The Conservation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

Previous Highlights

Please note:

This page contains previous stories from the Clearinghouse’s Home & Highlights webpage. Each link will be kept here until the information is integrated into the site; if you cannot find something you saw here before, try the Search function.

Worldwide vegetation shifts linked to climate change

From EESI’s Climate Change News: An article to be published in Global Ecology and Biogeography “has found that climate change is linked to major vegetation shifts worldwide. A meta-analysis which incorporated data from over 200 field studies revealed that one-tenth to one-half of global land may be highly to very highly vulnerable to climate change..... This shift in vegetation is occurring towards the poles and the equator and up to higher altitudes.... In addition to the increased potential for wildfires is the increased risk of extinction for species which have difficulty adapting to new conditions or cannot move to higher elevations. It also has negative repercussions for human populations who have reduced access to wood for fire and cooking and have reduced access to water during the summer because snowpack has been melting.” Entitled “Global patterns in the vulnerability of ecosystems to vegetation shifts due to climate change,” the article is available for “early view”; although a free pdf is unavailable, see the study abstract. Stories can be found at Science Daily, UC Berkeley Press Release, and The Daily Californian.

Climate change in lead-up to the Biodiversity Convention’s October summit

The 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held in Nagoya, Japan this coming October. According to agenda §5.6 “biodiversity and climate change" will be one of six “issues for in-depth consideration.” Leading up to the conference were two meetings in Nairobi in May:

  1. 1. The 14th meeting of the the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), from May 10-21, which issued a Report of the Second Meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Biodiversity and Climate Change. After an introduction regarding the goals of the “AHTEG,” the report covers the following “key messages”:

  2. A.Biodiversity and climate change interactions

  3. B.Impacts of climate change on biodiversity

  4. C.Reducing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity

  5. D.Ecosystem-based adaptation

  6. E.Implications of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and other land-use management activities on biodiversity and climate change mitigation

  7. F.Impacts of adaptation activities on biodiversity

  8. G.Impacts of alternative energy and geo-engineering on biodiversity

  9. H.Valuation and incentive measures

  10. 2. The Working Group on Review of Implementation of the CBD (WGRI), from May 24-28, issued a press release entitled “World governments build consensus on a new biodiversity vision to combat biodiversity loss, alleviate poverty and fight climate change.”

Warming, Acidic Oceans Create 'Double Trouble' for Marine Life

From EESI’s Climate Change News: “On May 20, the European Science Foundation issued a report describing the double threat from climate change in the world’s oceans due to rising ocean temperatures and acidification. The oceans have become 30 percent more acidic in the past 200 years, as they absorbed about 430 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), or approximately one-third of human CO2 emissions, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The CO2 produces carbonic acid in the ocean, which makes it more difficult for calcifying organisms such as corals and shellfish, to produce skeletons.” See the ESF press release (from where an extensive policy briefing can be downloaded), or stories at Reuters and ANI.

Climate change drives lizards to extinction

From EESI’s Climate Change News: “In the May 14 issue of Science, researchers reported that 12 percent of Mexico’s lizard population has been driven to extinction as a result of higher temperatures. Rising temperatures leave lizards unable to spend sufficient time foraging for food, as they have to rest and regulate their body temperature. ‘These lizards need to bask in the sun to warm up, but if it gets too hot they have to retreat into the shade and then they can't hunt for food,’ said lead author Barry Sinervo of the University of California Santa Cruz. Based on these data, researchers used an ‘extinction model’ to predict that 40 percent of all lizard populations globally and 20 percent of all lizard species could become extinct by 2080 if warming continues. As a vital part of the food chain, their reduced populations could impact the viability of others species as well. The researchers ‘deliver a disturbing message,’ biologist Raymond B. Huey of the University of Washington and his colleagues wrote in an editorial accompanying the report. ‘Climate-forced extinctions are not only in the future, but are happening now.’ For additional information see: Los Angeles Times, BBC, San Jose Mercury News, Study Abstract.”

Climate change impacts on N. California Marine Sanctuaries

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has established the cooperative Oceans Climate Initiative, which focuses on the biological impacts of climate change on coastal regions of Northern California. On June 3, 2010, it released the report Climate Change Impacts: Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, which “identifies and synthesizes potential climate change impacts to habitats and biological communities along the north-central California coast.” Involving 16 agencies, organizations, and academic institutions, the report identifies “key issues” as sea level rise, extreme weather events, and increase acidity. See the main website or pdf, and coverage can be found at the San Francisco Chronicle or Marin Independent Journal.

Job opportunity: TNC seeks Climate Adaptation Strategy Leader

See job description at StopDodo.com. Overview: “The Nature Conservancy seeks an experienced leader who will accelerate and expand implementation of climate adaptation strategies that use conservation to help both people and nature adapt to the most significant climate change impacts.  As part of the Conservancy’s Global Climate Change Program, the Climate Adaptation Strategy Leader will set measurable goals for how conservation can best contribute to climate adaptation, manage for results, and coordinate organization-wide efforts to demonstrate, scale-up and leverage high-impact outcomes for people and nature. Addressing climate change is one of four global priorities for The Nature Conservancy....”

Not just extinction: Climate change, small mammals, and community dynamics

The journal Nature recently published an article on the effects of climate change at the end of the Pleistocene on small mammals. Examining fossils from the Samwell Cave in northern California, the authors argue that “even though no small mammals in the local community became extinct, species losses and gains, combined with changes in abundance, caused declines in both the evenness and richness of communities.” They conclude with the warning that “although impending species extinctions have occasioned much concern, changes to community structure and function also important harbingers of imperilled ecosystems.” For coverage, see Nature own summary or stories at Change.org, CNN, Discover Magazine, NYT, redOrbit, Stanford University News, and ScienceDaily. (See also the Science article, “Impact of a century of climate change on small-mammal communities in Yosemite National Park, USA.”)

