NOROCK EcoLunch Seminar Series

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NOROCK EcoLunch is a forum for students, researchers, visiting scientists and collaborators in the environmental sciences to present their current and past work. Presentations will range from brown bag discussions of ongoing projects to more formal seminar presentations. 

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Date: Tuesday, September 11

Time:  12 p.m.  Mountain Time

Presenter: Amanda Cravens, Research Social Scientist, USGS Fort Collins Science Center

Title: Understanding and Responding to Ecological Drought: Supporting the National Drought Resilience Partnership in Montana’s Upper Missouri Headwaters

Abstract: In the 21st century, increased drought severity and duration (i.e. from hotter temperatures, longer duration and greater spatial extent) combine with human need for water and modification of watersheds and riverscapes. As a result, ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of drought, leading in turn to impacts on the human livelihoods and other ecosystem service benefits that depend on those ecosystems (Crausbay et al 2017). These ecological drought impacts appear to be particularly important in landscapes like the Upper Missouri Headwaters of southwestern Montana, where ecosystem-dependent activities like fishing are major economic drivers. Despite their importance to local communities and economies, however, ecological drought vulnerabilities and impacts remain poorly understood compared to the more-recognized impacts drought has on agriculture and municipal water supplies.

This presentation reports on the collaboration of two groups to understand and address ecological drought resilience in the Upper Missouri Headwaters. The State of Montana and the Upper Missouri Headwaters demonstration project of the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) is coordinating local, state, and federal agency efforts to address the overall challenge of building drought resilience in this region. The USGS-funded Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) Ecological Drought Working Group brings together scientists representing federal agencies, academia, and NGOs to synthesize ecological drought science. The working group is using the Upper Missouri Headwaters region as a case study.

The goal of our collaboration is to understand and reduce vulnerability to ecological drought in southwest Montana and across the country. In order to meet this goal, the SNAPP Working Group developed a conceptual framework defining ecological drought (Crausbay et al 2017) that has been used by the NDRP Montana demonstration project to structure drought planning meetings and as part of the education process for community members participating in local drought planning efforts. We have held workshops to help drought planners and other stakeholders identify the ecosystem services present in the region and we have used interviews to identify a “bottom-up” view of stakeholders’ perceptions of science needs and ecological drought vulnerability. We have also used ecological modelling approaches to understand vulnerability, investigating drivers by retrospective analysis of past ecological drought events. Through these diverse science activities, the SNAPP Working Group is supporting the NDRP’s understanding of and response to ecological drought.

Our collaboration suggests that partnerships between planners and scientists can help drought planning move beyond traditional consideration of agriculture and water supply to a more holistic view of drought resilience that includes consideration of drought’s impacts on ecosystems and ecosystem services.

Crausbay, S. D., and Coauthors, 2017: Defining ecological drought for the twenty-first century. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.98, 2543–2550,

Location: First Floor Conference Room, "Madison Room", 2327 University Way, Suite 2.  (Click HERE for directions)

Call in: DOI locations: 703.648.4848, non-DOI: 1.855.547.8255
Meeting passcode: 59098744

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