From Silverswords to Honeycreepers: Projects from the Pacific Islands
Eight project snapshots provide a glimpse into some of the research supported by the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center.Learn More
Linking Atmospheric Rivers to Wildfire Patterns in the Southwest
A new dataset and publication examine a meteorological phenomenon known as an atmospheric river and its role in wildfire patterns.Learn More
National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
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The National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) acts as the managing entity for the eight Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers (CSCs). The NCCWSC and CSCs partner with natural & cultural resource managers to provide science that helps fish, wildlife, ecosystems & the communities they support adapt to climate change.Learn More About Our Work
Our research looks at how intense droughts, sea-level rise, extreme storms, and other consequences of climate change are affecting wildlife, ecosystems, and human communities that depend on these resources. We strive to develop data and tools that are usable and that directly address the informational needs of natural & cultural resource managers.Search our Research Projects
Adapting to climate change and variability, and their associated impacts, requires integrating scientific information into complex decision making processes. Recognizing this challenge, there have been calls for federal climate change science to be designed and conducted in a way that ensures the research translates into effective decision support. Despite the existence of many decision...
Information Science staff help the National Office of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Centers and individual Climate Science Centers with a variety of project and data management activities, including storing, managing, and distributing datasets; building and maintaining metadata; discovering datasets; and delivering their data and metadata as web services through various...
Long periods without rainfall can alter the delicate balance of natural ecosystems and harm many fish and wildlife species. The term “ecological drought” encompasses and emphasizes these environmental consequences. The CSCs and NCCWSC are working with partners to understand the regional effects of ecological drought, identify potential threats to valued resources, and prioritize research...
The CSCs and NCCWSC are working with tribes and indigenous communities to better understand their specific vulnerabilities to climate change and to help them adapt to these impacts. This work is conducted through research projects, outreach events (ie. cultural festivals and tribal schools), training workshops, stakeholder meetings, youth internships and other coordination activities.
The CSCs and the NCCWSC are committed to supporting young and early career scientists and managers in learning about and conducting research on the climate change impacts to fish and wildlife, developing skills in science communications, user interactions, and stakeholder engagement, and developing a network of peers to support their career development.
The work and research initiatives at the CSCs and NCCWSC is strongly guided by our partners. We work closely with federal agencies, state and local governments, American Indian tribes and indigenous communities, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector to make important decisions about science focus areas and funding priorities.
Science projects are the backbone of the NCCWSC and CSCs. Our projects are based on the needs of our partners, including land managers, natural/cultural resource managers, tribal and indigenous communities. Our research is complemented by our other efforts that include training the next generation of scientists and conducting national synthesis projects that cross CSC boundaries.
Our research projects cover a variety of topics that address the impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, ecosystems, & the communities they support. Find a selection of publications from our projects below or use our extended search tool to find publications or data on specific topics.Search for Publications and Data
Grand challenges in the management and conservation of North American inland fishes and fisheries
Even with long-standing management and extensive science support, North American inland fish and fisheries still face many conservation and management challenges. We used a grand challenges approach to identify critical roadblocks that if removed would help solve important problems in the management and long-term conservation of North American...Lynch, Abigail; Cooke, Steven J.; Beard, Douglas; Kao, Yu-Chun; Lorenzen, Kai; Song, Andrew M.; Allen, Micheal S.; Basher, Zeenatul; Bunnell, David; Camp, Edward V.; Cowx, Ian G.; Freedman, Jonathan A.; Nguyen, Vivian M.; Nohner, Joel K.; Rogers, Mark W.; Siders, Zachary A.; Taylor, William W.; Youn, So-Jung
The role of fish in a globally changing food system
Though humans have been fishing for food since they first created tools to hunt, modern food systems are predominately terrestrial focused and fish are frequently overlooked. Yet, within the global food system, fish play an important role in meeting current and future food needs. Capture fisheries are the last large-scale “wild” food, and...Lynch, Abigail J.; MacMillan, J. Randy
Twitter predicts citation rates of ecological research
The relationship between traditional metrics of research impact (e.g., number of citations) and alternative metrics (altmetrics) such as Twitter activity are of great interest, but remain imprecisely quantified. We used generalized linear mixed modeling to estimate the relative effects of Twitter activity, journal impact factor, and time since...Peoples, Brandon K.; Midway, Stephen R.; Sackett, Dana K.; Lynch, Abigail; Cooney, Patrick B.
Stakeholder views of management and decision support tools to integrate climate change into Great Lakes Lake Whitefish management
Decision support tools can aid decision making by systematically incorporating information, accounting for uncertainties, and facilitating evaluation between alternatives. Without user buy-in, however, decision support tools can fail to influence decision-making processes.Lynch, Abigail J.; Taylor, William W.; McCright, Aaron M.