Biodiversity Convention on climate change

In early May, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) released its “flagship publication,” the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3. While the document contains a 3-page overview of the effects of climate change on biodiversity (pp.56-58), the issue of climate change is integrated throughout its 95 pages. See the homepage for the report or go straight to the pdf. Based on a number of resources, to a large degree the GBO3 summarizes a technical report entitled Biodiversity Scenarios: Projections of 21st century change in biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Again, climate change is integrated throughout this 134 page report.

Atlas of Global Conservation focuses on climate change

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, The Nature Conservancy recently published The Atlas of Global Conservation, a 234-page compendium on conservation issues ranging from particular challenges (e.g., invasive species, trawling, trade, etc.) to broad subject-specific assessments (e.g., of habitats, taxonomic groups, ecosystem services, etc.), all with extensive maps and photography. Much of the book is devoted to climate change topics, treated in various individual sections as well as integrated through much of the text (click tab for Table of Contents). Also see TNC’s website for the book, which provides an online mapping function for marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. Click here for pdf excerpts from the book, or purchase from Amazon or directly from TNC. Both the Washington Post and National Geographic have websites utilizing the book’s data and maps.

“Pika politics”

In February, the Obama Administration declined to list the American pika under the Endangered Species Act. High Country News has published a story on the science behind the listing under the full title: “Pika Politics: What’s the connection between pika populations and climate change? It’s complicated.” The article provides a useful update on both the politics and recent scientific research on the pika. 

International symposium on fisheries & climate change

From April 26-29, the city of Sendai, Japan will host an international symposium on Climate Change Effects on Fish and Fisheries: Forecasting Impacts, Assessing Ecosystem Responses and Evaluating Management Strategies. The symposium is being sponsored by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES), and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The symposium is intended to “provide a forum for scientists and policymakers to discuss the potential impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and our uses of these ecosystems, and to consider the strategies that society can take to be prepared for anticipated impacts.”

TNC web hub on climate change adaptation

For a wide range of resources on climate change adaptation, see The Nature Conservancy’s website: Knowledge Base for Climate Change Adaptation. Although the site is currently in beta, it contains a plethora of materials divided into the following categories: Tools & Methods, Reference Materials, Habitats, Projects, and News Archive. The site is hosted at TNC’s vast collection of resources under ConserveOnline.org.

“Alternative” climate conference in Bolivia

From April 19-22, Bolivia is hosting the “World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.” Focusing on the effects of climate change on indigenous people and indigenous resources, the event has attracted more than 15,000 participants and is being held as a civil society alternative to the Copenhagen Conference last December. For stories on the conference, scroll down on the main page referenced above.

Trans-Australia corridor established partly in response to climate change 

In March, the IUCN reported on the “world's first transcontinental wildlife corridor--stretching 3500 kilometres from the coast of the Northern Territory to the coast of South Australia.” The corridor will be known as the Trans-Australia Eco-Link. For more information, see the Government of South Australia’s NatureLinks webpage, which contains links to maps and a video.

USFWS report on climate change & migratory birds

On March 11, the US Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) released the report, The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change (website or pdf). This is the second such “State of the Birds” report, but whereas the 2009 report focused on “troubling declines of bird populations in the United States,” the 2010 report “presents the first systematic analysis of what may happen to bird populations in each major biome of the United States as a consequence of climate change.” Three of the highlighted points of the report are:

  1. birds in every habitat will be affected by climate change;

  2. marine birds are particularly threatened due to their relatively low reproductive biology, vulnerable roosting sites, and the extent of climate change in marine ecosystems; and

  3. arctic and alpine species also face significant threats.

Partner organizations involved in producing the report were the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Klamath Bird Observatory, National Audubon Society, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, USFWS, US Forest Service, and USGS. See also a US Department of Interior press release, and for press coverage, see AP, AFP, and Mercury News.

Update on “US Fish & Wildlife Service to reorient budget to focus on climate change”

As reported by the Wildlife Management Institute, in response to Congress’s reorientation of the USFWS’s budget toward climate change, the agency held a two-day session in January that “set the stage” for the development of a “National Fish and Wildlife Adaptation Strategy.” The results are available on the USFWS Climate Change Adaptation website (scroll down), including a Draft "Strawman" outline for National Fish and Wildlife Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Accoring to WMI, USFWS “is actively soliciting input to refine the adaptation strategy outline and, ultimately, the strategy itself.” On the budget reorientation, see the February 10 story from the New York Times on: Obama budget retools FWS for Warming World.” The article describes a significant overhaul in Obama Administration’s 2011 budget for the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the crux of the issue being that certain extant responsibilities--including the listing of new species and supervision of National Wildlife Refuges--will be deemphasized in favor of a focus on “redirecting cash and personnel toward climate research and acquisition of land that would become corridors for wildlife moving as temperatures rise and habitat changes.” The article goes on to examine differing perspectives within the conservation community on the changes within USFWS.

