An Alert System for Managing At-Risk Species in Cascadia under Climate Change

    Principal Investigator

  • Meade Krosby, University of Washington,
  • Conservation Northwest
  • Osprey Insights
  • Greg Kehm Associates
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Google
  • Washington Conservation Science Institute
  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Northwest CASC
In Progress

A rapidly changing climate and expanding human footprint is driving increased rates of landscape change in the Pacific Northwest. This makes it challenging for managers to know if and to what extent recovery goals and conservation plans for at-risk species need to be modified to account for changing habitat conditions. Addressing this challenge requires accurate, up-to-date information about landscape change and how it affects the habitat and viability of at-risk species. In addition, managers need to be alerted when trends in habitat conditions approach key ecological thresholds, in order to determine if management goals and plans need to be modified in response to these changes.

The goal of this project is to provide regional land managers in Cascadia, an ecosystem that connects most of Washington and southern British Columbia, with up-to-date information on habitat conditions for at-risk species. Working collaboratively with regional experts and managers, researchers will (1) identify key ecological thresholds related to the amount and connectivity of suitable habitat that sustains several at-risk, climate-sensitive species in the Pacific Northwest (wolverine, lynx, fisher, grizzly bear, whitebark pine, and greater sage-grouse), and (2) build an automated and dynamic alert system for each species that will notify land managers if trends in habitat conditions approach identified thresholds. Three of the focal species are associated with rare habitats, including old-growth forests (fisher), sagebrush steppe (greater sage-grouse), and areas of deep persistent spring snowpack (wolverine). Therefore, the alert system will also include notifications of trends and viability risks for these climate-sensitive habitats.

The results of this project will improve our ability to assess trends and viability risks for several important at-risk species and habitats in Cascadia, and provide reliable and important scientific information to the agencies managing these resources – including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service, as well as several state and tribal resource management agencies. Importantly, the alert system is readily scalable, allowing expansion of this approach to other species and habitats throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Data and Products