therefore, restoration and conservation of land, freshwater, and marine areas that support valued species and habitats are key actions for natural resource managers to take. In addition, climate change refugia—areas relatively buffered from climate change that enable persistence—have become a focus of conservation and connectivity efforts to maintain highly valued vulnerable ecosystems and species in place as long as possible.ffc183bb-610c-46bf-aec1-fb03fd347c4d,4401b714-c4aa-4e90-af15-4153b3c6880a

Changes in phenology: Direct management of climate-induced phenological shifts or mismatches is challenging, as managers have few if any direct measures of control on phenology.1abd1782-8c41-462c-bd73-e61111765d30 However, research into how species’ phenologies are changing has the potential to support improved conservation outcomes by identifying high-priority phenological periods and informing changes in management actions accordingly. In Vermont grassland systems, for example, research on grassland bird nesting phenology identified the timing of haying as a critical stressor. In response, the timing of haying has been modified to accommodate the nesting phenology of several declining species, including the bobolink, demonstrating the potential for phenological data to support a successful conservation program.05ac76f1-7f9a-400e-b190-ddfc2a265d41,c32073c3-6597-4602-af8a-44f2509c8d73 Such monitoring and research efforts will become increasingly important as climate change results in further phenological shifts. Managing for phenological heterogeneity can also be an effective bet-hedging strategy to manage for a wide range of potential changes.1abd1782-8c41-462c-bd73-e61111765d30

Invasive species: Focusing efforts on the prevention, eradication, and control of invasive species and the implementation of early detection and rapid response (EDRR) can be considered an adaptation strategy to help maintain healthy ecosystems and preserve biodiversity such that natural systems are more resistant and resilient to climate change and extreme weather events.be0239b6-6114-431d-9fe1-a3ce7216a07a,6882153d-3133-4471-810b-08105047d35d Once an invasive species is established, EDRR is much more effective than efforts to control invasive species after they are widely established.5c0025a5-b10e-4bbe-ab99-2a10f11a2d85 The current U.S. National Invasive Species Council Management Plan895e969f-ef6a-4586-aa1d-533b4402862b recognizes the stressors of land-use change and climate change and calls for an assessment of national EDRR capabilities.

New information and remaining uncertainties:

Better predictive models are necessary to create effective adaptation strategies, but they can be hampered by a lack of sufficient data to adequately incorporate important biological mechanisms and feedback loops that influence climate change responses.92530347-b16b-4ada-a59e-af0c7cbe2426 This can be most effectively addressed if resource management approaches and monitoring efforts increasingly expand programs, especially at the community or ecosystem level, to detect and track changes in species composition, interactions, functioning, and tipping points, as well as to improve model inputs.3f4eb2c9-be96-4c86-b7a8-c8ae52e2445f,2c6edbef-f715-4eb8-a64f-1b35a40b8e7f,a34fbf0f-4e2a-4933-a4dc-01d0b7dd3eab

Changes in individual characteristics: Although genetic diversity is important for evolution and potentially for increasing the fitness of individuals, it does not guarantee that a species will adapt to future environmental conditions. Failure to adapt may occur when a species or population lacks genetic variability in a particular trait that is under selection (such as heat tolerance) as a result of climate change,161a6359-6e48-4cd4-bbb0-1def2934c83f despite having high overall genetic diversity.

Changes in Range: Although potential strategies for adaptation to range shifts can be readily identified, the lack of experience implementing these approaches to meet this issue results in uncertainty in the efficacy of different approaches. Another big uncertainty is the incomplete information on the ecology and responses of species and ecosystems to climate change.

Changes in phenology: Phenological sensitivity may also be an important component of organismal adaptive capacityf0930c90-8717-4075-8d10-aa8beda3d0fd and thus species' vulnerability to climate change, although additional research is required before resource managers can utilize known relative vulnerabilities to prioritize management activities.

Invasive species: There is some uncertainty in the optimal management approach for a given species and location. Best practices for management actions are often context specific; one approach will not fit all scenarios. Management of climate change and invasive species needs to explore such variables as the biology of the target species, the time of year or day for maximizing effectiveness, the ecological and sociocultural context, legal and institutional frameworks, and budget constraints and timeliness.bb0bd25d-6d90-4336-95d4-6dde685079ce

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is high confidence that traditional natural resource management strategies are increasingly challenged by the impacts of climate change.

There is high confidence that adaptation strategies that are flexible, consider the emerging and interactive impacts of climate and other stressors, and are coordinated across local and landscape scales are progressing from theory to application.

There is high confidence that significant challenges remain to comprehensively incorporate climate adaptation planning into mainstream natural resource management, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented actions.

References :

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