New report on climate and protected areas

Led by WWF, a group of conservation, development, and financial institutions has released the 2010 report Natural solutions: Protected areas helping people cope with climate change (see the WWF webpage, the ReliefWeb page, or go direct to the pdf). Focusing on both mitigation and adaptation, the report contains a suite of recommendations for three key audiences: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and “national and local governments.” The report is “one of the first products” by a collaborative effort entitled PACT 2020: Protected Areas and Climate Turnaround, which includes a number of large conservation NGOs, the World Bank, UNDP, and UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 

Seasonsend.org provides extensive resources on hunting and fishing

For a wealth of information related to “global warming’s threat to hunting and fishing,” see Seasonsend.org. Hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the website is a collaborative effort between twelve hunting and fishing organizations (links to seven of these have been added to the Clearinghouse’s Institution page). Seasonsend.org contains links to information on threats, what others are doing, articles of interest, sportsmen in action, national news, and other resources including a link to the 2008 publication, Seasons’ End.

New comprehensive book on climate policy

Island Press has just released the edited volume Climate Change Science and Policy. The book is divided into five major sections, with at total of 49 chapters on topics ranging from “International treaties” to “Newspaper and television coverage.” Of particular interest are chapters entitled “Wild species and extinction,” “Ecosystems,” “Marine ecosystems,” “Tropical forests of Amazonia,” and “Tropical forests.” The full table of contents and some pages are viewable on Amazon.com.

New US government climate website includes educators’ toolkit on wildlife & wildlands

In announcing plans for a new office on climate change (see story at Grist), the Obama Administration has established the new website www.climate.gov, housed at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Despite being a “prototype,” the site offers a number of useful resources, including the magazine Climate Watch and a “Global Climate Dashboard.” For followers of this Clearinghouse, perhaps the most relevant resource is the Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators (a resource originally developed in 2001, but much updated and expanded). 

Wildlands Network report on connectivity & climate change

The Wildlands Network (formerly the Wildlands Project) recently released commissioned a white paper entitled “Climate Disruption and Connectivity: Toward a Strategy for Nature Protection.” A separately drafted Executive Summary is also available. In addition to a “comprehensive review of the latest scientific literature,” the report makes four broad recommendations on adaptation strategies: (1) create additional protected areas; (2) provide connectivity and promote resilience throughout the landscape; (3) protect climate refugia; and (4) coordinate complimentary land management protocols and build new regional partnerships and capacities.

Manomet Center to focus on ecosystem services & climate change

From a press release by the Manomet Center (links added): “Plymouth, MA, January 10, 2010 Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences has received a three-year $750,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, based in Troy, Michigan, to develop climate change adaptation strategies for rural resource sectors, such as forestry and agriculture. The three-year project titled ‘Moving from Vulnerability to Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in the face of Climate Change’ will focus on developing management strategies and policies for building resilient ecosystem services—those goods and services nature provides to people, such as clean water, food production, clean air, wood, flood control, space for recreation, and wildlife, many of which are essential to human survival and well-being.”

Take a look at the “Working Group on Managed Relocation”

For a central hub on the issue of “managed relocation” (also known as “assisted migration” or “assisted colonization”), see the website of the Working Group on Managed Relocation. This website contains a listing of Working Group members (including biologists, economists, legal scholars, natural resource managers, and ethicists) who are extensively involved in this issue. Click here to go directly to their publications page. [Coordinator’s editorial: Note that the resources at the Working Group’s website largely supersede those on the Clearinghouse’s spotlight page, which I’ve renamed to reflect the appellation of “managed relocation”--a far preferable designation to either “assisted migration” or “assisted colonization.”]

Climate work by the Ecological Society of America

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) has put forth a 2-page position statement on “Ecosystem Management In A Changing Climate.” The statement is divided between mitigation (“managing ecosystems to limit climate change”) and adaptation (“managing ecosystems to withstand climate change impacts”). Under the latter, the four major types of adaptation strategies are listed as: (1) take additional steps to protect water quality and quantity, (2) enable natural species migration across human dominated landscapes, (3) improve capacity to predict extreme events, and (4) manage collaboratively at the ecosystem level. In collaboration with The Wildlife Society and the Meridian Institute, the ESA has also recently released a report with recommendations for the US Geological Survey’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The NCCWSC was established by Congress in 2008 and was conceived as a “network comprising a central office linked to some number of Regional Climate Science ‘Hubs.’” In summary, the major recommendations of the report  state that the NCCWSC should (1) “focus on linking physical climate models with ecological and biological responses,” (2) add value and “complement, rather than duplicate, the efforts of other agencies and organizations,” (3) be “a true partnership based upon collaborations at national and regional scales,” and (4) “tap into existing partnerships.”

Nature article on the “velocity” of climate change

A December 2009 letter in Nature entitled “The velocity of climate change” examines how the rate of climate change will affect biodiversity in different ecosystems. “Owing to topographic effects,” according to the abstract, “the velocity of temperature change is lowest in mountainous biomes such as tropical and subtropical coniferous forests (0.08 km yr-1), temperate coniferous forest, and montane grasslands. Velocities are highest in flooded grasslands (1.26 km yr-1), mangroves and deserts.” The authors conclude that their results “indicate management strategies for minimizing biodiversity loss from climate change.” See also the “Editor’s summary,” coverage at ScientificBlogging.com, and a helpful synopsis at Ecographica

New journal on environmental sustainability focuses on climate change

The new journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability contains a number of climate change articles, some of them directly related to biodiversity conservation. The first issue, available online for free online, contains the two particularly relevant titles: “Trends in shifting cultivation and the REDD mechanism,” and “Linking fire and climate: interactions with land use, vegetation, and soil.”

