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Adapting to Climate Change: Why Places Matter: Ensuring Ecological Resiliency Dr. Mark Anderson Dir of Conservation Science Eastern US Conservation Region.

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Presentation on theme: "Adapting to Climate Change: Why Places Matter: Ensuring Ecological Resiliency Dr. Mark Anderson Dir of Conservation Science Eastern US Conservation Region."— Presentation transcript:

1 Adapting to Climate Change: Why Places Matter: Ensuring Ecological Resiliency Dr. Mark Anderson Dir of Conservation Science Eastern US Conservation Region Rose Paul Director of Science and Stewardship Vermont Chapter, Nature Conservancy Two Countries, One Forest October 22, 2008

2 Main Points Conserve the Stage, not the Actors –Understand the geophysical template Rebuild Site Resilience –Increasing resilience vs. abating threats Design Resilient Networks

3 Facing the Truth Multiple severe and unpredictable threats Shepherding ecosystems through a changing environment “maintaining a capacity for renewal in a dynamic environment provides an ecological buffer that protects the system from the failure of management actions that are taken based upon incomplete understanding, and it allows managers to affordably learn and change.” Definition of resiliency from Gunderson 2000

4 The Eastern US Conservation Region: 14 States, 3 Provinces,13,530 Species: 8,223 plants,5,307 animals,523 vulnerable -functional extinction: chestnut, wolf, cougar, woodland caribou -presently 31% of flora and 10% of vertebrate fauna are exotic -hundreds of species range shifts

5 Overlay of Secured Areas on the Biophysical Settings Collected 41 variables for each state: geology, landforms, elevation, temperature, precipitation, shoreline etc.

6 Species Richness # of Bedrock types, Latitude, Elevation range and Amount of calcareous substrate Actual Richness Predicted Species Richness Anderson 2008 in prep, Based on the best-fit a stepwise regression of 42 variables R2 = 0.94* P =

7 Ecosystems in the Northeast Portfolios Forests Riparian Tidal marsh & Beach Steep slopes \ Cliffs Rivers & Stream Coves Summits Freshwater wetlands These aren’t going to move. How do we facilitate their change?

8 Geology: example

9 Focus on Ecosystems types based on setting and structure Create arenas for evolution not museums of the past. - At any one place the exact composition is going to change but the feature is not going to move and its significance to biodiversity will remain. OLD: Cattail (Typha latifolia) – Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) marsh Cattail (Typha angustifolia, latifolia) – Bullrusch (Shoenoplectus spp.) marsh NEW: Freshwater marsh ecosystem on shale at low elevation. Freshwater marsh ecosystem on granite at high elevation

10 Summits in the Northeast Portfolios Sedimentary Intermediate (mafic) Sedimentary Mafic -low Granite Mixed Granite

11 Rebuilding Site Resilience Allowing for Dynamics –Protect adequate space Nurturing sources of Renewal –How does the ecosystem recover? Preserving Options: the role of diversity –Many species confer resilience

12 Increasing Resiliency vs. Abating Threats Bubble Boy = no resilience, no capacity to recover, no immune system, fragile Strategy = permanent threat abatement Requires anticipating and abating each and every threat Wolverine = infinite resilience, Cells regrow instantly, Absorbs all threats and recovers instantly (albeit painfully) How do we convert bubble boy into wolverine?

13 Building Resiliency into Sites: Size

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15 Nurture Sources of Renewal Accumulated capital that provide sources for recovery –(soils, structures, seed banks, legacies) Key science questions that need research

16 Tip-up mounds Snags Multiple layers of coarse woody debris Mixed canopy & understory Full Biodiversity fungi, inverts, etc Seed Banks Soil and soil forming processes are the resource

17 Legacies and Aquatics: dissipates energy, traps litter, creates pools, releases nutrients. higher diversity & higher quality spawning habitat.

18 BOGS: Small but resilient! Depth of peat accumulation is key

19 The Role of Biodiversity Functional groups –species combine to form an overlapping set of reinforcing influences –Diverse system spread risk and retain over all consistency in performance independent of wide fluctuations in individual species –Exact composition and abundance is going to change - it has to.

20 Main Points Increase Resilience vs. Abate Threats Conserve the Stage, not the Actors –understanding the geophysical template Rebuild Site Resilience Design Resilient Networks –Redundancy, Dispersed Replicates

21 High Resiliency Low Resiliency


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