Climate Adaptation Strategies in Fish and Wildlife Management

Climate change is a pervasive and growing threat to fish and wildlife around the globe. While fish and wildlife management has traditionally focused on maintaining or restoring historical conditions, these goals and strategies may no longer be realistic or effective as climate changes. Instead, highly adaptive, flexible,  and large-scale approaches will be needed to prepare for and adapt to anticipated changes. In this symposium, we will review the challenges and potential opportunities afforded by a range of climate adaptation strategies for effective fish and wildlife management in the face of climate change. Topics will include the identification and management of climate change refugia; responses to and management of invasive species under changing climate conditions; and climate adaptation solutions informed by genetic diversity and evolutionary adaptive capacity. Presentations will include a summary of each climate adaptation strategy and how it is implemented; an assessment of the strategy’s scientific foundation; examples of existing implementation efforts; and a discussion of the strategy’s limitations and uncertainties. We will also discuss how natural resource management agencies are managing fish and wildlife in the face of climate change. Talks will be followed by a panel discussion with an opportunity for questions from the audience.

8:00AM Climate Change Refugia for the Conservation of Fish and Wildlife
  Toni Lyn Morelli
Scientists and natural resource managers are increasingly working together to identify ways to reduce the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. One of the primary climate adaptation tactics is the conservation of climate change refugia, areas that remain relatively buffered from contemporary climate change over time and enable persistence of valued physical, ecological, and socio-cultural resources. Frameworks have been laid out for how to incorporate refugia into climate change adaptation. Recent advances are making refugia identification more realistic and relevant by considering many other components of global change biology including hydrologic change, disturbance (fire, drought, pests/pathogens), population demographics and genetics, interspecies interactions, dispersal and migration, and adaptive responses to changing environmental conditions. Novel research tools, including new methods for modeling habitat suitability and vulnerability to climate change, use of remote sensing data to map areas resistant to disturbance, and greater integration of biophysical and ecological data, are developing. This presentation will briefly synthesize these newest developments and then highlight examples from around North America, including in freshwater, desert, forest, and boreal ecosystems, showing how climate change refugia identification has led to improved conservation on the ground. Translation ecology and knowledge coproduction approaches, along with citizen science, are bringing the complex and seemingly abstract science of refugia to inform and improve natural resource decisions related to land protection, invasive species treatment, recreation management, and a host of other conservation challenges.
8:20AM Trout in Hot Water? Understanding Climate Change Effects on Native Salmonids for Climate Adaptation in the Northern Rockies
  Clint Muhlfeld
Trout are one of the most culturally, economically, and ecologically important taxonomic groups of freshwater fishes worldwide. Despite their importance as societal icons and as indicators of biodiversity, many of the world’s trout species and lineages are endangered and some require immediate conservation efforts to reverse their precarious decline. Here, we combine long-term biological monitoring data with high-resolution climate predictions to evaluate how climate change and other stressors influence the vulnerability of native trout for climate adaptation in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA and Canada. Climate warming is exacerbating interactions between native cutthroat trout and non-native rainbow trout through invasive hybridization, which could spell genomic extinction for many populations. Bull trout populations are generally depressed, more variable, and declining where spawning and rearing habitat is limited, invasive species and land use are prevalent, and stream temperatures are highest. Widespread imperilment of trout reflects numerous human activities that are acting in synergy with climate change to further endanger populations, a pattern that will be intensified in coming decades as global temperatures continue to rise. Progressive conservation approaches–including restoring habitat diversity, reducing invasive species, and translocation of imperiled populations–are being implemented to reverse these declines and to protect ecological and genetic diversity, which are critical for long-term resiliency, viability, and adaptation in the face of rapid environmental change.
8:40AM Developing New Strategies Against Invasive Species in the Anthropocene
  Jeff Burgett
The current Anthropocene epoch is characterized by accelerating, human-driven global changes that affect biodiversity, such as increasing atmospheric CO2, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and widespread introductions of non-native species. Invasive, non-native species have caused massive loss of biodiversity on oceanic islands such as the Hawaiian archipelago, and programs that manage invasives are crucial to island conservation. Because oceanic islands have characteristics such as isolation, sensitive biotas, small landscapes and microclimates, they offer a window on the interaction of climate change and invasive species management. Two examples from Hawai’i will illustrate how managers are using climate projections, isolation, and new methods for control of invasive species to improve the future for native wildlife. First, Hawaiian forest birds are exposed to mosquito-borne disease driven by rising temperatures. Innovative management approaches, including translocation of island endemics and landscape-scale control of mosquitoes, are being planned to prevent extinctions. Second, island-wide pest eradications and mechanical barriers are being deployed to control invasive predators of seabirds losing habitat to sea level rise. Climate change will shift distributions of both native and non-native species, and affect their interactions. To avoid invasives amplifying climate impacts on biodiversity, management of protected areas and native species needs to be integrated with revised and expanded invasive species control strategies. These island examples, and recent research, suggest that in continental systems conservation planners may need to reevaluate the value of habitat connectivity, consider assisted colonization, explore next-generation biocontrol, and emphasize surveillance and localized eradication of incipient invaders.
9:00AM Climate-Informed Fisheries Management: Challenges and Applications in Changing Seas
  Roger Griffis
Climate-related changes in ocean ecosystems are already affecting the nation’s valuable marine fisheries and the many people who depend on them. Ocean warming, deoxygenation and acidification are affecting the distribution and abundance of marine species in many regions. There is a lot at risk: U.S. marine fisheries annually support over $200 billion in economic activity and 1.7 million jobs. And climate-related changes in ocean ecosystems are expected to increase with continued changes in the planet’s climate system. The pace and scale of these changes can present significant challenges for sustainable fisheries management. For example, as species distributions shift, when and how should fisheries managers adjust allocations of fish catch among different groups? As the productivity of species and ecosystems change, how and when should managers adjust fisheries catch levels to avoid over-fishing? How can fisheries managers help avoid negative interactions between target and non-target species with changing ocean conditions? Can we evaluate alternative fishery management strategies under projected future ocean conditions to help inform current and future management options? This presentation will explore these challenges and efforts to advance climate-informed management of the nation’s marine fisheries.
9:20AM Climate Change Adaptation Strategies in the Greater Yellowstone Area
  Ann Rodman
9:40AM Panel Discussion

Organizers: Madeleine A. Rubenstein, Sarah Weiskopf, T. Douglas Beard

Location: Reno-Sparks CC Date: September 30, 2019 Time: 8:00 am - 9:40 am