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Applying assessments of adaptive capacity to inform natural-resource management in a changing climate

October 8, 2021

Adaptive capacity (AC)—the ability of a species to cope with or accommodate climate change—is a critical determinant of species vulnerability. Using information on species’ AC in conservation planning is key to ensuring successful outcomes. We identified connections between a list of species’ attributes (e.g., traits, population metrics, and behaviors) that were recently proposed for assessing species’ AC and management actions that may enhance AC for species at risk of extinction. Management actions were identified based on evidence from the literature, a review of actions used in other climate adaptation guidance, and our collective experience in diverse fields of global-change ecology and climate adaptation. Selected management actions support the general AC pathways of persist in place or shift in space, in response to contemporary climate change. Some actions, such as genetic manipulations, can be used to directly alter the ability of species to cope with climate change, whereas other actions can indirectly enhance AC by addressing ecological or anthropogenic constraints on the expression of a species’ innate abilities to adapt. Ours is the first synthesis of potential management actions directly linked to AC. Focusing on AC attributes helps improve understanding of how and why aspects of climate are affecting organisms, as well as the mechanisms by which management interventions affect a species’ AC and climate change vulnerability. Adaptive-capacity-informed climate adaptation is needed to build connections among the causes of vulnerability, AC, and proposed management actions that can facilitate AC and reduce vulnerability in support of evolving conservation paradigms.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Applying assessments of adaptive capacity to inform natural-resource management in a changing climate
DOI 10.1111/cobi.13838
Authors Lindsey Leigh Thurman, John E. Gross, Claudia Mengelt, Erik A. Beever, Laura Thompson, Gregor W. Schuurman, Christopher Hoving, Julian D. Olden
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Biology
Series Number
Index ID 70230109
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center

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