National Climate Seminar at Bard College

The Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College hosts a phone-in “National Climate Seminar” with topics featuring talks on “ecology of a hot planet,” “facing mass extinction,” and many others. Previous seminars can be listened to online.

Climate change highlighted at three major biodiversity conferences

Climate change will be the highlighted theme at three 2010 biodiversity-related conferences. First, the agenda for the 75th North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference (often simply referred to as “the North American”) from March 22-27 includes a number of sessions on climate change. The Department of Defense’s Natural Resources Conservation Legacy Program will sponsor a workshop entitled Climate Change Tools for Adapting Management Strategies on March 22 (DoD natural resource personnel are the focus audience for this session). Also on the 22nd, the conference schedule lists a workshop on the entitled Decision Making & Adaptive Management for Climate Change (click here to download a description) and a “town hall meeting” on The Impacts of Climate Change Legislation on Natural Resources Conservation. The Climate Change Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies will meet on the 25th. Second, the Society for Conservation Biology will host the 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology from 3-7 July in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The theme for the conference is “Conservation for a changing planet.” Third, the 95th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America will take place from 1-6 August in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with the theme: “Global Warming: The legacy of our past, the challenge for our future.”

Special issue of Ecological Restoration on climate change

The September 2009 issue of Ecological Restoration included a special section on climate change (at the issue’s webpage, scroll down). Article titles include:

  1. -Practicing Ecological Restoration: Climate Change in Context

  2. -Restoration in a Changing Climate

  3. -A GIS Analysis of Climate Change and Snowpack on Columbia Basin Tribal Lands

  4. -Atlases of Tree and Bird Species Habitats for Current and Future Climates

  5. -Tribal Salmon Restoration and Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

  6. -Rethinking Conservation Practice in Light of Climate Change

  7. -Why Climate Change Makes Riparian Restoration More Important than Ever: Recommendations for Practice and Research

  8. -Climate Change and Ecological Restoration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

  9. -Restoration in the Face of Climate Change: A Case Study from the Dorset Heaths

  10. -Old Nature, New Nature: Global Warming and Restoration

San Francisco Bay climate change consortium

In 2009, eight government agencies and the research-focused organization PRBO Conservation Science established the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium (BAECCC), which aims to “provide a national model of cooperative, adaptive conservation to sustain nature’s benefits to our communities in the face of rapid environmental change.” A pdf description can be found here.

Assisted migration and the US Endangered Species Act

In its upcoming issue, the journal Conservation Letters will contain an article entitled “Assisted colonization under the U.S. Endangered Species Act” by Patrick D. Shirey and Gary A. Lamberti. Available as an “early view” pdf (note that this is not the final formatting), the article concludes that “current USFWS regulations are an impediment to assisted colonization for many endangered animal species, whereas regulations do not necessarily restrict assisted colonization of endangered plants. Because of this discrepancy, we recommend a review of the regulatory language governing movements of endangered species. A summary of the article can be found here.

Guidance on climate change for US state action plans

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) is maintaining a “living document” on how US states can protect wildlife from climate change through State Wildlife Action Plans (background on SWAPS). Entitled Voluntary Guidance for States to Incorporate Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans & Other Management Plans, the document aims to provide “voluntary guidance for state fish and wildlife agencies wanting to better incorporate the impacts of climate change on wildlife and their habitats into Wildlife Action Plans.” The report was produced by the Climate Change Wildlife Action Plan Work Group, which in turn was created as a joint work group by AFWA and Teaming with Wildlife in September 2008. In addition to state and federal agency representatives in the Work Group, a number of NGOs are represented, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, and Defenders of Wildlife.

New Endangered Species Coalition report on America’s “hottest species”

In December, the Endangered Species Coalition released America’s Hottest Species: Ten Endangered Wildlife, Fish & Plants Impacted by Climate Change (see the website or direct to the pdf). Noting that a “definitive list on the ten most impacted species is impossible, given the number of species feeling the heat from global warming,” the report examines ten “ambassador” species (or groups of species): the `Akikiki, elkhorn corals, bull trout, Canada lynx, pacific salmon, leatherback sea turtles, grizzly bears, bog turtles, the western prairie fringed orchid, and the flatwoods salamander. The polar bear is also listed as an “activitsts‘ choice.” Participants in the Endangered Species Coalition include (links are to respective webpages on climate change where available) the American Bird Conservancy, Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Native Ecosystems, Defenders of Wildlife, the Institute for Fisheries Resources, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, and Trout Unlimited

National trusts deliver “Dublin Declaration on Climate Change”

At its international conference in September, the International National Trusts Organization (INTO) put forth the Dublin Declaration on Climate Change. According to INTO, the membership of which includes 30+ national trusts around the world working to protect natural and cultural heritage, the Declaration “demonstrates the consensus within the international heritage movement in support of an ambitious, robust and equitable deal on climate change, and will provide world leaders with the support they need to reach such an agreement in Copenhagen.” The Declaration contains three principal sections on mitigation, adaptation, and community engagement.

TNC commits $25 million toward climate change

In September, The Nature Conservancy committed $25 million “to help defend people and natural habitats around the world from the negative effects of global warming.” See the TNC press release, which notes that TNC will identify about two dozen field sites around the world to evaluate the effectiveness of ecosystem-based adaptation, and that areas for testing ecosystem-based adaptation may include the northern reefs of Palau, the Great Lakes, and Coastal Louisiana.

