National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center

Reston, VA, United States

National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center

Reston, VA, United States
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News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Migratory mule deer in Wyoming closely time their movements to track the spring green-up, providing evidence of an underappreciated foraging benefit of migration, according to a new study from a team of researchers led by University of Wyoming and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists at the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Biologists have long understood that migration corridors are important for enabling animals to move between winter and summer ranges, but corridors themselves were not actually understood as habitat. However, this new research has documented that these economically and ecologically important game animals are not just moving from low-elevation winter range to high-elevation summer range. Rather, the daily movements of migratory mule deer are closely timed to track spring green-up, known as "surfing the green wave." The new results indicate deer's surfing includes stopping over at various points along the way, prolonging the animals' exposure to high-quality forage along the entire migration route. The findings are reported in a paper released to the public last week. The paper will be published in the June issue of the scientific journal Ecology Letters. "When we looked at the deer movement data and aligned it with the timing of spring green-up at each location, we were amazed," says Matt Kauffman, director of the Wyoming Migration Initiative, UW professor and USGS researcher at the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. "These deer have an almost uncanny ability to keep pace with the spring timing of the greening. And that allows them to get the highest quality forage, when plants are first greening up. Their movements fit the predictions of the green wave hypothesis almost perfectly." The researchers gathered movement data from 99 adult female mule deer -- ranging from 2-12 years of age -- which migrate north in spring along the Wyoming Range, a productive mountain range in western Wyoming that is the southern extent of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. The deer were fitted with GPS tracking collars that logged their locations every 1-5 hours. For three years, daily movements of deer during the spring migration were matched with dynamic maps (from remote sensing imagery) to determine how closely each deer's movements overlapped with the timing of early spring green-up, when the nutritional value of vegetation peaks. All deer showed evidence of green-wave surfing, and roughly one third of them perfectly matched their movements to the timing of green-up. Little is known about what makes one deer surf well and another surf poorly. The study found that the degree to which mule deer surfed the green wave along their migratory routes was unrelated to their age or body condition. Instead, how well deer surfed depended on the manner in which the spring green-up spread across the landscape. Mule deer surfed better when their migration routes had a longer green-up period, a more rapid rate of green-up, and when the timing of green-up progressed consecutively from winter to summer range. The researchers have dubbed this characterization of the green-up pattern the "greenscape." A route's greenscape was the primary factor determining how well individual deer surfed the green wave. "Viewing migration as a movement strategy driven by these resource waves challenges traditional concepts of migration," says Ellen Aikens, lead author and doctoral researcher in the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. "This research shows that management and future studies must consider how habitat along the migratory corridor influences movement and foraging as mule deer migrate." "The sophisticated analysis used here sets a new standard for work on migration of large herbivores. It is a very impressive coupling of extensive movement data with satellite data," says Atle Mysterud, professor at the University of Oslo. "It allows a new level of detail in separating out the behavioral and the landscape part of green-wave surfing." The study was conducted in collaboration with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, which is charged with managing Wyoming's big game migration corridors. The work is part of ongoing research that seeks to identify and map Wyoming's big-game migrations and understand the influence of development and climate change on this important behavior. It is funded, in part, by the USGS through the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative and the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The research was also supported by several sportsmen's groups in Wyoming and other state and federal agencies in the region. You can follow Wyoming's big-game herds during their spring migration. Check out the Wyoming Migration Initiative's Facebook page for weekly maps and updates.


Cooke S.J.,Carleton University | Lapointe N.W.R.,Carleton University | Martins E.G.,Carleton University | Martins E.G.,Simon Fraser University | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Fish Biology | Year: 2013

Generating awareness of environmental conservation issues among the public is essential if there is an expectation of them to alter their behaviour, facilitate informed decisions and engage governments or regulatory authorities to take action. There are, however, exceedingly few public engagement success stories related to inland fishes and fisheries policy and resource allocation decisions. Inland aquatic resources and their associated fisheries provide employment, recreation, culture and, in developing regions, a considerable proportion of human nutrition and food security. Freshwater fishes are incredibly diverse but are among the most endangered organisms globally. Many threats to inland fisheries are driven largely by externalities to inland fisheries. The purpose of this paper is to draw attention to the role and plight of inland fishes and fisheries, and the need to generate the public and political will necessary to promote meaningful conservation. With this paper, the extent to which the scientific and environmental management communities have failed to engage the public in issues related to inland fishes and fisheries is characterized. Next, the barriers or factors that serve as the basis for the problem with public engagement are identified. The paper concludes by identifying strategies, including those focused on environmental education initiatives, for building the public and political will necessary to promote meaningful conservation of inland fishes and fisheries in developed and developing countries. Scientists, environmental managers, non-governmental organizations, politicians, regulatory authorities and the media all have important roles to play in overcoming challenges to inland fisheries. Failure to engage the public in freshwater conservation and management issues will impede efforts to stem the loss of freshwater habitats, fisheries and aquatic biodiversity. Thankfully, there are opportunities to learn from success stories related to other environmental issues and initiatives that have been successful in marine fish conservation. © 2013 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.


