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Climate change adaptation thinking for managed wetlands

January 31, 2022

Climate change presents new and ongoing challenges to natural resource management. To confront these challenges effectively, managers need to develop proactive adaptation strategies to prepare for and deal with the effects of climate change. We engaged managers and biologists from several midwestern U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field stations to understand recent and future climate change effects, identify adaptation barriers and opportunities, and pilot an approach for integrating adaptation thinking into management planning. To start, three structured discussions informed our understanding of how managers currently deal with climate change effects, the strategies being implemented to cope, and the barriers that limit climate change adaptation efforts. We used these insights to develop a multiday virtual workshop geared toward identifying potential adaptation strategies for managed wetlands. First, we developed a conceptual model to visualize how management actions are used to meet habitat objectives within wetland management systems. Next, we discussed how climate change may affect management actions and objectives; we used this understanding of potential effects to spatially assess vulnerability of managed wetlands to climate change. Using a scenario planning approach, we incorporated multiple potential future conditions and identified effects and adaptation strategies that could be considered for each scenario. As a result, several adaptation strategies for managed wetlands under dry and wet future scenarios were identified that can be applied when developing site-specific adaptation plans. Based on our piloted approach, we determined it would be important to have an adaptation team composed of scientists and managers to facilitate discussions, develop appropriate scenarios, and identify realistic adaptation options. We document the tools, findings, and adaptation thinking process taken to enhance adaptation efforts of managed wetlands. The adaptation thinking process can be applied to advance adaptation efforts in other habitats, ecosystems, and site-specific land management.

Publication Year 2022
Title Climate change adaptation thinking for managed wetlands
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211103
Authors John T. Delaney, Kristen L. Bouska, Josh D. Eash
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2021-1103
Index ID ofr20211103
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center