UNEP compendium updates ‘state of the science’ since 2007 IPCC report

UNEP has released the Climate Change Science Compendium 2009, which reviews approximately 400 major scientific findings from peer-reviewed literature or research institutions that have been released subsequent to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. The report is broken down into five sections on: Earth systems, Earth’s ice, Earth’s oceans, Earth’s ecosystems, and Systems management. Go straight to the pdf of the report, see the related website, or read the press release, which notes that an “analysis of the very latest, peer-reviewed science indicates that many predictions at the upper end of the IPCC's forecasts are becoming ever more likely.” 

Climate change a factor in restoring ESA protection to Yellowstone grizzlies

On September 21, a federal district judge ruled that grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem should be put back on the threatened species list under the federal Endangered Species Act. The ruling pointed to the connection between climate change and whitebark pine nuts–an important food source for the grizzly–as a significant factor in the decision. See the New York Times story, the Idaho Statesman story, or go directly to the court order.

600 groups urge US action on climate change & natural resources

Led by five of the larger US-based conservation organizations, on September 15 a group of more than 600  conservation, outdoor, sportsmen, recreation and faith organizations “called on the Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also dedicates a significant portion of funding towards helping wildlife and natural resources that are currently threatened by global warming.” See press releases from the lead NGOs: Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, The Wilderness Society (and here), National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy. See the letter directly, which lists all 600 organizations, or go to an ad in the Congressional Daily News.

US Department of Interior issues Secretarial Order on climate change

On September 14, Ken Salazar, the US Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI), issued a Secretarial Order on “Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change on America's Water, Land, and Other Natural and Cultural Resources.” Click here to go to the DOI website; click here to see a searchable copy of the 4-page press release (the pdf on the DOI’s website is not searchable). The order establishes a Climate Change Response Council that will “execute a coordinated Department-wide strategy to increase scientific understanding of and development of effective adaptive management tools to address the impacts of climate change on our natural and cultural resources.” The five principle activities of the Council are:

  1. Climate Change Response Planning Requirements

  2. DOl Regional Climate Change Response Centers

  3. Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

  4. The DOl Carbon Storage Project

  5. The DOl Carbon Footprint Project

Coverage of the Secretarial Order can be found at Climate Progress, Sustainable Business, Cleveland.com, and the Energy Collective. Praise for the initiative came from the Wilderness Society.

“Global Biodiversity Outlook-3” to examine climate change - comments open till Oct.1

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is requesting input on the third Global Biodiversity Outlook, a periodic “summary of the status of biological diversity and an analysis of the steps being taken by the global community to ensure that biodiversity is conserved and used sustainably, and that benefits arising from the use of genetic resources are shared equitably.” A draft of GBO-3 is now available and comments can be submitted until October 1. Worthy of note is the fact that in the GBO-1 of 2001, about five of roughly 250 pages covered climate change. The GBO-2 of 2006 contains many references to climate change, but no single section concentrating on the issue.

Climate change impacts on biodiversity in Australia

The Australian government has released a major report entitled Australia’s Biodiversity & Climate change--see the report’s website for a pdf of the report, a summary for policymakers, videos, press release, a technical synthesis, related publications, and a number of fact sheets (overview, fire & the little penguin, invasive species, the Great Barrier Reef, and Kakadu). A podcast on the report can be found at the website of the Science Media Center of New Zealand.

Yale journal covers conservation & climate change

The journal Yale Environment 360, produced by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, has extensively covered the effects of climate change on biodiversity. Several relevant articles include:

  1. First Comes Global Warming, Then An Evolutionary Explosion

  2. Climate Threat to Polar Bears: Despite Facts, Doubters Remain

  3. As Climate Warms, Species May Need to Migrate or Perish

  4. Report Gives Sobering View Of Warming’s Impact on U.S.

  5. Biodiversity in the Balance

US Congress: Concurrent Resolution on climate change & NWRs

Last January, Representative Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) introduced a concurrent resolution “[e]xpressing the sense of the Congress that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service should incorporate consideration of global warming and sea-level rise into the comprehensive conservation plans for coastal national wildlife refuges, and for other purposes.” A concurrent resolutions constitutes a “sense of the Congress” bill that, if passed, is not signed by the President and does not have the force of law. In February, the House Committee on Natural Resources referred the bill to the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, where no major action has been taken on it.

PEER on “10 most vulnerable National Wildlife Refuges”

In June, the conservation organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released a report entitled America’s Most Imperiled Refuges 2009: Ten of the Most Vulnerable National Wildlife Refuges, which focuses on “climate change and human responses.” See the pdf or the website/press release. The ten listed NWRs are:

  1. Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge (AK)

  2. Hawaii Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex

  3. Horicon National Wildlife Refuge (WI)

  4. Chesapeake Marshlands Complex (MD)

  5. National Elk Refuge (WY)

  6. Kofa National Wildlife Refuge (AZ)

  7. Sheldon-Hart Refuge Complex (OR/NV)

  8. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

  9. San Luis National Wildlife Refuge (CA)

  10. Prairie Potholes Region (Small Wetlands Acquisition Program)

Climate-related effects on each of these NWRs are listed in the report, and include threats posed by renewable energy projects. See also short reviews from the Wildlife Society and Refuge Watch.

New NPCA report on national parks and climate change

The National Parks Conservation Association has released the report: Climate change and national park wildlife: A survival guide for a warming world (see the report’s website, or go directly to the pdf or the text-only version with references). The report calls for broad steps to “safeguard the wildlife of America’s national parks from climate change: 1. Stop contributing to climate change; 2. Reduce and eliminate existing harms that make wildlife more vulnerable to climate change; 3. Give wildlife freedom to roam; 4. Adopt “climate smart” management practices; and 5. Empower national parks to lead by example. After chapters on coral reefs of southern Florida and the Caribbean and salmon in the Pacific Northwest, the report looks at grizzly bears, loons, oysters, yellow-legged frogs, flying squirrels, bighorn sheep, caribou, wolverines, and red knots (individual downloads for each of these are available at the website). Press coverage included a focus on Montana by the Missoulian.

