Safeguarding Wildlife Webinar Series

In 2009, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Federation jointly developed the Safeguarding Wildlife from Climate Change web conference series to increase communication and transfer of technical information regarding the increasing challenges from climate change. The target audience is conservation professionals in the field and we strive to focus on the management implications for these professionals.

We’ve held over 50 webinars presented by a broad array of speakers from academic institutions, federal agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of Agriculture, as well as state agencies, the National Wildlife Federation and many other non-governmental organizations.

Recordings from 2015 thru today are viewable below. If you are interested in viewing recordings prior to 2014, please send an email to rhonda_miller@fws.gov.

Safeguarding Wildlife Webinar Series Schedule

Safeguarding Wildlife Webinar Series Descriptions

Adapting Conservation Easements to Climate Change (01:18:18)

Presented Adena Rissman, University of Wisconsin-Madison. May 27, 2015.

Join us for a discussion and share how your organization may be adapting (and barriers to adapting) conservation easements to anticipated consequences of climate change on natural communities and resource productivity.

Are You Ready For the FUTURES? Scenario Planning & Applications in Natural Resource Conservation (01:00:19)

Presented by Erika Rowland, Wildlife Conservation Society's North America Program and Nicholas Fisichelle, CC Response Program, NPS. June 17, 2015.

Increasing awareness of the uncertainties associated with the effects of climate and other changes in ecological systems are challenging traditional planning and decision making for natural resource conservation, compelling practitioners to explore a broad range of decision support methods. Scenario planning offers one option for incorporating irreducible uncertainties from different sources into planning and decision making by exploring a set of plausible but divergent futures. While better known for its application in business, the military, and community planning, the use of scenario planning to address climate change and other uncertain system drivers, such as socio-economic factors and policy, is rapidly growing in natural resource management. The first part of the webinar is designed to introduce participants to scenario planning by providing background on general concepts and different purposes for using the approach. Examples of recent and on-going scenario planning efforts will follow, highlighting a diversity of conservation issues and a range of methods for scenario development and engagement for adaptation planning and shared learning. Some of the scenario-planning practitioners, whose projects I will represent, may also join the webinar to provide first-hand responses to questions about their work.

Assessment of Puerto Rico's Coral Reefs and Test Use of the Adaptation Design Tool (00:57:03)

Presented by David Gibbs, ORISE Fellow, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. May 17, 2017. 

Multiple tools are available to help coral reef managers mitigate the negative effects of climate change on coral reefs. Applications of two interconnected tools are covered in this presentation. The first is a desktop resilience assessment of Puerto Rico’s coral reefs, which can be used to help choose sites for management actions such as reef restoration or control of land-based sources of pollution. This assessment applied a peer-reviewed reef resilience assessment methodology to NOAA’s 2014 Puerto Rico’s reef survey to generate reef resilience scores. On top of these resilience scores are overlaid stressors, such as land-based sources of pollution. Combined, these can help direct management actions. The second tool is an Adaptation Design Tool, produced under the auspices of the Climate Change Working Group of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. This tool applied climate change considerations to twelve management actions in Guánica Bay’s watershed and adjacent reefs (southwest Puerto Rico). This is the first time the Design Tool has been used during a management plan revision. Different ways to use the Design Tool to make management actions climate-smart will be discussed, as will how the resilience assessment can support adaptation planning.

Boundary Spanning: Out on the Range with National Park Adaptation Rangers (00:39:52)

Presented by Gregor Schuurman and Nicholas Fisichelli, NPS Climate Change Response Program. April 20, 2016.

Effective scientist-practitioner collaboration is vital for successful natural resource management and is only becoming more critical as the Anthropocene presents increasingly complex resource management challenges. Ongoing climate change adds great urgency and complexity to the scientist-practitioner interaction because of the inherent challenges of climate science, the emergence of novel conditions and management problems that climate change presents, and the need to shift management paradigms away from a historical-range-of-variability reference and instead towards managing for continuous change. In this presentation, we discuss ongoing climate change, adaptation frameworks, and multi-partner adaptation approaches.

Communicating Adaptation – Engaging communities (01:19:39)

Presented by Susanne Moser, Ph.D. Director and Principal Researcher, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, and Social Science Research Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University. January 20, 2016.

