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Forecasting wildlife response to rapid warming in the Alaskan Arctic

June 1, 2015

Arctic wildlife species face a dynamic and increasingly novel environment because of climate warming and the associated increase in human activity. Both marine and terrestrial environments are undergoing rapid environmental shifts, including loss of sea ice, permafrost degradation, and altered biogeochemical fluxes. Forecasting wildlife responses to climate change can facilitate proactive decisions that balance stewardship with resource development. In this article, we discuss the primary and secondary responses to physical climate-related drivers in the Arctic, associated wildlife responses, and additional sources of complexity in forecasting wildlife population outcomes. Although the effects of warming on wildlife populations are becoming increasingly well documented in the scientific literature, clear mechanistic links are often difficult to establish. An integrated science approach and robust modeling tools are necessary to make predictions and determine resiliency to change. We provide a conceptual framework and introduce examples relevant for developing wildlife forecasts useful to management decisions. © 2015 Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences 2014. This work is written by US Government employees and is in the public domain in the US.