Climate change and loss of new-found biodiversity in the Himalayas 

A new report from the World Wildlife Fund highlights over 350 “new” species in the Eastern Himalayas, “a biological treasure trove now threatened by climate change.” See the website, the press release, or go directly to the pdf of the report, entitled Where Worlds Collide: The Eastern Himalayas.

New book on the role of law & courts in regulating climate change

A new edited volume from Cambridge University Press examines efforts around the globe to regulate climate change through legal remedies in court. In Adjudicating Climate Change: State, National, and International Approaches, the editors have gathered a wide range of case studies, three of which are particularly relevant to biodiversity conservation:

  1. -Biodiversity, global warming, and the United States Endangered Species Act: The role of domestic wildlife law in addressing greenhouse gas emissions (Brendan R. Cummings & Kassie R. Siegel)

  2. -The World Heritage Convention & Climate Change: The case for a climate-change mitigation strategy beyond the Kyoto Protocol (Erica J. Thorson)

  3. -Potential causes of action for climate change impacts under the United Nations Fish Stock Agreement (William C.G. Burns)

A few excerpts from the book are available at above link (as well as at Amazon). The book serves as evidence that, as noted in the book’s Foreword, “the long slumber of lawyers is over.”

New US climate change report looks at ecosystems

In June, the US Global Change Research Program released the report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (also see a concise summary review by Yale Environment 360). Mostly based on a series of 21 “Synthesis and Analysis Product” reports published by the USGCRP (along with a laundry list of federal agencies and other partners--see a listing at the Reports page), the c.200 page report describes itself as the “first report in almost a decade to provide an extensive evaluation of climate change impacts on the United States at the regional level.” After an extensive discussion of climate change at global and national levels, seven chapters examine the effects of climate change on various sectors, the fifth of which is “Ecosystems” (link is to an individual page & pdf of the chapter). Key messages in this chapter are (quoting directly):

  1. -Ecosystem processes, such as those that control growth and decomposition, have been affected by climate change.

  2. -Large-scale shifts have occurred in the ranges of species and the timing of the seasons and animal migration, and are very likely to continue.

  3. -Fires, insect pests, disease pathogens, and invasive weed species have increased, and these trends are likely to continue.

  4. -Deserts and drylands are likely to become hotter and drier, feeding a self-reinforcing cycle of invasive plants, fire, and erosion.

  5. -Coastal and near-shore ecosystems are already under multiple stresses. Climate change and ocean acidification will exacerbate these stresses.

  6. -Arctic sea ice ecosystems are already being adversely affected by the loss of summer sea ice and further changes are expected.

  7. -The habitats of some mountain species and coldwater fish, such as salmon and trout, are very likely to contract in response to warming.

  8. -Some of the benefits ecosystems provide to society will be threatened by climate change, while others will be enhanced.

The remainder of the report looks at nine individual regions within the US (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska, Islands, Coasts). 

World Bank report on ecosystems & climate change

The Environment Department at the World Bank has released the report: Convenient Solutions to an Inconvenient Truth: Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change (read online or go to the pdf). Beyond the first two “pillars” of  clean energy and improved infrastructure, the report “attempts to set out a compelling argument for including ecosystem‐based approaches to mitigation and adaptation as a third and essential pillar in national strategies to address climate change.” One World Bank commentator noted that the report reveals “that conservationists have actually been doing climate change projects all along; they just hadn’t realized it.” Such an outlook is reflected in the report’s five chapter titles: 1. The World Bank and biodiversity conservation: A contribution to action for climate change; 2. Natural ecosystems and mitigation; 3. Ecosystem‐based adaptation: Reducing vulnerability; 4. Biodiversity conservation and food, water and livelihood security: Emerging issues;  5. Implementing ecosystem‐based approaches to climate change.

IUCN Red List report on “wildlife in a changing world”

The IUCN has released a new report entitled Wildlife in a changing world: An analysis of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. While climate change is a running theme throughout the report’s seven chapters, one chapter is entitled: “Species susceptibility to climate change impacts.” A factsheet summarizing this chapter can be found here. The report notes that along with this current publication, a “new initiative aimed at examining how the IUCN Red List Criteria can be used for identifying the species most at risk from climate change is underway” (p.78). The authors identified “over 90 biological traits that may be associated with enhanced susceptibility to climate change,” which they then consolidated into five groups of traits (p.79). They then answer the following questions: How common are these traits in birds, amphibians and warm-water reef-building corals? Are the species that are potentially susceptible to climate change the same as those already identified as threatened on the IUCN Red List? And how do taxonomic and geographic concentrations of species that are potentially susceptible to climate change compare with those of threatened?

New book looks at climate change’s effects on US northeast biodiversity

In her new book, Early Spring: An ecologist and her children wake to a warming world, ecologist Amy Seidl looks at global climate change from a northeastern perspective--in particular, from her home state of Vermont. In addition to the reviews available at the book’s website, several reader reviews and the first few pages of the book are available at Amazon. Seidl is the host of the Vermont PBS television show Emerging Science, episode 2 of which focused on “Weather and Climate Change.”