Arlinghaus R.,Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries | Arlinghaus R.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Douglas Beard T.,National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center | Cooke S.J.,Carleton University | Cowx I.G.,University of Hull
Fisheries | Year: 2012

Recreational fishing constitutes the dominant or sole use of many fish stocks, particularly in freshwater ecosystems in Western industrialized countries. However, despite their social and economic importance, recreational fisheries are generally guided by local or regional norms and standards, with few comprehensive policy and development frameworks existing across jurisdictions. We argue that adoption of a recently developed Global Code of Practice (CoP) for Recreational Fisheries can provide benefits for moving recreational fisheries toward sustainability on a global scale. The CoP is a voluntary document, specifically framed toward recreational fisheries practices and issues, thereby complementing and extending the United Nation's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries by the Food and Agricultural Organization. The CoP for Recreational Fisheries describes the minimum standards of environmentally friendly, ethically appropriate, and-depending on local situations-socially acceptable recreational fishing and its management. Although many, if not all, of the provisions presented in the CoP are already addressed through national fisheries legislation and state-based fisheries management regulations in North America, adopting a common framework for best practices in recreational fisheries across multiple jurisdictions would further promote their long-term viability in the face of interjurisdictional angler movements and some expanding threats to the activity related to shifting sociopolitical norms.


Cooke S.J.,Carleton University | Allison E.H.,University of Washington | Beard T.D.,National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center | Arlinghaus R.,Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries | And 11 more authors.
Ambio | Year: 2016

At present, inland fisheries are not often a national or regional governance priority and as a result, inland capture fisheries are undervalued and largely overlooked. As such they are threatened in both developing and developed countries. Indeed, due to lack of reliable data, inland fisheries have never been part of any high profile global fisheries assessment and are notably absent from the Sustainable Development Goals. The general public and policy makers are largely ignorant of the plight of freshwater ecosystems and the fish they support, as well as the ecosystem services generated by inland fisheries. This ignorance is particularly salient given that the current emphasis on the food-water-energy nexus often fails to include the important role that inland fish and fisheries play in food security and supporting livelihoods in low-income food deficit countries. Developing countries in Africa and Asia produce about 11 million tonnes of inland fish annually, 90 % of the global total. The role of inland fisheries goes beyond just kilocalories; fish provide important micronutrients and essentially fatty acids. In some regions, inland recreational fisheries are important, generating much wealth and supporting livelihoods. The following three key recommendations are necessary for action if inland fisheries are to become a part of the food-water-energy discussion: invest in improved valuation and assessment methods, build better methods to effectively govern inland fisheries (requires capacity building and incentives), and develop approaches to managing waters across sectors and scales. Moreover, if inland fisheries are recognized as important to food security, livelihoods, and human well-being, they can be more easily incorporated in regional, national, and global policies and agreements on water issues. Through these approaches, inland fisheries can be better evaluated and be more fully recognized in broader water resource and aquatic ecosystem planning and decision-making frameworks, enhancing their value and sustainability for the future. © 2016 Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences


PubMed | Imperial College London, University of Washington, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, University of Florida and 7 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Ambio | Year: 2016

At present, inland fisheries are not often a national or regional governance priority and as a result, inland capture fisheries are undervalued and largely overlooked. As such they are threatened in both developing and developed countries. Indeed, due to lack of reliable data, inland fisheries have never been part of any high profile global fisheries assessment and are notably absent from the Sustainable Development Goals. The general public and policy makers are largely ignorant of the plight of freshwater ecosystems and the fish they support, as well as the ecosystem services generated by inland fisheries. This ignorance is particularly salient given that the current emphasis on the food-water-energy nexus often fails to include the important role that inland fish and fisheries play in food security and supporting livelihoods in low-income food deficit countries. Developing countries in Africa and Asia produce about 11 million tonnes of inland fish annually, 90 % of the global total. The role of inland fisheries goes beyond just kilocalories; fish provide important micronutrients and essentially fatty acids. In some regions, inland recreational fisheries are important, generating much wealth and supporting livelihoods. The following three key recommendations are necessary for action if inland fisheries are to become a part of the food-water-energy discussion: invest in improved valuation and assessment methods, build better methods to effectively govern inland fisheries (requires capacity building and incentives), and develop approaches to managing waters across sectors and scales. Moreover, if inland fisheries are recognized as important to food security, livelihoods, and human well-being, they can be more easily incorporated in regional, national, and global policies and agreements on water issues. Through these approaches, inland fisheries can be better evaluated and be more fully recognized in broader water resource and aquatic ecosystem planning and decision-making frameworks, enhancing their value and sustainability for the future.


