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Bozeman, MT, United States

Towler E.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | Saab V.A.,Rocky Research | Sojda R.S.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Dickinson K.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2012

Given the projected threat that climate change poses to biodiversity, the need for proactive response efforts is clear. However, integrating uncertain climate change information into conservation planning is challenging, and more explicit guidance is needed. To this end, this article provides a specific example of how a risk-based approach can be used to incorporate a species' response to climate into conservation decisions. This is shown by taking advantage of species' response (i.e., impact) models that have been developed for a well-studied bird species of conservation concern. Specifically, we examine the current and potential impact of climate on nest survival of the Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) in two different habitats. To address climate uncertainty, climate scenarios are developed by manipulating historical weather observations to create ensembles (i.e., multiple sequences of daily weather) that reflect historical variability and potential climate change. These ensembles allow for a probabilistic evaluation of the risk posed to Lewis's Woodpecker nest survival and are used in two demographic analyses. First, the relative value of each habitat is compared in terms of nest survival, and second, the likelihood of exceeding a critical population threshold is examined. By embedding the analyses in a risk framework, we show how management choices can be made to be commensurate with a defined level of acceptable risk. The results can be used to inform habitat prioritization and are discussed in the context of an economic framework for evaluating tradeoffs between management alternatives. © The Author(s) 2012. Source

Gray B.R.,U.S. Geological Survey | Ray A.M.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Rogala J.T.,U.S. Geological Survey | Holland M.D.,University of Minnesota | Houser J.N.,U.S. Geological Survey
Journal of Aquatic Plant Management | Year: 2012

This study examined how free-floating macrophyte cover (principally composed of duckweeds [Lemna spp.]) and prevalence of floating filamentous algal mats (metaphyton) varied within and among lakes within three reaches of the Upper Mississippi River. Data were collected using standard sampling approaches over the period 1998 to 2008. Duckweed cover varied primarily within and among lakes; in comparison filamentous algae prevalence varied primarily among lakes and lake-years. Duckweed cover increased with submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) abundance at within-lake and among-lake-year scales; in comparison, filamentous algae prevalence increased with SAV abundance at within-lake, among-lake and year scales. Given adjustment for SAV, filamentous algae prevalence decreased with increasing lake connectivity but was not statistically associated with annual changes in mean river discharge; duckweed cover was not associated with either connectivity or discharge. Documenting the relatively high levels of variation within lakes and of year-to-year variation in lake means improves our understanding of the dynamic nature of aquatic plant and algal communities in the Upper Mississippi River and will assist efforts to manage or control aquatic plants and nuisance algae in this region. In particular, this work explicitly characterizes sources of variability in free-floating macrophyte cover and filamentous algae prevalence, and highlights how this variation may complicate efforts to evaluate the short-term success of management and control efforts. Source

Wolken J.M.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Hollingsworth T.N.,Pacific University in Oregon | Rupp T.S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Chapin F.S.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | And 18 more authors.
Ecosphere | Year: 2014

The structure and function of Alaska's forests have changed significantly in response to a changing climate, including alterations in species composition and climate feedbacks (e.g., carbon, radiation budgets) that have important regional societal consequences and human feedbacks to forest ecosystems. In this paper we present the first comprehensive synthesis of climate-change impacts on all forested ecosystems of Alaska, highlighting changes in the most critical biophysical factors of each region. We developed a conceptual framework describing climate drivers, biophysical factors and types of change to illustrate how the biophysical and social subsystems of Alaskan forests interact and respond directly and indirectly to a changing climate.We then identify the regional and global implications to the climate system and associated socio-economic impacts, as presented in the current literature. Projections of temperature and precipitation suggest wildfire will continue to be the dominant biophysical factor in the Interior-boreal forest, leading to shifts from conifer- to deciduous-dominated forests. Based on existing research, projected increases in temperature in the Southcentral- and Kenai-boreal forests will likely increase the frequency and severity of insect outbreaks and associated wildfires, and increase the probability of establishment by invasive plant species. In the Coastal-temperate forest region snow and ice is regarded as the dominant biophysical factor. With continued warming, hydrologic changes related to more rapidly melting glaciers and rising elevation of the winter snowline will alter discharge in many rivers, which will have important consequences for terrestrial and marine ecosystem productivity. These climate-related changes will affect plant species distribution and wildlife habitat, which have regional societal consequences, and trace-gas emissions and radiation budgets, which are globally important. Our conceptual framework facilitates assessment of current and future consequences of a changing climate, emphasizes regional differences in biophysical factors, and points to linkages that may exist but that currently lack supporting research. The framework also serves as a visual tool for resource managers and policy makers to develop regional and global management strategies and to inform policies related to climate mitigation and adaptation. © 2011 Wolken et al. Source

Cross P.C.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Heisey D.M.,National Wildlife Health Center | Ebinger M.R.,Montana State University | Brennan A.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Brennan A.,Montana State University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

The relationship between host density and parasite transmission is central to the effectiveness of many disease management strategies. Few studies, however, have empirically estimated this relationship particularly in large mammals. We applied hierarchical Bayesian methods to a 19-year dataset of over 6400 brucellosis tests of adult female elk (Cervus elaphus) in northwestern Wyoming. Management captures that occurred from January to March were over two times more likely to be seropositive than hunted elk that were killed in September to December, while accounting for site and year effects. Areas with supplemental feeding grounds for elk had higher seroprevalence in 1991 than other regions, but by 2009 many areas distant from the feeding grounds were of comparable seroprevalence. The increases in brucellosis seroprevalence were correlated with elk densities at the elk management unit, or hunt area, scale (mean 2070 km2; range = [95-10237]). The data, however, could not differentiate among linear and non-linear effects of host density. Therefore, control efforts that focus on reducing elk densities at a broad spatial scale were only weakly supported. Additional research on how a few, large groups within a region may be driving disease dynamics is needed for more targeted and effective management interventions. Brucellosis appears to be expanding its range into new regions and elk populations, which is likely to further complicate the United States brucellosis eradication program. This study is an example of how the dynamics of host populations can affect their ability to serve as disease reservoirs. Source

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