Safeguarding wildlife in the face of climate change is and will increasingly be – at best – a difficult task. For too many species and ecosystems as we humans have known them the task at hand is nothing short of heroic, and in many instances it will be "hospice work." Those charged with protecting and helping species and ecosystems adapt know it (and need support in this task), as do those stakeholders, visitors, outdoor enthusiasts, and other individuals already well aware of the risks of climate change. Many others don't know yet, and many don't want to find out. How do we engage them? How do we communicate with them about risks and solutions? How do we sustain their engagement for the long haul? The presentation will offer insights into effective communication of climate change adaptation, with particular emphasis on the psychological dimensions that underlie people's responses and that can help or hinder their constructive and sustained engagement in preparing for the future.

Conservation Community’s Response to Hurricane Sandy: Helping Communities and Habitats Achieve Resiliency (01:07:58)

Presented by Mandy Chesnutt, Sr. Mgr., Conservation Programs for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Dr. Richard Bennett, Regional Scientist, USFWS NE Region, Haley, MA. February 11, 2015.

Hurricane Sandy was the most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history. According to the NOAA, it was also the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, and affected at least 24 states, from Florida to Maine and west to Michigan and Wisconsin. In response to the destruction seen with Sandy, the conservation community has worked together in subsequent years to help communities and habitats achieve greater resiliency during storm events. Our first speaker, Mandy Chesnutt with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will highlight the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. In 2014, this program provided over $102.75 million in support to 54 projects that: 1) Reduce the impacts of coastal storm surge, wave velocity, sea level rise and associated natural threats on coastal and inland communities; 2) Strengthen the ecological integrity and functionality of coastal/inland ecosystems to protect communities and to enhance fish and wildlife and their associated habitats; and 3) Enhance our understanding of the impacts of storm events and identify cost effective, resiliency tools that help mitigate for future storms. The majority of implementation projects focused on enhancing and protecting existing “resiliency hubs” that provide protection to communities during storm events and funding green infrastructure installation in urban areas and supporting community planning. Ms. Chestnutt will highlight specific projects and will discuss how these science-based projects focused on answering specific questions and filling knowledge gaps that will help leaders at a federal, state, and local level make better planning decisions. The Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2013, Public Law 113-2, appropriated $360 million to the Department of the Interior to restore and rebuild national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other Federal public assets; and increase the resilience and capacity of coastal habitats and infrastructure to withstand storms and reduce the amount of damage caused by such storms. Through this Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received $102M for 31 projects. Our second speaker, Dr. Richard Bennett with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will highlight specific projects and will discuss how they worked to mitigate storm damages and improve the resiliency and capacity of coastal habitat and infrastructure to meet long-term management needs, address vulnerability to climate change impacts based on key climate information and future projections, create greater resilience to future extreme weather events and changes in natural processes, and support improved and climate-resilient wildlife habitat and ecosystem functions.

Conserving Nature’s Stage: Identifying Climate Resilient Terrestrial Landscapes in the PNW (01:05:39)

Presented by Ken Popper, Senior Conservation Planner and Steve Buttrick, Director, Oregon Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. July 22, 2015.

Most conservation planning is based on the current location of species and communities. This tactic is being challenged in a world where the locations we protect today may, due to a changing climate, contain a different assemblage of species in a few hundred years. To deal with this, current conservation approaches often focus on predicting where species will move to in the future; a reasonable approach but fraught with uncertainty and dependent on a variety of future-climate models. The Nature Conservancy has developed a complementary approach that aims to identify key areas for conservation based on land characteristics such as soil, topography and landforms that increase diversity and resilience and will not change in a changing climate. This strategy – “Conserving Nature’s Stage” – focuses conservation efforts on the physical factors that help to define biodiversity, giving species and natural communities the best chance to rearrange themselves as the climate changes. This webinar will provide an overview of the methods used, how resilience was measured and mapped, and how these products can be used to inform conservation planning. Reports, maps and data are also available at: http://nature.ly/resilienceNW

Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning (01:56:08)

This presentation will provide an overview of the CCAP Project and associated Adaptation Design Tool, including results of expert consultations with practitioners in Hawaii and Puerto Rico to test the utility of the tool using real-world examples from existing management plans. March 29, 2017.

Drought-caused delay in nesting of Sonoran Desert birds (00:49:41)

Presented by Chris McCreedy, Desert Ecologist, Point Blue Conservation Science. September 23, 2015.

