Decision Support for Climate Adaptation in the Upper Colorado River Basin: Why Drought Decision Makers Choose to Use Tools (or Not)
Chris M. Morris, Creative Commons.
Adapting to climate change and variability, and their associated impacts, requires integrating scientific information into complex decision making processes. Recognizing this challenge, there have been calls for federal climate change science to be designed and conducted in a way that ensures the research translates into effective decision support. Despite the existence of many decision support tools, however, the factors that influence which decision makers choose to use which decision support tools remain poorly understood. Using the Upper Colorado River Drought Early Warning System as a case study, this research will 1) examine how managers choose between many available tools and 2) consider how tool creators can better align their offerings to decision maker needs.
1. Improve understanding of:
The factors that influence decision makers’ choices to use decision support tools or not, and how they choose between available tools
How scientists creating decision support tools currently interface with decision makers and how their outreach efforts do or do not match information channels preferred by managers
The role that decision support tools play in drought decision making
2. Provide useful information to the National Integrated Drought Information System about the current use of the Upper Colorado River Basin Drought Early Warning System
Study Area and Scope
The Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) was one of the first pilot areas, beginning in 2008, for implementation of a regional drought early warning system (DEWS) under the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which now supports ten regional DEWS. The selection of the UCRB for a DEWS reflects the regional importance of drought monitoring for managing water supply for agriculture and other uses, and the need for effective decision support related to drought. New drought-information tools have been developed specifically for the UCRB DEWS, and a number of others have been created since 2008, adding to the pre-existing toolkit for drought decision making. The various tools that are now available in the UCRB region can be expected to be more or less suitable for different decision makers’ needs. As a result, the broad decision context of this case study (managing drought) is fixed, but information needs vary. Thus decision makers will make varied choices about which of the available tools to use or not use.
The overall aim is to juxtapose understanding of the tool development process of tool creators with understanding of the choices made by prospective tool users to incorporate (or not) given decision support tools into their drought decision making. Document analysis will provide context and an official view of tool development or agency decision making. Conversations with scientists creating tools and drought decision makers will be used to understand motivations, priorities, concerns, and tacit influences on behavior.
Assembling a High Quality Reference Genome for Sage-grouse to Serve as a Resource for Future Studies
A male Gunnison Sage-grouse. Photo by Doug Ouren, USGS.
Conservation genomics is a new field of science that applies novel whole-genome sequencing technology to problems in conservation biology. Rapidly advancing molecular technologies are revolutionizing wildlife ecology, greatly expanding our understanding of wildlife and their interactions with the environment. In the same way that molecular tools such as microsatellites revolutionized wildlife management in the past, evolving genomic-level data collection techniques are beginning to offer powerful ways to assess biodiversity, taxonomy, hybridization, diets, demography, disease resistance and outbreaks, and even local adaptation.
This goal of this project is to sequence and assemble a high-quality reference genome for Gunnison Sage-grouse. Assembling such a reference genome can benefit several types of analyses common to conservation genetics. As Gunnison and Greater Sage-grouse are closely related, this reference genome will serve as a resource for future studies in both species, and will inform management and conservation decisions.
Examining Current Subspecies Delineations in White-tailed Ptarmigan Using Genomic Data
A White-tailed Ptarmigan on Mt. Evans, Colorado. Photo by Cameron Aldridge, USGS.
The delineation of populations that are evolutionarily and demographically distinct is an important step in the development of species-specific management plans. Such knowledge is necessary for learning how conservation threats vary across a species’ range, for devising strategies to increase population growth rates, and for providing legal protection at the intraspecific level. It is also essential for conserving long-term evolutionary resilience, given that the genetic diversity that has evolved in response to spatial variation in environmental conditions could provide the raw ingredients necessary to fuel future adaptive evolution. We are using genomic data to delineate distinct evolutionary units across the range of the white-tailed ptarmigan. This information will inform management strategies for this alpine species, which may be vulnerable to climate change.
