Climate Change in Wildlands: Pioneering Applications of Science to Management in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains
Tuesday, August 11, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
315, Baltimore Convention Center
Andrew Hansen, Montana State University
Jeffrey T Morisette, North Central Climate Science Cente; and
William Monahan, National Park Service
David Roberts, Montana State University
Climate change is already apparent and accelerating in many ecosystems, resulting in a cascade of ecological responses that challenge the ability of scientists and managers to understand and steward these rapidly changing systems. Challenges stem from the very nature of human-induced climate change. It is manifest over time periods that are long relative to scientific study and resource management horizons. It occurs across areas larger than the spatial domains of federal land jurisdictions, necessitating interagency collaboration. It is intertwined with natural climate variation, sometimes making directional effects difficult to elucidate.
Wildland ecosystems in wilderness areas and national parks are by definition relatively natural. These “natural” systems are often considered to be more resilient to climate change than more human-altered systems The traits that distinguish wildlands, however, create additional challenges for integrated science and management. Scientific experimentation and management manipulations are limited by philosophical, logistical, and legal constraints. Difficulty of access limits data collection and the feasibility of active management. Moreover, U.S. wildlands are disproportionately located at the high, dry, and cold ends of biophysical gradients, such as mountain tops, where there may be fewer options for adaptation to changing conditions. Thus, our iconic wildland ecosystems such as Yellowstone or Great Smoky Mountains National Parks present particularly difficult challenges to ecologists and managers.
This oral session reports on a unique collaboration among scientists and resource managers to address the challenges described above and to enhance knowledge on ecological response to climate change and serve decision support products to resource managers. Our goal is to demonstrate an effective approach for integrating science and management to cope with climate change in the wildland ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians. Speakers will provide:
• A guiding conceptual framework;
• The latest theory and tools for climate scenario downscaling, ecological forecasting, species distribution modeling and vulnerability assessment;
• The challenges of linking science to management in the context of socioeconomic systems;
• Compelling examples of climate adaptation planning among federal agencies.
Now in its 100th year, the ESA has championed the role of ecological knowledge in environmental decision making. This session will be of interest to ESA members that seek a better understanding of the long-term ecological impacts of climate change over large wildland ecosystems and how to best use science to inform decisions on the management of natural resource in the face of rapid climate change