Resource management and operations in southwest South Dakota: Climate change scenario planning workshop summary January 20-21, 2016, Rapid City, SD
The Scaling Climate Change Adaptation in the Northern Great Plains through Regional Climate Summaries and Local Qualitative-Quantitative Scenario Planning Workshops project synthesizes climate data into 3-5 distinct but plausible climate summaries for the northern Great Plains region; crafts quantitative summaries of these climate futures for two...Fisichelli, Nicholas A.; Schuurman, Gregor W; Symstad, Amy; Ray, Andrea; Miller, Brian; Cross, Molly; Rowland, Erika
Resource management and operations in central North Dakota: Climate change scenario planning workshop summary November 12-13, 2015, Bismarck, ND
The Scaling Climate Change Adaptation in the Northern Great Plains through Regional Climate Summaries and Local Qualitative-Quantitative Scenario Planning Workshops project synthesizes climate data into 3-5 distinct but plausible climate summaries for the northern Great Plains region; crafts quantitative summaries of these climate futures for two...Fisichelli, Nicholas A.; Shuurman, Gregor; Symstad, Amy; Ray, Andrea; Friedman, Jonathan M.; Miller, Brian; Rowland, Erika
Balanced sediment fluxes in southern California’s Mediterranean-climate zone salt marshes
Salt marsh elevation and geomorphic stability depends on mineral sedimentation. Many Mediterranean-climate salt marshes along southern California, USA coast import sediment during El Niño storm events, but sediment fluxes and mechanisms during dry weather are potentially important for marsh stability. We calculated tidal creek sediment fluxes...Rosencranz, Jordan A.; Ganju, Neil K.; Ambrose, Richard F.; Brosnahan, Sandra M.; Dickhudt, Patrick J.; Guntenspergen, Glenn R.; MacDonald, Glen M.; Takekawa, John Y.; Thorne, Karen M.
Ecosystem vulnerability to climate change in the southeastern United States
Two recent investigations of climate-change vulnerability for 19 terrestrial, aquatic, riparian, and coastal ecosystems of the southeastern United States have identified a number of important considerations, including potential for changes in hydrology, disturbance regimes, and interspecies interactions.Cartwright, Jennifer M.; Costanza, Jennifer
Insular ecosystems of the southeastern United States—A regional synthesis to support biodiversity conservation in a changing climate
In the southeastern United States, insular ecosystems—such as rock outcrops, depression wetlands, high-elevation balds, flood-scoured riparian corridors, and insular prairies and barrens—occupy a small fraction of land area but constitute an important source of regional and global biodiversity, including concentrations of rare and endemic plant...Cartwright, Jennifer M.; Wolfe, William J.
Assessing climate-sensitive ecosystems in the southeastern United States
Climate change impacts ecosystems in many ways, from effects on species to phenology to wildfire dynamics. Assessing the potential vulnerability of ecosystems to future changes in climate is an important first step in prioritizing and planning for conservation. Although assessments of climate change vulnerability commonly are done for species,...Costanza, Jennifer; Beck, Scott; Pyne, Milo; Terando, Adam; Rubino, Matthew; White, Rickie; Collazo, Jaime
Effects of climate change on tidal marshes along a latitudinal gradient in California
Public SummaryThe coastal region of California supports a wealth of ecosystem services including habitat provision for wildlife and fisheries. Tidal marshes, mudflats, and shallow bays within coastal estuaries link marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats, and provide economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Climate change...Thorne, Karen M.; MacDonald, Glen M.; Ambrose, Rich F.; Buffington, Kevin J.; Freeman, Chase M.; Janousek, Christopher N.; Brown, Lauren N.; Holmquist, James R.; Guntenspergen, Glenn R.; Powelson, Katherine W.; Barnard, Patrick L.; Takekawa, John Y.
Reconstructions of Columbia River streamflow from tree-ring chronologies in the Pacific Northwest, USA
We developed Columbia River streamflow reconstructions using a network of existing, new, and updated tree-ring records sensitive to the main climatic factors governing discharge. Reconstruction quality is enhanced by incorporating tree-ring chronologies where high snowpack limits growth, which better represent the contribution of cool-season...Littell, Jeremy; Pederson, Gregory T.; Gray, Stephen T.; Tjoelker, Michael; Hamlet, Alan F.; Woodhouse, Connie A.
