Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment

Science Center Objects

Peninsular Florida is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the United States. With complex socioeconomic and ecology dynamics and a large number of governing agencies involved in conservation planning, USGS worked to created an appropriate framework for landscape conservation cooperative-scale decision-making across current conservation planning agencies and jurisdictions. 

Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment
Peninsular Florida's low elevation leaves it at risk to sea-level rise. 

PROJECT COMPLETED

The Science Issue and Relevance: The Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the U.S. Its low elevation makes it susceptible to sea level rise. Some of the potential risks include population displacement, loss of economic assets, critical infrastructure failure, and an increased occurrence or severity of natural disturbances such as hurricanes and droughts. In addition to the threats posed by climate change, the population of the PFLCC is potentially going to double in the next 50 years, requiring as much as 1.7 million acres for urban land use.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: Given the region’s complex socioeconomic and ecological dynamics and the large number of governing agencies involved in conservation planning, the key research component is to create an appropriate framework for LCC-scale decision-making across current conservation planning agencies and jurisdictions. We will: 1. Create a focused list of stakeholders related to climate change and Greater Everglades restoration (government, non-profits, and others). 2. Contact each of the stakeholders to determine the nature of the activities related to climate change that they are completing and collect relevant data that will be incorporated into the scenarios. 3. Refine the existing Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scenarios so as to consider new issues, data and geographies encountered in the broader PFLCC region. Update models with revised spatial information which is relevant and appropriate (i.e., census 2010, new NOAA sea level rise methods supporting LIDAR where available). 4. Update the scenarios as best as possible to take advantage of recent advances in vegetation succession modeling. While not spatially comprehensive, initial work will make use of the outputs of NPS’ Everglades Landscape Vegetation Succession model (ELVeS). 5. Consult with FWS and USGS to identify a subset of 3 to 5 species to develop a detail vulnerability assessment to both climate and urban change.

Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment
The key research component was to create an appropriate framework for LCC-scale decision-making across current conservation planning agencies and jurisdictions.

During the course of the project, staff will: 1. Develop a decision support framework for the PFLCC to scientifically determine the optimal areas for conservation related to key species and habitats. 2. Create a revised series of alternative future scenarios (based on previous work from MIT) that reflect the PFLCC geography 3. Quantify within highest-priority conservation areas, ‘management contexts’, and likely fates of various lands. 4. Assess the consequence of MIT regional scenarios on a subset of threatened and endangered species. 5. Understand if and how major methodological choices for species-habitat impact assessment affect conclusions drawn. 6. Extend the scenarios spatially and conceptually to fit the PFLCC boundary (add 10 counties to the existing MIT scenario geography) to provide a robust and comprehensive scientific and socioeconomic base for decision-making.

Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment
Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) climate scenarios and species vulnerability assessment

Future Steps: None, project completed.

Products:

Vargas-Moreno, JC. 2013. Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) Climate Scenarios and Species Vulnerability Assessment. Report to the US Geological Survey.