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Improving the Midwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool to support regional climate adaptation

August 24, 2023

An online climate vulnerability assessment dashboard was developed in 2021 through collaboration between U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to support regional climate adaptation efforts. The dashboard included 15 climate change impact metrics (five each from three categories: hydrology, precipitation, and temperature) and five metrics representing each watershed's capacity to adapt to changing conditions. Users could then adjust relative weights of each metric to generate vulnerability scores. The metrics included in the dashboard were identified by FWS for their programs but have broad relevance, making the dashboard useful to a wide range of stakeholders. For this project we had two primary goals: (1) update the online dashboard to better communicate the variability that is inherent in climate change projections, and (2) develop a use case example using the dashboard to collaboratively assess vulnerability of a resource of concern at a workshop with resource managers.

For objective 2, we selected prairie-obligate butterflies (POBs), which are dependent on, and often restricted to, native prairie habitat. The extent of native prairie has been greatly reduced over the last two centuries resulting in a patchwork of isolated and often small tracts of land. For many POBs, declines and extirpations have been observed in recent decades. Although the causes are not always known, hypotheses include overuse of management tools (e.g., too frequent burning or overgrazing), lack of dispersal opportunities, or extreme weather events. With more extreme weather events anticipated in the future along with other changes in climate, it is important to better understand the vulnerability of POBs to design effective adaptation strategies. While research on extreme weather, climate change, and adaptation is ongoing for some prairie-obligate species, this workshop sought to take a broad perspective using POBs as the focal taxonomic group across eight U.S. States in the Midwest During the workshop we discussed weather and climate-related influences on butterfly communities and assessed climate change vulnerability using the Watershed-based Midwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool ( We produced maps that quantify the regional vulnerability of POBs across 360 watersheds for two future emissions scenarios. The information developed during the workshop could help in regional planning for climate change adaptation and to identify avenues for research and collaboration for POBs in the Midwest. 

Publication Year 2023
Title Improving the Midwest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Tool to support regional climate adaptation
Authors John T. Delaney, Kristen L. Bouska
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Final Report
Index ID 70253186
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center