The images below show examples of the types of wildlife, habitats, and landscapes our researchers are studying. Our projects help resource managers and decision-makers protect these important animals and places. Learn more about our work and the ways that climate change will impact wildife and ecosystems by browsing through our website or checking out our library of webinar recordings.Explore Our Webinars
This webinar was recorded as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series (hosted in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and FWS National Conservation Training Center). Webinar Summary: Accurate information on the atmospheric evaporative demand (i.e., thirst of the atmosphere) and the land-surface evaporative response (i.e., moisture supply on the land to meet the evaporative demand) is extremely important to assessing water stress on the land surface. In this webinar, the presenters will introduce real-time high resolution (1-10km) monitoring products of atmospheric evaporative demand and land-surface evaporative response models that are currently available to users. They will also discuss the physical relationships between these systems, as well as the potential of the monitoring products discussed above to markedly improve scientists and managers understanding of drought processes (i.e., onset, evolution, persistence and dissipation), and develop a more robust drought early warning framework.
The distribution of water on the landscape influences many ecological functions such as the distribution of vegetation, soil development and the cycle of chemical nutrients. All of these functions are subject to change as a result of variations in the duration of soil water saturation and flow of water through the distributed channel networks of watersheds. The landscape of the Pacific coastal temperate rainforest (PCTR) or the Gulf of Alaska Region are dominated by numerous landforms. The intensity and duration of the cold, wet climate is the driving force that maintains the persistent features such as vegetation and soils on these landforms. Currently, soil moisture serves as an indicator of function, but prediction of soil moisture across the landscape is limited due to the lack of quantitative assessment of the distribution of groundwater in the PCTR. The goal of this research was to establish a spatially explicit soil moisture map and a groundwater prediction model for a portion of the Gulf of Alaskan drainage basin.
The webinar was recorded as a part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series, hosted by USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center.
This webinar presentation was conducted as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series, hosted in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center. Webinar Description: Drought imposes many tangible impacts on human food and water supplies, but the effects of drought can actually go much deeper. Long periods without rainfall can alter the delicate balance of natural ecosystems and harm many fish and wildlife species. The term “ecological drought” encompasses and emphasizes these environmental consequences (including losses in plant growth, increases in fire and insect outbreaks, altered rates of carbon, nutrient, and water cycling, and local species extinctions). Scientists anticipate that the frequency of ecological drought in many areas across the country will increase in the future as temperatures rise and precipitation patterns become more variable. However, very little information is currently known about the magnitude or persistence of potential impacts. The Climate Science Centers and NCCWSC, along with a number of partners, are actively working to understand the regional effects of ecological drought, identify potential threats to valued resources, and prioritize research efforts that consider potential drought effects on ecological systems. View the webinar recording to learn more about the science and impacts of ecological drought!
Approximately 25 to 50 percent of a living tree is made up of water, depending on the species and time of year. The water stored in trees has previously been considered just a minor part of the water cycle, but a study by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists with support from the DOI Alaska Climate Science Center shows otherwise. Their research is the first to show that the uptake of snowmelt water by deciduous trees represents a large and previously overlooked aspect of the water balance in boreal watersheds. Calculating the amount of water stored by deciduous trees is important. The area occupied by deciduous trees in the boreal forest (or snow forest) is expected to increase 1 to 15 percent by the end of this century, and the absorption of snowmelt could also then increase. Quantifying tree water storage is important for understanding hydrology, tree response to drought and the related factors of tree water use, soil moisture and climate. Watch the webinar recording to learn more about the methodology and findings from this project! This webinar was conducted as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series held in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center.
Jordan Pond, a mountain lake in Acadia National Park formed by a glacier and known for its clear waters. In the distance are two small peaks known as “The Bubbles”. Alex Bryan, a climatologist with the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center (managed by USGS) is implementing scenario planning techniques to help Acadia National Park identify potential future climate conditions, enabling managers to start planning for how to best protect the park's resources now.
Waterfall Bridge is one of Acadia National Park's 16 historic stone bridges, located along the carriage road network. Each bridge has unique features, specifically designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Alex Bryan, a climatologist with the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center (managed by USGS) is implementing scenario planning techniques to help Acadia National Park identify potential future climate conditions, enabling managers to start planning for how to best protect the park's resources, like this historic bridge, now.
Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard. Between October and March, it is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States. Alex Bryan, a climatologist with the DOI Northeast Climate Science Center (managed by USGS) is implementing scenario planning techniques to help Acadia National Park identify potential future climate conditions, enabling managers to start planning for how to best protect the park's resources now.