PubMed | Smith-Root, Inc., Clemson University, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, Louisiana State University and Auburn University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

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 publication on Web of Science citation rates of 1,599 primary research articles from 20 ecology journals published from 2012-2014. We found a strong positive relationship between Twitter activity (i.e., the number of unique tweets about an article) and number of citations. Twitter activity was a more important predictor of citation rates than 5-year journal impact factor. Moreover, Twitter activity was not driven by journal impact factor; the highest-impact journals were not necessarily the most discussed online. The effect of Twitter activity was only about a fifth as strong as time since publication; accounting for this confounding factor was critical for estimating the true effects of Twitter use. Articles in impactful journals can become heavily cited, but articles in journals with lower impact factors can generate considerable Twitter activity and also become heavily cited. Authors may benefit from establishing a strong social media presence, but should not expect research to become highly cited solely through social media promotion. Our research demonstrates that altmetrics and traditional metrics can be closely related, but not identical. We suggest that both altmetrics and traditional citation rates can be useful metrics of research impact.


Dr. Paul Krushelnycky of the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences and his co-authors researched the effects of changes in temperature, precipitation and solar radiation on populations of silverswords, using 80 years of data records. The team found that Haleakalā silversword numbers have declined about 60% since 1990 and that this decline coincides with lower rainfall in the area, which may be due in part to increased occurrences of trade wind inversion. "This is important because it shows the potential complexity of changing climate conditions and responses of species to these changes," said Krushelnycky. The trade wind inversion (TWI) forms when rising air is impeded by dry descending air originating near the equator. This caps the vertical formation of clouds, resulting in the familiar cloud layer that forms on the upper slopes of Hawaii's higher mountains. The TWI occurs most days, and on Haleakalā it usually holds the cloud layer just below where the silverswords reside, typically keeping them in sunny and dry conditions. When this TWI pattern is disrupted, clouds, fog and rainfall are able reach the higher altitudes, bringing water to the plants and providing shade, which slows evaporation and allows the plants to retain more of that moisture. Breaks in the TWI therefore appear necessary for the silverswords. However, scientists have noted that this disruption of the TWI has now been happening less often, creating drier conditions above the inversion layer. This moisture reduction has been especially damaging to the silverswords in the lower portion of their range, where the habitat is wetter, and unfortunately this pattern may persist. Climate projections anticipate that the TWI may occur more consistently, with fewer disruptions, and may even start occurring at lower elevations. Some projections also predict that rainfall will lessen on the upper reaches of Haleakalā, while others predict wetter future conditions. Krushelycky emphasized that there may be some hope for the threatened silversword: "The long-term data set shows that the silversword population can rebound and grow quite quickly, as it did before when it was protected from threats." The population had undergone a large decline in the early decades of the twentieth century due to unrestricted grazing of goats and cattle, along with people disrupting and gathering the plants. But committed protection and management by the Haleakalā National Park allowed the plants to return to their former glory…until the latest threat from climate change. "Rainfall was higher then," Krushelnycky said of the previous rebound. "This implies that the future health of this species will probably depend on a return to wetter conditions." The full article, "Change in trade wind inversion frequency implicated in the decline of an alpine plant," may be found here. This work was supported by the Department of Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, which is managed by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The center is one of eight that provides scientific information to help natural resource managers respond effectively to climate change. This study was also supported by the the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative, (PICCC), a conservation alliance assisting those who manage native species, island ecosystems, and key cultural resources in adapting their management to climate change. The PICCC is one of 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives with the vision of creating landscapes capable of sustaining natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. More information: Paul D. Krushelnycky et al. Change in trade wind inversion frequency implicated in the decline of an alpine plant, Climate Change Responses (2016). DOI: 10.1186/s40665-016-0015-2


Youn S.-J.,Michigan State University | Taylor W.W.,Michigan State University | Lynch A.J.,National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center | Cowx I.G.,University of Hull | And 3 more authors.
Global Food Security | Year: 2014

Inland fish and fisheries play important roles in ensuring global food security. They provide a crucial source of animal protein and essential micronutrients for local communities, especially in the developing world. Data concerning fisheries production and consumption of freshwater fish are generally inadequately assessed, often leading decision makers to undervalue their importance. Modification of inland waterways for alternative uses of freshwater (particularly dams for hydropower and water diversions for human use) negatively impacts the productivity of inland fisheries for food security at local and regional levels. This paper highlights the importance of inland fisheries to global food security, the challenges they face due to competing demands for freshwater, and possible solutions. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

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