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Northwest CASC-supported researchers developed a new framework to assess how a wide variety of species may adapt to climate change.

Plants and animals will respond to climate change impacts in their habitat in a variety of ways. Evaluating species’ vulnerability to change often focuses on their exposure and sensitivity to change, however, adaptive capacity, or a species' ability to either stay and adapt to these changes or move on to an area that better suits their needs, is another key component of vulnerability. While adaptive capacity is critical to conservation planning, its complex nature has made it difficult for managers to incorporate it into their decision making. 

In a recent paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Northwest CASC partnership ecologist Lindsey Thurman and her co-authors developed a new framework that incorporates adaptive capacity factors into management practices to better inform conservation planning. This innovative framework, presented in a "wheel", includes 36 adaptive capacity characteristics, which are organized into seven distinct categories to evaluate a species level of adaptive capacity on a scale of low, moderate, or high. By creating a means to bring clarity to the complexity that climate change creates, the framework offers a more detailed outlook on a species’ adaptive capacity, which can better inform climate adaptation and conservation efforts.  

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