This webinar was conducted as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series, co-hosted by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center. Webinar Description: One-half of North American imperiled species live in subterranean habitats, which largely are associated with karst (a type of landscape underlain by limestone that has been eroded over time, producing caves, sinkholes, towers and other formations). Further, karst aquifers provide a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of climate change on groundwater at timescales of human interest because these aquifers exhibit large variability in hydrologic responses, such as springflow (i.e. groundwater discharge) and water-table level (i.e. level below which the ground is completely saturated with water), at short timescales. By linking a global climate, regional climate, and hydrologic model, researchers can obtain input for a tool to measure species vulnerability. Modifying the tool to explicitly incorporate hydrologic factors such as spring flow and water-table level brings us a step closer to a more realistic assessment of species vulnerability in karst settings. This research initiative is supported by the South Central Climate Science Center through the project, Karst and Climate Change: Understanding Linkages Between Climate, Water Resources, and Ecosystems.
Interviews with staff at Point Reyes National Seashore tell how this National Park Service unit uses USGS science to educate visitors, and manage the park.
This webinar was conducted as part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar series, hosted in partnership by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the FWS National Conservation Training Center.
Webinar Summary: Frameworks for evaluating the vulnerability of multiple species to decline or extinction are increasingly needed by state and local agencies that are tasked with managing many species at once. USGS researchers in the Northwestern U.S. are looking at the “sensitivity” of wildlife species to climate change, which is a fundamental component of vulnerability, for freshwater fishes, amphibians, and reptiles native to the state of Oregon. They have evaluated species-level data across a large spectrum of geographic range sizes and climate sensitivity.
Their results suggest that a combination of classifications based on species’ range sizes (the area they occupy) and their traits (e.g., body size, generation time, and investment in offspring) offer a promising foundation for regional multispecies conservation planning, particularly for species researchers know little about. Specifically, this framework can help identify focal species for monitoring and highlight priority species for which exposure to climate change and other threats should be assessed.
Watch the webinar to hear from Meryl Mims about this project and the research findings! Meryl is a USGS Mendenhall Fellow contributing to science research at the Climate Science Centers. Meryl works closely with Jason Dunham, a researcher supported by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.
Columbia River Gorge near The Dalles, Oregon, May 2016
The USGS conducts landscape science to help understand what factors are involved in landscape change and how those factors influence the patterns and changes happening in a landscape.
Crane Prairie Reservoir Marshland.
The USGS conducts landscape science to help understand what factors are involved in landscape change and how those factors influence the patterns and changes happening in a landscape.
Hybridization, or the interbreeding of species, is increasing between native and invasive trout across the northern Rocky Mountains, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.
Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to transform wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world within the century, a new study from the USGS and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley concludes.
Hundreds of articles have been written about the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, at Indonesia’s Mt. Tambora just over 200 years ago. But for a small group of New England-based researchers, one more Tambora story needed to be told, one related to its catastrophic effects in the Gulf of Maine that may carry lessons for intertwined human-natural systems facing climate change today.
New USGS-led research shows that permafrost loss due to a rapidly warming Alaska is leading to significant changes in the freshwater chemistry and hydrology of Alaska’s Yukon River Basin with potential global climate implications. Such permafrost degradation is already fundamentally transforming the way that high-latitude, Northern Hemisphere ecosystems function.
The Interior Department’s Climate Science Centers, managed by USGS, are helping the NPS pinpoint the specific impacts of climate change on parks and their cultural and natural resources. Doing so will help managers answer a critical question: which resources will require human intervention to ensure their continued existence?
The Interior Department’s Climate Science Centers, managed by USGS, are helping the National Park Service pinpoint the specific impacts of climate change on parks and their cultural and natural resources. Doing so will help managers answer a critical question: which resources will require human intervention to ensure their continued existence?
Plan also addresses other rangeland threats
A recent study looks at the impact of climate change on certain fish in Wisconsin lakes.
Climate Science Center Offers Semester-Long Course
“From the mountains to the coast, the southeastern U.S. contains ecosystems that harbor incredible biodiversity. Many of those ecosystems are already highly at risk from urbanization and other human land-use change. Identifying the ecosystems at risk from climate change will help inform conservation and management to ensure we don’t lose that biodiversity.” (Jennifer Constanza, report author)
Natural and cultural areas that will remain similar to what they are today -- despite climate change -- need to be identified, managed and conserved as “refugia” for at-risk species, according to a study published today in PLOS One. The study sets out, for the first time, specific steps to help identify and manage these more resilient and climate-stable havens for plants, animals and fishes.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists will present their research at the Ecological Society of America meeting from Aug. 7-12, 2016, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The theme is "Novel Ecosystems in the Anthropocene."