Landscape Genomics and Ecological Adaptation in Wyoming Greater Sage-grouse
In this project, we are using landscape genomic techniques to identify putative adaptive genetic variation within the Greater Sage-grouse core population in Wyoming. We are genotyping several hundred tissue samples from across Wyoming at tens of thousands of genomic markers. Regions of the genome determined to show signatures of selection will be investigated and correlated with environmental variables to uncover important gene-environment relation that will be used to assess population vulnerability to climate change and anthropogenic disturbance.
A plan for the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat)
Loeb, S.C., T.J. Rodhouse, L.E. Ellison, C.L. Lausen, J.D. Reichard, K.M. Irvine, T.E. Ingersoll, J.T.H. Coleman, W.E. Thogmartin, J.R. Sauer, C.M. Francis, M.L. Bayless, T.R. Stanley, and D.H. Johnson
Parent Publication Title:
U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station
The purpose of the North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat) is to create a continent-wide program to monitor bats at local to rangewide scales that will provide reliable data to promote effective conservation decisionmaking and the long-term viability of bat populations across the continent. This is an international, multiagency program. Four approaches will be used to gather monitoring data to assess changes in bat distributions and abundances: winter hibernaculum counts, maternity colony counts, mobile acoustic surveys along road transects, and acoustic surveys at stationary points. These monitoring approaches are described along with methods for identifying species recorded by acoustic detectors. Other chapters describe the sampling design, the database management system (Bat Population Database), and statistical approaches that can be used to analyze data collected through this program.
Forest ecosystem reorganization underway in the Southwestern US: a preview of widespread forest changes in the Anthropocene? [Ch 4]
Parent Publication Title:
Forest Conservation and Management in the Anthropocene: Conference Proceedings
Climate change is but one aspect of the Anthropocene, a new epoch in which the effects of human activities have become the predominant force in the global biosphere. More than just an overlay on the traditional concerns of sustainable natural resource management, the uncertainties associated with these effects are creating a “no-analog future” in which much of the existing science relating to the functioning and response of forest ecosystems - which serves as the fundamental basis for current forest management practices and policies - must be reconsidered. In these collected papers, leading scientists, resource managers and policy specialists explore the implications of climate change and other manifestations of the Anthropocene on the management of wildlife habitat, biodiversity, water, and other resources, with particular attention to the effects of wildfire. Recommendations include the need for a supporting institutional, legal, and policy framework that is not just different but more dynamic, to facilitate resource management adaptation and preparedness in a period of accelerating environmental change.
Progress Report: The North American Bat Monitoring Program (NABat)
Ellison, L.E., S.C. Loeb, T.J. Rodhouse, C.L. Lausen, T. Ingersoll, J. Reichard, K.M. Irvine, W.E. Thogmartin, J.T.H. Coleman, J.R. Sauer, R. Dixon, K. Castle, M. Bayless, K. Gillies, and A. McIntire
Parent Publication Title:
44th Annual North American Society for Bat Research Symposium, October 22-25, 2014, Albany, New York
Dam removal is often proposed for restoration of anadromous salmonid populations, which are in serious decline in California. However, the benefits of dam removal vary due to differences in affected populations and potential for environmental impacts. Here, we develop an assessment method to examine the relationship between dam removal and salmonid conservation, focusing on dams that act as complete migration barriers. Specifically, we (1) review the effects of dams on anadromous salmonids, (2) describe factors specific to dam removal in California, (3) propose a method to evaluate dam removal effects on salmonids, (4) apply this method to evaluate 24 dams, and (5) discuss potential effects of removing four dams on the Klamath River. Our flexible rating system can rapidly assess the likely effects of dam removal, as a first step in the prioritization of multiple dam removals. We rated eight dams proposed for removal and compared them with another 16 dams, which are not candidates for removal. Twelve of the 24 dams evaluated had scores that indicated at least a moderate benefit to salmonids following removal. In particular, scores indicated that removal of the four dams on the Klamath River is warranted for salmonid conservation. Ultimately, all dams will be abandoned, removed, or rebuilt even if the timespan is hundreds of years. Thus, periodic evaluation of the environmental benefits of dam removal is needed using criteria such as those presented in this paper.
Detecting annual and seasonal changes in a sagebrush ecosystem with remote sensing derived continuous fields
Homer, C.G., D.K. Meyer, C.A. Aldridge, and S. Schell