Adaptive capacity of socioecological systems under climate change in north central United States
Management of our natural resources in a sustainable manner is a growing challenge due to the complex nature of changing driving forces on and dynamics in social-ecological systems. Climate and land use changes are affecting the physical and socio-economic components of the world around us, thereby affecting the water supply, habitat for wildlife, consumption patterns of different sectors of society, and other aspects of social-ecological systems. Management decisions are being developed in ways that call for meeting multiple, sometimes competing, goals and tradeoffs across sectors and policy interests ranging from ranching to conservation to economic development and the use of a suite of natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable. How we discern and reconcile different social-ecological controlling variables of commodities or services exchanged within different system components are not well understood. In addition, how decisions on choices of trade-offs are not well formulated to evaluate feedback in the social ecological systems. Yet, society needs to address these issues to meet these challenges and to engage in a more informed dialogue in order to formulate options and strategies that will manage changes occurring to our natural resources and affecting social-ecological systems. This paper will present a social ecological approach to evaluate vulnerability and response strategies to meet management needs under the influence of multiple changes.
The North Central Climate Science Center is working with decision making and regional planners in the West to evaluate and assist them to meet these challenges arising from climate change affecting natural resources, ecosystem services, and biodiversity. The ability to manage for resilience and to strengthen conservation efforts under changing climate conditions in complex terrain is difficult without climate information at the appropriate scales. We present examples of various adaptation strategies dealing with climate change to demonstrate the range of local coping strategies resulting from differential capacity to respond to various climate change effects.