Accounting for Ecological Impacts of Climate Change in State Wildlife Action Plans: A comparison of Model-Based and Index-Based Vulnerability Assessments

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Project Information

Paul Armsworth, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Proposed Project Completion: December 2023

Implements Science Plan Theme: Impacts

Co-Investigators:
Monica Papes, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Xingli Giam, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Overview

State wildlife agencies and their partners use State Wildlife Action Plans to coordinate and guide management activities aimed at protecting species. To do so, they must identify factors putting species and their habitats at risk. Current and future climate change is one such factor. To succeed, management actions need to account for impacts of climate change on species today and in the future as climate change accelerates in coming decades.

Researchers use modeling approaches to simulate and understand how future climate change will impact species. In contrast, natural resource managers involved in wildlife action plans tend to favor index-based scoring approaches to understand the risks to and vulnerability of species. This project will compare the two methods. The project researchers will examine where the two methods agree in their determinations about species vulnerability, evaluate where any disagreements originate, and recommend how the two can be combined to arrive at consensus determinations about species vulnerability.

The main questions and analyses addressed in this project will be relevant to many states, but will focus on the Southeast. The project will also focus on terrestrial and freshwater species identified by state wildlife agencies as representing a shared concern among states in the Southeast. The team will provide data resources to state wildlife agency staff across the region in a format and at a time that can support the upcoming 2025 revision of wildlife action plans.