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SE CASC Initiates Six New Actionable Science Projects During FY18


Research funded by the SE CASC encompasses a range of science activities that contribute to understanding the exposure and impacts of global change on resources that matter to our partners and to framing decisions about adaptation strategies, emphasizing principles of co-produced actionable science. Science funding decisions are guided by annual science priorities developed with input from key federal, state, and tribal partners in the Southeast. 

The Southeast CASC is excited about our new projects to address management questions in the region. Six new SE CASC funded projects have been initiated in fiscal year 2018, addressing science topics varying from impacts on wildlife and plants to communicating future sea-level rise scenarios. The work conducted under these projects supports the Secretary of Interior’s priority to create a conservation stewardship legacy by using science to identify best practices to manage land and water resources and adapt to changes in the environment. Project information including which SE CASC researchers are Principal or Co-Investigators leading the project, anticipated end dates, and a description of the project are provided below. Look for more projects to be announced as they commence.
Freestone creek in Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Assessment of Water Availability and Streamflow Characteristics in the Southeastern U.S. for Current and Future Climatic and Landscape Conditions

Principal Investigator: Jacob LaFontaine, Georgia Water Science Center
Start Date:  Sept 2018
Expected End Date: Aug 2020
To effectively plan for and adapt to future climate and land cover conditions, managers need information on streamflow variability that could impact the distribution and quantity of water resources. Flow can be monitored using stream gages, which provides information about the amount and variability of surface water resources at a location. Not every stream has a gage, so hydrologic models can be used to provide estimates of streamflow characteristics. This project will use a modeling approach that groups watersheds that are gaged with watersheds that are not gaged to provide accurate estimates of water availability for all watersheds in the southeastern U.S. under current and potential climate and land cover conditions.
To view a full project summary click here.
Green Meadow in North Carolina

Clarifying Science Needs for Southeastern Grasslands

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Cartwright, Tennessee Water Science Center
Co-Investigator: Dwayne Estes, Southeastern Grasslands Initiative
Start Date: Aug 2018
Expected End Date: Aug 2019
Grasslands in the southeastern U.S. are home to rare plant and animal species, hosting a wealth of biodiversity. Extensive agriculture, urbanization, and fire suppression have reduced the Southeast’s grasslands by approximately 90% and climate change will impose additional stress on this diverse ecosystem. Scientific and conservation professionals will collaborate to explore the challenges facing grassland species conservation by clarifying the research and data needs of the USFWS and state agencies related to Species Status Assessments for imperiled grassland species. This project will specify the types of data and analysis most needed to help grassland managers restore, conserve, and manage these ecosystems into the future.
To view a full project summary click here.
Coastline in Gulf Island National Seashore

Communicating Future Sea-Level Rise Scenarios for Gulf Coast National Wildlife Refuge and National Park Lands

Principal Investigator: Michael Osland, National Wetlands Research Center
Start Date: Sept 2018
Expected End Date: Oct 2019
Low-lying public lands along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast are vulnerable to sea-level rise. Coastal planners and resource managers have requested customized information that can concisely communicate risk. Researchers will develop fact sheets outlining potential sea-level rise scenarios for the region through 2100, and the potential impacts of varying amounts of sea-level rise on the missions of national wildlife refuge and national park lands along the Gulf Coast. Researchers will draw from existing information on regional and global sea-level rise scenarios and associated projections of high-tide flooding to develop customized fact sheets for the region’s 38 NWRs and 9 NPS lands.
To view a full project summary click here.
Pine Forest in Florida

Developing Future Habitat Condition Scenarios for Wildlife in the Imperiled Pine Rockland Ecosystem of South Florida

Principal Investigator: Susan Walls, Southeast Ecological Science Center
Co-Investigators: William Barichivich, Southeast Ecological Science Center; Michael Cherkiss, Southeast Ecological Science Center; Kristen Hart, Southeast Ecological Science Center
Start Date: Oct 2018
Expected End Date: Aug 2019
The pine rockland ecosystem provides critical habitat for numerous plant and animal species, many of which are endangered. However, this area of south Florida is threatened by saltwater intrusion from hurricanes and sea -level rise. This project will evaluate habitat conditions for the rim rock crowned snake and the key ringneck snake, two species being considered for federal listing. Researchers will identify potential future changes in habitat that could result from different management actions and environmental conditions. They will explore the potential impacts of these habitat changes on both species. The results can inform the conservation, management, and recovery of these and other at-risk species found in the ecosystem.
To view a full project summary click here.

Identifying the Ecological and Management Implications of Mangrove Migration in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Principal Investigator: Michael Osland, National Wetlands Research Center
Start Date: Jan 2019
Expected End Date: July 2020
In response to warming winter temperatures, mangroves are expected to continue migrating northward at the expense of salt marshes. Coastal wetland managers need information and tools that will enable them to forecast the ecological impacts of these shifts. Researchers will leverage a community-curated data network called the Mangrove Migration Network to examine damage and mortality temperature thresholds for mangrove species common to the region. Workshops will be held with managers to identify issues related to mangrove restoration and management in coastal wetlands. The results will help managers better understand what is happening on the lands they manage, and evaluate alternative restoration activities that involve migrating mangroves.
To view a full project summary click here.

Synthesizing Climate Change Impacts on Wildlife Health and Identifying Adaptation Strategies

Principal Investigator: Erik Hofmeister, USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Co-Investigator: Jonathan Sleeman, USGS National Wildlife Health Center
Start Date: July 2018
Expected End Date: July 2019
Changing climate conditions could have significant impacts on wildlife health. Shifts in temperature and precipitation may directly affect the occurrence of disease in fish and wildlife by altering their interactions with pathogens (such as the bacterium that causes Lyme disease), helping vectors like mosquitoes and ticks expand their range, or speeding up the time it takes for a parasite to develop from an egg to an adult. Climate change can also indirectly affect the health of fish and wildlife as their habitats change. The goal of this project is to review and synthesize existing information on the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife health across North America. Researchers will develop a searchable database containing this information, and will use that database to identify gaps in knowledge and unique areas of concern.
To view a full project summary click here.