In the Sonoran Desert, annual rainfall occurs in a bimodal pattern, with gentle, soaking rainfall in the winter and locally intense rainfall in the summer. Winter rainfall is correlated with variation in primary production, the amount of ‘greening up’ of the deserts in the spring. In southwestern North America, there is a consensus among climate models that seasons of below average winter rainfall will occur more frequently in coming decades, resulting in more springs with diminished primary production. From 2004-2008, Point Blue Conservation Science found a negative relationship between winter rainfall and the timing (or “phenology”) of nesting the following spring for all 13 bird species studied. Drought-caused delay in nesting was often severe, sometimes spanning several weeks. While this correlation has been found in other arid habitats, it is contrary to substantial evidence from non-arid habitats, where earlier nesting corresponds with warmer temperatures. Further, for all 4 species with sufficient sample size in our study, the later a nest’s initiation date, the lower its probability of surviving long enough to fledge young. To find the mechanisms behind this time-dependent decrease in nesting success, we teamed with the U.S. Geologic Survey to conduct a novel experiment that recreated delayed nesting phenology observed during past droughts during a wet winter rainfall season in 2010. We found that delayed pairs experienced lower nesting success than early-nesting pairs, even during a wet year. This was due to increased rates of depredation and Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism later in the season. For Sonoran Desert bird species, each day of nesting lost to drought increases a pair’s exposure to higher nest depredation and brood parasitism across the remainder of the breeding season. MAIN POINTS: - Nesting phenology was negatively correlated with winter rainfall for Sonoran Desert species from 2004- 2008. Nesting delay of several weeks was evident in some cases. - Nesting success was time dependent: nests with later initiation dates had lower survival, due to higher rates of nest depredation and brood parasitism later in the season. - Low productivity resulting from low survival of later nesting attempts raises concerns for what the future holds, given that climate change projections signal that drought and associated late nesting will occur more frequently in arid habitats of southwestern North America.

Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America's Natural Resources (00:46:21)

Presented by Mariel Murray, Deputy Director for Lands with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Dr. Mark Shaffer, National Climate Change Policy Advisor. March 25, 2015.

In October 2014, the Obama Administration released its Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources, which provides high level policy guidance that will shape the priorities and actions of Federal agencies responsible for natural resources management. The Agenda is a first of its kind, comprehensive commitment by 7 agencies (DOI, NOAA, USDA, USACE, EPA, FEMA & DOD) that recognizes the role natural resources play in both preparing for climate change and managing for carbon. It fulfills Presidential direction provided in the Executive Order on Climate Preparedness and is responsive to stakeholder input, including advice and recommendations of the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience; and envisions an important role for the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy that was released in 2013. The webcast will provide an overview of the key actions and priorities identified in the President’s Priority Agenda, offer examples of how these priorities are being addressed by Federal agencies, especially in the context of the National Adaptation Strategy; and discuss the opportunities this agenda presents for land managers and natural resources professionals.

Fact Sheets

http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/Press_Releases/October_8_2014 Priority Agenda http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/enhancing_climate_resilience_of_americas_natural_resources.pdf State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/resilience/taskforce

Facilitating ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: The case for doing something versus doing nothing (01:15:39)

Presented by Dr. John Morton, Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  July 26, 2017.

The impacts of a warming climate on the 6 million-acre Kenai Peninsula are already dramatic and forecasted to become even more so. The southern peninsula was the epicenter of a spruce bark beetle outbreak that culled 1 million acres of Sitka, white and Lutz spruce forest over a 15-year period. The fire regime is changing from summer canopy fires in spruce to human-caused spring fires in Calamagrostis canadensis grasslands. As the climate has warmed over the past half century, trees and shrubs have encroached into lowland peatlands and alpine tundra as wetlands dry and the Harding Icefield recedes. Climate envelope modeling portrays a future landscape with continuing afforestation of alpine tundra by advancing hemlock and spruce, but an uncertain forecast for lower elevations that range from more hardwood to deforestation. Although our conceptual model is that species will generally move northward in latitude and upward in elevation in response to a warming climate, this paradigm is challenged on the Kenai Peninsula where migration is constrained by the severe rain-shadow effect of the Kenai Mountains and the 10 mile-wide isthmus. The former limits the leading edge of the coastal rainforest and the latter restricts movement of native biota from mainland Alaska, resulting in a “vacuum” as the following edge of the transitional boreal biome responds to a warming climate. Particularly on the southwestern peninsula, where models suggest a system at the climatic nexus of boreal, temperate and grassland biomes, the long term outcome is uncertain but will likely be influenced by human fire starts, exotic invasive species, and depauperate native biota. There is an opportunity to deliberately influence the trajectory, but it will take a sea-change in how we manage our lands.

