2019 CASC Spotlight Series: Publications

Release Date:

The CASC Network’s science research and findings address the informational needs of natural and cultural resource managers. In 2019, many CASC researchers published on topics around drought, fire, partnerships, and wildlife and habitats.



Island Drought Website and Factsheets Available to Explore

The National, Pacific Islands, and Southeast CASCs have been working with partners to identify key threats, challenges, and management needs related to drought in the U.S. Caribbean and U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. The two-page summaries synthesize drought impacts and monitoring needs for ecosystems, freshwater, and agriculture sectors. These materials were highlighted at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forestry Council Meeting in Honolulu, HI, where they sparked important discussions around management solutions which address the unique impacts of drought on island ecosystems and communities. Learn more >>


Planning for Ecological Drought: Integrating Ecosystem Services and Vulnerability Assessment

National CASC researchers and co-authors tested an approach for incorporating ecological impacts into drought planning, based on ecosystem services - i.e., the benefits humans receive from nature. Results suggest that a combination of open-ended vulnerability assessment methods and gathering information on ecosystem services can result in greater understanding of vulnerability to ecological drought in a given region. Learn more >>


Study Finds that California's Future Weather Will Alternate Between Drought and Atmospheric Rivers

A study funded in part by the Southwest CASC describes future precipitation changes in California. Researchers found that a pattern of wet and dry extremes could become the norm for California due to atmospheric rivers, narrow bands of concentrated water vapor in the atmosphere that carry heavy pulses of precipitation to the West Coast. Learn more >>


Conceptual Modeling for Improved Understanding of the Rio Grande/Bravo Socio-Environmental System

Even in areas with highly engineered water systems, such as the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin in the southwestern United States, issues like drought and over-allocation of water still can be a daunting task to tackle. In a South Central CASC-supported study, researchers assessed the current use of water in the Rio Grande/ Bravo Basin. By understanding how the system works, water managers can make more informed decisions about their water use. Learn more >>


Synthesis on Ecological Drought in the Northwest

To help resource managers plan for increasing ecological drought under climate change, Northwest CASC-funded researchers synthesized the scientific body of research on climate adaptation actions that address ecological drought in the Northwest. They developed a report that:

  • provides an overview of ecological drought impacts in the Northwest
  • describes effective ecological drought adaptation actions available to and in use by resource managers and
  • presents potential future options for management under changing conditions.

Learn More >>


Balancing the Needs of Freshwater Consumption for Society and the Needs of Vital Ecosystems

Researchers funded by the South Central CASC developed a planning framework that helps water managers balance the needs of freshwater consumption for society and the needs of vital ecosystems. The framework has been applied in the Red River Basin as a case study. This framework can be applied outside the Red River and used in areas around the world where drought is a major concern in the near future. Learn more >>


Managing Effects of Drought on Rangeland and Pacific Island Resources

In a technical report to the U.S. Forest Service, North Central and Pacific Island CASC researchers and co-authors describe the need to track drought conditions, the prospect of future drought, and drought effects on rangeland and Pacific Island resources. They provide drought-wise best management practices (BMPs), including both U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USFS) and U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) guidelines, to manage rangelands for increased drought resilience. They emphasize planning and collaboration that will help incorporate drought into management of natural resource systems. Learn more >>

North Central CASC Contribution 

Pacific Islands CASC Contribution



Fire icon

Low-Intensity Fires Decreasing in the Northwest's Dry Forests

Research funded by the Northwest CASC shows a decrease in low-intensity fires in Pacific Northwest forests, particularly in the region’s dry forests. However, when these forests do burn, the fires are more severe. This research can inform forest managers’ use of controlled burns and logging practices to manage forest health. Learn more >>


Planning for Wildfire: The Alaska CASC Focuses on Solutions

Research on the relationship between wildfire and other ecological disturbances, such as drought, is invaluable to resource managers planning for and adapting to the evolving threat that fire poses to humans, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Understanding how landscapes will respond to these shifts is key to adaptive management. In response to this need, Jeremy Littell, a USGS Research Ecologist at the Alaska CASC, has been working to contribute to our existing body of wildfire knowledge.  Learn more >>


Thinning Forests: Prescribing Fire Before Drought May Reduce Tree Loss

The results of a study partly funded by the Southwest CASC found that prescribed fire treatments may reduce tree loss during future droughts and bark beetle epidemics. This research suggests that expanding the use of managed fire under moderate fire-weather conditions, along with strategic thinning and prescribed burn treatments, may increase resilience across forests in the Southwest.  Learn more >>


Scientific American Article Highlights Wildfire in Alaska

The Alaska CASC Program Coordinator, Jane Wolken, published an article on the Scientific American Observations blog, titled “As Alaska Warms, Wildfires Pose a Growing Threat.” Wolken shares her unique experiences as a Fairbanks resident, boreal forest ecologist, and participant in Alaska CASC research on wildfire projections in Interior Alaska. Learn more >> 



