Implications of Climate Change for Ecosystem Processes in the Southwest U.S.
Friday, August 9, 2013: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
101C, Minneapolis Convention Center
Dawn M. Browning
Carolyn A.F. Enquist
Carolyn A.F. Enquist
Arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern USA are especially sensitive to changes in temperature as well as drought frequency and intensity. The region is experiencing predicted changes in climate (i.e., increased variability of rainfall and more frequent extreme events). This reality coupled with expanding growth and the increasing demand for water has positioned the southwestern U.S. as a ‘canary in the coal mine.’ The objectives for the oral session are to (1) engage ecologists across disciplines to highlight the implications of climate change for ecosystem function in southwestern ecosystems, (2) contribute to a conversation that involves researchers and practitioners formulating adaptation and conservation strategies, and (3) promote the transfer of integrative and relevant information to the public. The session will open with a perspective on the role of humans in defining the footprint of urban environments while providing an overview of the regional report of the National Climate Assessment. The second through fourth talks provide three examples of altered ecological processes tied to ecosystem function: sustainability of freshwater ecosystems, biotic feedbacks linked to altered disturbance regimes, and asynchronous shifts in phenology of plants and their pollinators. Two presentations follow that feature on-the-ground examples of how communities are adapting management strategies to mitigate changes due to climate. Conservation applications are followed by a presentation on the state of science tools and information to serve the growing and pressing need of private individuals and land managers. The session will close with an emphasis on the role of scientists in the exchange of information to facilitate use of the best-available data for decision making.