Dr. John Morton has been a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 3 decades, working previously in the Mariana Islands, Maryland, Wisconsin, California and stints at Arctic NWR and Yukon Delta NWR in Alaska. He's been the supervisory biologist at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge since 2002, where he and his staff have been very involved in climate change research and adaptation. He represented the USFWS in the GAO’s investigation of climate change impacts on Federal lands (2006) and on the DOI’s Climate Change Task Force (2007). He served on teams that developed the USFWS strategic plan for responding to climate change (2010) and the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (2011). He co-led an interagency team that produced Connecting Alaska Landscapes into the Future (2010), an early project of the Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning.

Hydrologic Research and Assessment: From Local to Regional Scales(00:57:03) N/A at this time

Presented by Jacob LaFontaine, May 18, 2017.

Estimates of streamflow are critical to inform natural resource managers about water availability for both human and ecological needs. Monitoring streamflow using a streamgage provides information about the amount and timing of surface water resources. However, hydrologic models can be used to provide estimates of streamflow in the absence of streamflow information and assess the potential effects of changes in climate and land cover on hydrologic response. The USGS has developed a National Hydrologic Model to support coordinated, comprehensive and consistent hydrologic model development, and facilitate the application of hydrologic simulations within the conterminous United States.

Integrating Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans (01:28:31)

Presented by Chris Burkett, VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; Amy Staffen, Ryan O'Connor, Natural Heritage Inventory; & Shari Koslowsky, Department’s Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator. November 2017

Climate change has emerged as a significant threat to fish and wildlife across the United States. As such, over the past few years, state fish and wildlife agencies have been actively working to integrate climate change into their revised State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP). This webinar will highlight general ways in which states have addressed climate change in their respective plans. The program will provide a brief overview of the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries’ climate change research, the adaptation philosophy adopted, and how those materials were incorporated into Virginia’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan. This presentation will also summarize the role of climate change in the selection of SGCN and the results of Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments (CCVA) under high and low impact scenarios, which allowed the state of Wisconsin to incorporate information on climate change in the WWAP update for 63 of Wisconsin’s natural communities (e.g., grasslands, wetlands and northern forests) and to suggest possible adaptation actions that can be taken to address environmental change. It will also highlight efforts developed through climate change partnerships to link CCVA outcomes and other adaptation resources to the WWAP and the Department’s biodiversity and natural community programs. The webinar will allow for opportunities for participants to share their own experiences with addressing climate change in relevant fish and wildlife management and identify next steps to ensure that the creative and innovative ideas developed by states will be implemented. Davia Palmeri is the Climate Change Coordinator at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies where she manages the AFWA Climate Change Committee. Chris Burkett works for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator. Chris’ career has focused on the social, economic, and policy aspects of natural resource management. Ryan O’Connor coordinates and conducts biotic inventories of natural communities for the Natural Heritage Inventory program. His professional interests include applying field-based metrics for ecological integrity. Amy Staffen conducts field inventories of natural communities, plants and birds, helps private landowners pursue conservation, and develops climate change adaptation resources. Shari Koslowsky serves as the Department’s Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator and works with other WDNR programs and partners to implement plan priorities by applying impact analysis and effectiveness strategies.

Integrating Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans: An Update (01:21:44)

Presented by Davia Palmeri, Assoc. of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Sally Ann Sims, Conservation and Global Change Scientist; and Amanda Smith, Marine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. December 2016.

Maine is a land rich in contrasts between the boreal and temperate, freshwater and saltwater, upland and wetland, and alpine and lowlands. Maine is a transition area, and its wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limits of their ranges. It is likely that climate change will affect these species and their habitats in a variety of ways. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) and over 100 governmental and non-profit partner groups worked collaboratively over two years to revise Maine’s 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). Using information from Maine’s 2014 statewide assessment of climate change and biodiversity, we identified nearly one-third of Maine’s 378 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and many of their associated habitats as vulnerable to climate change. We also proposed over 50 voluntary local and regional conservation actions to address these vulnerabilities over the ten year lifespan of the SWAP. This presentation will focus on Maine as a case study for incorporating climate change into a SWAP. We will discuss how climate change factored into our SGCN designation criteria, SGCN habitat assessments, and the development and prioritization of conservation actions. We also will discuss continued collaborations with local and regional partners to effectively implement climate change actions identified in Maine’s 2015 SWAP. Amanda Shearin is the Habitat Outreach Coordinator and a Wildlife Biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. She is part of the lead team that revised and now implements Maine’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan. Prior to joining the Department in 2014, Amanda worked on multiple natural resource issues in Maine and New England including wildlife and transportation conflicts, vernal pool and wetland ecology, fishless lakes, sustainable agriculture, and cetacean ecology. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science, M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, and Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences.