Science on climate change's ecological and phenological effects

In its May 15 edition, Science published two “perspectives” articles on the relationship between climate change and biodiversity. The first, by Heidi Steltzer and Eric Post, reconciles the “apparent contradiction” of shortening life cycles at the same time as lengthened growing seasons. A concise summary of the article can be found here. The second, entitled “Phenology feedbacks on climate change,” argues that a longer growing season as a result of climate change will in turn affect climate through biogeochemical and biophysical effects.” The authors point out that these effects will include a wide range of both positive and negative feedback mechanisms.

USFWS grant made for “Staying Connected”

This past spring, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program awarded a nearly $1 million grant to the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department for a project entitled “Staying Connected in the Northern Appalachians.” According to a press release from The Nature Conservancy, the project will focus on maintaining, enhancing, and restoring “habitat connectivity for 41 wide-ranging and forest-dwelling species of concern across the Northern Forest to help mitigate the impacts of habitat fragmentation and climate change” (a map and media coverage are available here). See also the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department press release.

Website to aid in “climate decisions” on adaptation

Focusing on natural resource issues, “climate-decisions.org” provides a step-by-step approach to decision-making over climate change adaptation. From the “about” page: “The climate-decisions.org project is concerned with decision-aiding for forestry, fisheries, and biodiversity preservation decisions in the Pacific Northwest, given irreducible uncertainties concerning climate change. It is part of the UBC component of the Climate Decision Making Center at Carnegie Mellon University, which is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).” A nice overview of what the site provides comes from 2C1Forest: “The website provides extensive information and resources for organizations wishing to use structured decision making in choices regarding environmental policies. The Climate Decisions website explores key themes relating to climate change adaptation, provides visitors with methods for applying these themes to their own local contexts, explains how to downscale global climate models to generate locally relevant data, advises on how to use scenarios as a decision making tool, and provides insight into complex topics relating to climate change. It also includes links to various other sites where regional climate model results can be found.”

A different kind of stimulus for ecological restoration and adaptation

In the current issue of BioScience, Stacy Small argues that with $787 billion being targeted to jump-start the US economy, “federal infrastructure investment in today’s climate-change context ought to also emphasize restoration of resilient natural systems (wetlands, forests, and river floodplains, e.g.) that deliver valuable ecosystem services such as clean water and carbon sequestration, while buffering against storm surges, catastrophic floods, drought, wildfire, and biodiversity loss.” Entitled “An Ecological Stimulus,” the short editorial concludes that while “we invest in shovel-ready engineering projects today, we must also seek opportunities to build resilience into the natural infrastructure that protects society and preserves biodiversity for tomorrow.”

Climate change opportunity in 2010 Multistate Conservation Grant Program

The US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) cooperatively administer the federally funded Multistate Conservation Grant Program (MSCGP), which is intended to address regional or national level priorities of state fish and wildlife agencies. In 2010, the MSCGP will fund projects that address seven National Conservation Needs (NCNs), the third of which was in part proposed by AFWA’s Climate Change Committee and concerns “Regional Climate Change Workshops for State Fish & Wildlife Managers on current information and tools for management of fish and wildlife.” Details are described in this pdf (scroll down to page 4).

Obama signs omnibus natural resources bill containing climate change provisions

On March 30, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 into law. The 1218-page bill (available from THOMAS) contains numerous provisions on climate change, most of them focused on the supply of water resources but some directed toward habitat and ecosystem management. For a summary of the new law, see the review by the Red Lodge Clearinghouse (scroll down for the section describing the law’s provisions on climate change).

US Fish & Wildlife Service drafts plan for climate change
The Wildlife Society recently described the status of two climate change documents to be issued by the USFWS. The first is a draft strategic plan entitled Rising to the Urgent Challenges of a Changing Climate, which describes a range of both mitigation and adaptation goals. The second is a 5-year Action Plan, which identifies “over 100 targeted actions to make progress on the goals and objectives laid out in the Strategic Plan.”

Climate change making it hard for squids to breath
A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that “ocean acidification will substantially depress metabolic rates (31%) and activity levels (45%) in the jumbo squid.” See the PNAS article and coverage at CimateArk, NYT, and Boston Globe.

“Tematea” on Biodiversity & Climate Change
Tematea is an international collaborative effort to support “better and more coherent national implementation of biodiversity-related conventions.” Focusing on six “issues based modules”--one of which focuses on Biodiversity and Climate Change--Tematea breaks down, classifies, and organizes the multiple obligations that countries have agreed to under seven international agreements (CBD, CMS, CITES, Ramsar, WHO, UNCCD & UNFCCC). Although the webpage on biodiversity and climate change initially appears somewhat nondescript, one can either link to an Introduction/Rationale or simply begin browsing in order see the utility of this compilation.

Foundation report on Wildlife Adaptation to Climate Change
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has released a “white paper” entitled Wildlife Adaptation to Climate Change: Field Review. Intended to help DDCF devise a grant-making strategy for wildlife, adaptation, and climate change, the report offers both a concise overview of the issues at hand as well as a final section focusing on “opportunity areas.” These latter consist of a number of strategies: rethinking the problem, forecasting and advance knowledge, developing and refine tools, implementation and testing, and investing in leadership. The report concludes with a number of useful summary slides that capture critical perspectives on the nexus between wildlife conservation and climate change.

