Amphibian reseach site.


Climate Change

See also:

Incorporating dispersal and biotic interaction into species distribution models

Research team: Scott Rinnan, Josh Lawler, Mark Kot
Many species undergo significant shifts in population distribution in response to changes in climate. This adaptive response can introduce a species to new competition from invasive organisms, or influence the dynamics of an otherwise balanced ecosystem. How can a species ensure its own survival when faced with climate change and other species that are competing for the same resources? How will climate change impact species that are highly specialist and dependent on other species for their survival?

Climate envelope models provide a useful tool for getting a general picture of how the suitable habitat of a species might change with the climate, but they are often criticized for not being able to take into account important biological processes such as dispersal ability or the influences of biotic interactions. This research project addresses these shortcomings. We are developing a hierarchical model that incorporates the climate envelopes of species with their dispersal abilities, and allows the populations to grow, disperse, and dynamically interact through time. Our objective is to create a framework that provides spatially explicit predictions of changes in species distributions that are more biologically meaningful than traditional distribution modeling techniques, and that can be adapted to a wide variety of species, types of interactions, and dispersal patterns.

AdaptWest: Data and tools for conservation planning in a changing climate

Research team: Carlos Carroll, Josh Lawler, Scott Neilson, Andreas Hamman, David Roberts, Julia Michalak
AdaptWest is a spatial database and synthesis of methods for conservation planning aimed at enhancing resilience and adaptation potential of natural systems under climate change. Its purpose is to provide planners with detailed knowledge with which to compare different approaches, and with data that can inform planning throughout much of western North America.  Website

Adaptation with Beavers

Research team:  Benjamin Dittbrenner, Christian Torgersen, and Josh Lawler
Current climate models predict that the Pacific Northwest will experience considerable hydrologic alterations over the next century. Summer precipitation and stream flow will likely decrease, as will snowpack; snow melt is projected to occur earlier in the year, and winter precipitation, storm intensity, and stream temperatures will likely increase. These changes may threaten sensitive habitats and species as well as ecosystem resilience. ESA-listed fish and wildlife, such as salmon and steelhead, will undoubtedly suffer additional declines in their already limited habitat if these projections are realized.

The types of impoundments that beavers (Castor canadensis) create may be able to offset some of the anticipated hydrologic and temperature changes. Beaver impoundments have been shown to attenuate peak flows, recharge groundwater and hyporheic flows, and regulate stream temperature and base flow. Little research, however, has been done to quantify these benefits. We are assessing how beaver dam networks modify measures of stream water quantity, such as residence time, base flow, and hyporheic lateral flow as well as stream temperature. Our research explores how effective beaver reintroductions and beaver impoundments can be at mitigating hydrologic alteration due to climate change. The products of this research will be used to inform restoration policy and planning efforts in headwater riparian systems.

Games and Climate Change

Research team: Josh Lawler, Dargan Frierson, Theresa Horstman
Coming soon...

Conservation of freshwater thermal habitats for Pacific salmon in a changing climate

Research team: A.H. Fullerton, C.E. Torgersen, J.J. Lawler, E.A. Steel, S.-Y. Lee, T.J. Beechie, J.L. Ebersole, and R.N. Faux
Climate adaptation strategies for freshwater biota have typically focused on temporal changes in hydrology and temperature, but understanding spatial patterns in water temperature is also essential for evaluating vulnerability of salmon to future climate and identifying and protecting climate change refugia. Using high-resolution remotely sensed water temperature data for over 16,000 km of 2nd to 7th-order rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest and California, we are evaluating spatial patterns and drivers of water temperature at multiple spatial scales, and using spatially structured models to consider how Pacific salmon may respond to altered thermal regimes. Our specific objectives are to: (1) characterize spatial patterns and drivers of water temperature at the scale of whole rivers; (2) compare existing and potential future thermal heterogeneity patterns within rivers (i.e., prevalence, size, and spacing of cold water patches); and (3) evaluate how river network structure interacts with climate scenarios to alter outmigration timing and survival of juvenile salmon. Together, these analyses will inform restoration and conservation strategies that minimize vulnerability of Pacific salmon to climate change.

Climate Change Avian Vulnerability Visualization and Analysis Tool

Research team: J. Lawler, M. Case, S. Veloz, L. Salas, J. Kim
Land managers need current, comprehensive, and user-¬≠friendly tools to help them develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to address climate change. We will update and expand an existing web-based tool ( that will allow managers and planners to view and download projected changes in avian habitat and distributions across the Northwest Region. The tool will be user-friendly, draw on the most current climate-change projections,and integrate new  modeling results from the current project and existing projections from another USGS-funded project. We will project changes in vegetation using the BioMAP and MC2  dynamic global vegetation models based on the latest downscaled CMIP5 climate projections, project changes in bird species distributions for 30+ focal species using these vegetation and  climate-change projections in conjunction with newly acquired data on species distributions from Washington and Oregon, and summarize and map propagated model errors.