Partnerships icon

Implications of Climate Scenarios for Badlands National Park Resource Management

South Dakota’s Badlands National Park hosts myriad natural and cultural resources that are sensitive to climate. Anticipating precisely how climate change will affect these resources, though, is difficult. North Central CASC researchers addressed this challenge by working with National Park Service personnel and other partners to implement a scenario planning approach that anticipates potential climate impacts on key resources and identifies management options for the park as well as adjacent federal and tribal lands. Learn more >>


Strategies for Community Health: Climate Change in Port Heiden, Alaska

The Alaska Peninsula community of Port Heiden is experiencing a variety of environmental impacts related to a changing climate, including changes to the growing season, wildfire patterns, and annual snowpack. The Alaska CASC participated in an assessment led by the Bristol Bay Native Association to identify the scope of environmental change and its impacts in Port Heiden, and to identify priorities that will help the community adapt.  Each priority area incorporates local knowledge with available climate science and takes the expected future changes into consideration. Learn more >> 


Adapting Cultural Resources to Climate Change Effects in the Southeast

Southeast CASC researchers worked with the National Park Service to assess a portfolio of adaptation actions that could most effectively preserve an assortment of buildings and historical structures at Cape Lookout National Seashore over a 30-year planning horizon. This information can enhance national park management and inform climate-adaptation decision-making in historic districts. Learn more >>


Climate Adaptation Guidance for Department of Defense Natural Resource Managers

The Southwest CASC’s Deputy Director co-authored a report designed to help Department of Defense installation managers mitigate climate-related vulnerabilities and risks. The guide provides an overview of how climatic changes may impact military lands and resources as well as offering a structured process for incorporating climate considerations into conservation and management decisions. Learn more >>


Finding the Sweet Spot

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the U.S. Geological Survey and colleagues in New Hampshire, Virginia, Indiana, Montana and Canada found that by 2100, the region of maximum maple syrup flow will shift northward by hundreds of miles. This will benefit producers in Canada and lower production and quality in the Eastern United States. These results provide spatially-explicit projections for forest managers and syrup producers making decisions on the location and viability of management for maple syrup production. Learn more>>



Bird icon.

Introduced Species Dilute the Effects of Evolution on Diversity

Pacific Islands CASC researchers and partners explored how historical and recent ecological processes influence regional biodiversity across the Hawaiian archipelago. Their analysis showed that older islands, such as Kaua'i, had a greater number of rare species and native species than islands that formed more recently, such as Hawai'i Island. However, evidence also suggested that the contemporary introduction of non-native species to the ecosystem weakens the island age signal. These results show that local managers will need to consider both contemporary and historical drivers in their systems to maintain native biodiversity. Learn more >>


Documenting Shifts in Life Cycle Events for Marine Species in the Gulf of Maine

Recorded observations of the timing of plant and animal life cycle events, such as when flowers first bloom or when birds first hatch in the spring, are common in terrestrial systems; however, there is limited understanding of similar life cycle events that occur in oceans. Recognizing this gap in knowledge, Northeast CASC Science Coordinator Michelle Staudinger led a team in synthesizing the available science on shifts to marine life cycle events in the Gulf of Maine. Learn more >> 


Exploring Climate Effects on Small, Biologically Diverse “Island” Ecosystems of the Southeast

Ecological “islands” in the Southeast include small habitat patches such as rock outcrops, bogs, springs, and sinkholes. These isolated habitat patches support plant and animal species that have adapted to the stressful environmental conditions found in these patches, and in many cases are confined to that ecosystem. Southeast CASC-supported researcher Jennifer Cartwright developed a framework for anticipating, studying, and managing climate-change impacts in these unique ecosystems. Learn more >>


Climate Change Effects on Deer and Moose in the Midwest

Midwestern states have identified the effects of climate change on ungulates, such as deer and moose, as a priority research area because of concerns about altered population and harvest dynamics. Northeast and National CASC researchers synthesized available information on the impacts of climate change on white-tailed deer and moose in 13 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, finding that deer populations could increase in response while  moose populations could decrease. Learn more >>


Resistance of Mangrove to Hurricane Disturbances

Mangroves provide protection to society from storm surge and sea level rise, but their inherent resistance to hurricanes may be negatively impacted by climate change. Researchers from the South Central CASC sought to explore how increased environmental stress and range shifts impact the resiliency of mangrove forests to hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. Learn more >>


Identifying changes in boreal bird communities in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks represent a unique opportunity to study the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities of wildlife living at the edge of their range. National CASC researchers collaborated with scientists at the Wildlife Conservation Society to study the effects of climate change on the community composition of boreal birds. Using long term datasets, they investigated which species have done well over time as the climate has changed, which species have declined, and where these changes have occurred. Learn more >>


<< See more of the 2019 Annual CASC Spotlight Series