Cultural Survival Quarterly on climate change & indigenous people
The August 2008 issue of Cultural Survival Quarterly features a number of stories on climate change and indigenous people. An introductory overview to the issue notes that: “Unfortunately, the same closeness to the land that has given indigenous peoples early warning about global warming also means that they suffer the consequences of it to a far greater degree than others.” Other articles cover the relationship between indigenous peoples and wind energy, sea level inundation, biofuels, representation in international fora, and polar bears. The latter article makes the case that “the science brought by the Fish and Wildlife representatives to justify listing the polar bear as threatened looked great on paper, but was incomplete—even to other scientists—and ignored Iñupiat traditional knowledge.”

Defenders of Wildlife releases series on “Navigating the Arctic Meltdown”
Defenders has compiled a series of concise 4-page reports focusing on ten species that are or will be affected by climate change in the Arctic: polar bear, ivory gull, wolverine, Arctic loon, Arctic cod, Kittlitz’s murrelets, caribou, orange-crowned warbler, walrus, and spectacled eider. Defenders of Wildlife releases series on “Navigating the Arctic Meltdown”
Defenders has compiled a series of concise 4-page reports focusing on ten species that are or will be affected by climate change in the Arctic: polar bear, ivory gull, wolverine, Arctic loon, Arctic cod, Kittlitz’s murrelets, caribou, orange-crowned warbler, walrus, and spectacled eider.

Arctic sea ice melting: No record this year
In August, the Associated Press reported that “experts expect new low” in sea ice (see the
New York Times version, which is headlined with a photo of a swimming polar bear), citing five scientists who agree that what is happening in the Arctic constitutes a “tipping point.” However, in mid-September, the NYT reported that “annual summer retreat of the sea ice cloaking the Arctic Ocean appears to have ended with the ice not quite matching last year’s extraordinary recession.”

Associated Press on melting of Arctic sea ice: “experts expect new low”
The New York Times version of this story can be found
here. The article is headlined with a photo of a swimming polar bear, and cites five scientists who agree that what is happening in the Arctic constitutes a “tipping point.”

EarthJustice sues to put pika on endangered species list
In late August, the conservation group
EarthJustice sued the Department of the Interior to add the American pika to the endangered species list due to the threat of climate change (stories at Grist, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Guardian). This action follows the submission in October 2007 of a petition to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service by the Center for Biological Diversity (see story at Exit Stage Right). For background on the pika, see this WWF page. For legal documents and other information, go to EarthJustice and do a search for “pika.”

Climate change reduces Caribou capacity to find plant food
An article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (7 September 2008) documents the increasing difficulty of Greenland caribou to find forage as they move across the landscape. Although it might seem that large herbivores are sufficiently mobile to track down resources, the “trophic mismatch” between plants and herbivores revealed “heretofore unexpected adverse consequences of climatic warming for herbivore population ecology.”
See the abstract along with a review.

Conference report on “Conservation & Climate Change"
In June 2008, some one hundred individuals gathered at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, DC, to consider “how the land and biodiversity conservation community can effectively devise and implement effective adaptive management strategies to address the ongoing impacts of climate change on conservation land and water resources, as well as agriculture and rural communities.” The meeting was the latest in a series of “Conservation Leadership Dialogues,” hosted by the
Lincoln Land Institute and organized by the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest. The final report of the meeting summarizes the key findings and recommendations, and see commentary on the issue and conference by Lincoln Institute’s Anthony Flint.

Science policy forum examines assisted migration
A group of seven scientists working on the relationship between climate change and biodiversity have published a “policy forum” article in Science entitled “
Assisted Colonization and Rapid Climate Change.” Arguing that “resource managers and policy-makers must contemplate moving species to sites where they do not currently occur or have not been known to occur in recent history,” the authors present a “decision framework that can be used to outline potential actions under a suite of possible future climate scenarios.” See also commentary from the World Resources Institute, and for a range of articles on “assisted migration” (which, at least up until the publication of the article in science, was the more common term) see the listing by the Torrey Guardians.

Climate change affects long-studied predator-prey interaction
The
Washington Post recently reported on wolf-moose population dynamics on Isle Royale, Michigan. At the end of July the National Park Service will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Isle Royale Wolf/Moose Study, “which has helped reveal how predator-prey interactions can affect entire ecosystems.” But as the Post reported, “the anniversary may not be a happy one, as both populations are close to their lowest-ever levels and have been feeling the effects of Earth's rising temperatures.”

Arid Lands Newsletter focuses on climate change & desertification
The
June issue of the Arid Lands Newsletter focuses on “desertification and local resilience,” with several articles highlighting the role of climate change in desertification.

Oregon Wild release report on global warming, carbon, and forests
The conservation organization
Oregon Wild has released the report, The straight facts on forests, carbon, and global warming. The report concludes that the “best way to think of the carbon potential of forests is not as carbon sponges, but as carbon reservoirs…and not to think of the carbon in forests at any single point in time, but strive to maintain a high average amount of carbon stored over long periods of time and across large forest landscapes. Old-growth forests are one of the most secure forms of carbon storage, while converting old-growth to plantations causes a significant net loss of carbon to the atmosphere.” See the related silde presentation.

Heinz Center releases fact sheet on ecosystems & climate change
This fall,
Island Press will release the State of the Nation’s Ecosystems 2008 report. The report comes out of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, which has released a 6-page preview entitled: Focus on Climate Change. The pamphlet contains a particularly useful summary of various types of climate change indicators.

Special issue of Endangered Species Research to focus on climate change
An
upcoming issue of the journal Endangered Species Research will be thematically focused on “Incorporating climate change into endangered species conservation.” A number of articles-including useful review articles on migratory species and mammalian extinction risks-have already been posted on the site and are downloadable without subscription.

The Conservation & Climate Change

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