Integrating Climate Change into State Wildlife Actions Plans: An Update (01:11:01)

Presented by Davia Palmeri, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Eric Odell, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; and Sally Palmer, The Nature Conservancy. October 2016.

Climate change has emerged as a significant threat to fish and wildlife across the United States. As such, over the past few years, state fish and wildlife agencies have been actively working to integrate climate change into their revised State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP). This webinar will highlight general ways in which states have addressed climate change in their respective plans, as indicated through a recent survey conducted by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). The program will also highlight the approach applied by Tennessee, which engaged state fish and wildlife experts and both governmental and NGO partners to assess the vulnerability of species and habitats in the state and identify potential management options. The webinar will allow for opportunities for participants to share their own experiences with addressing climate change in relevant fish and wildlife management and identify next steps to ensure that the creative and innovative ideas developed by states will be implemented.

Natural Defenses in Action (00:48:37)

Presented by Stacy Small-Lorenz, Wildlife Ecologist, National Wildlife Federation. July 27, 2016.

The National Wildlife Federation's 2016 report, "Natural Defenses in Action: Harnessing Nature to Protect our Communities" highlights the important role that natural and nature-based approaches can play in reducing the mounting risks to our communities from weather and climate-related natural hazards. The report highlights how properly managed ecosystems and well-designed policies can help reduce disaster risk in ways that are good for both people and nature." Natural Defenses in Action: Harnessing Nature to Protect our Communities" profiles a dozen case studies that highlight best-in-class examples of how natural defenses are being put to use to avoid or reduce risks from flooding, coastal storms, erosion, and wildfire. It illustrates that harnessing nature to protect people and property is not just a good idea—it is already being done across the country!

Riparian Restoration Tool for Climate Change Resiliency (00:45:03)

Presented by Jessica Rhodes, USFWS in a joint postion with the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LLC) and the Partners fo Fish and Wildlife Program. April 22, 2015.

Due to rises in global temperatures projected during this century, riparian zones and the water bodies they surround are likely to face dramatic changes. These zones of forested areas along the banks of rivers, streams, and lakes host a tremendous amount of biodiversity and link many aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, acting as a corridor for wildlife. Regional climate change models predict increased stream temperatures, alterations in precipitation, and shifts in the distribution of plants and animals that can disrupt the ecological services these systems provide. Such changes are likely to impact the abundance of vital coldwater species, such as the Eastern Brook Trout, and pose major challenges for conservation and natural resource management. Given the observed and projected changes, resource managers need tools that help them create more adaptive and resilient landscapes. An innovative riparian planting and restoration decision support tool, funded by the Appalachian LCC, is now available to the conservation community. This user-friendly tool allows managers and decision-makers to rapidly identify and prioritize areas along the banks of rivers, streams, and lakes for restoration, making these ecosystems more resilient to disturbance and future changes in climate. It will also help the conservation community invest limited conservation dollars wisely, helping to deliver sustainable resources. The tool works by identifying vulnerable stream and riverbanks that lack tree cover and shade in coldwater stream habitats. By locating the best spots to plant trees in riparian zones, resource managers can provide shade that limits the amount of solar radiation heating the water and reduces the impacts from climate change. A web viewer built in combination with the tool allows users to visualize GIS data layers pertinent to elevation and land cover of the landscape, locations of dams and gas wells, and data pertaining to the presence of cold-water dependent species such as Eastern Brook Trout. The prioritization tool and web viewer are available on the Appalachian LCC Web Portal (http://applcc.org).

South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint: From Planning to Action (00:52:05)

Presented by Rua Mordecai, Science Coordinator, South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Octgober 28, 2015.

The South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint is a living spatial plan to conserve our natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. This talk will cover its creation and use by diverse organizations within the 6 state region.