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Ecological Impact

Overview of the Ecological Impacts Foundational Science Area
Lead: Dr. Andrew Hansen, Montana State University

Climate drivers are a fundamental research component for the CSCs, but for most management issues, climate itself is often not the primary concern. Land managers are often more worried about animal populations or ecosystem services than they are about changes or trends in annual average temperature or precipitation. Despite this, climate drivers are linked to the conservation targets of concern because of the direct impact that changes in climate have one ecosystems. This foundational research area seeks to understand and quantify that linkage through ecological response models.

Our work on ecolofical impacts looks to leverage ongoing research and expertise in ecological response models where translational climate analysis can advance that work. It is important for the ecological response modeling to also respect the nonstationary nature of climate drivers and consider these drivers when constructing climate derivatives as input into the ecological response models.

The impacts research area incorporates vulnerability to different exposure and sensitivity of system components to climate effects and drivers to address the nature of the vulnerability. It builds on current observations available in the region and utilizes an ensemble of models to enhance the understanding of vulnerability to natural and cultural resources. The vulnerability framework provides an analytical process to identify exposures and sensitivities of a system together, as well as separate parts of the system. Analysis of vulnerability incorporates regional and temporal aspects to inform managers and researchers about interactions between factors and temporal dimensions of these interactions.

Actvities falling under the Ecological Impacts Foundational Science Area include: 

  • Habitat integrity factors that influence the productivity and extent of these habitats across various changing environmental conditions,
  • Species-level sensitivity of physiological or population limits that would affect the success of the species, 
  • Ecosystem service changes that would alter management considerations of these resources, and
  • The ecological-response-modeling component of the ReVAMP, which will link state-of-the-science understanding of climate with resource management decision support tools 

FY15 Ecological Impacts Proposal

Montana State University Vegetation Modeling Workshop Report

2012 study: Assessing the Vulnerability of Vegetation to Future Climate in the North Central U.S.

More info can be found on the NCCWSC project page