NE CSC Report Helps State Wildlife Managers in the Northeast and Midwest Alleviate Impacts of Climate Change

The Department of the Interior Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) has released a report today synthesizing the latest information on the vulnerability of species and ecosystems to climate change in a 22-state region in the Northeast and Midwest U.S.  

State fish and wildlife agencies in these regions will use the report to help them update their 10-year conservation plans to help hundreds of animal species and their habitats adapt to climate change.

“This useful report comes on the two-year anniversary of the President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls not only for reducing carbon pollution, but also for being prepared to avoid or alleviate the predicted impacts of climate change,” noted Suzette Kimball, acting director of the United States Geological Survey, which manages Interior’s eight climate science centers. “The Department of the Interior and its partners will use this information to protect many of America’s most iconic species ranging from whales and moose to tiny birds such as sparrows and warblers, as well as freshwater aquatic species including herring, brook trout, and mussels.”

Species of greatest conservation need identified in the report include moose, brook trout, American shad, Atlantic sturgeon, spruce grouse, piping plover, freshwater mussels and hundreds of other animal species and their habitats.

“This report will assist state natural resource managers in developing science-based conservation and adaptation actions that can help offset adverse effects of climate change on their state’s most climate-vulnerable species and ecosystems,” said Michelle Staudinger, lead author and USGS ecologist at the Northeast CSC, which is based at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

The Northeast CSC region stretches from Maine to Minnesota, Missouri and  Maryland. The center is one of eight regional climate science centers established during the Obama Administration.  The mission of the Interior climate science centers, which are managed by the U.S. Geological Survey, is to guide policy makers and managers of parks, refuges and other cultural and natural areas about how to help species, ecosystems and human communities adapt to climate change.

The report, Integrating Climate Change into Northeast and Midwest State Wildlife Action Plans, is a tool to assist in the revision of 10-year state plans due in October 2015. State coordinators have been challenged to incorporate climate change impacts and species responses into their current revisions.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first regional synthesis of impacts on and responses by fish and wildlife to climate change,” said Staudinger. “The content of the report was developed through a stakeholder-driven process in which we specifically asked the states what they needed to know to inform their action plans, and then researched and delivered it.”

John O’Leary, assistant director of wildlife with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and member of the Interior Department’s advisory committee on climate change adaptation science, says the new report will be extremely valuable to state planners. “Including climate change in our action plans is critical,” O’Leary said. “With this report, the Northeast Climate Science Center provides us with the science, and we are the ones who will put it into action. We at the state level are trying to save many of our common species from facing really difficult problems in the future.”

“Natural resource managers in the northeastern and midwestern United States are faced with enormously complex challenges in dealing with the effects of climate change on habitats, species and ecosystems,” said Mary Ratnaswamy, director of the Northeast CSC.  “This report is designed to provide managers and policy makers with the science they need to sustain their state’s natural heritage.”

The report details how the Northeast and Midwest Regions of the United States “are vulnerable to a range of climate threats including extreme temperatures, heavy precipitation, sea level rise, and warming lake waters in the Great Lakes.”  It notes that, “These changes are likely to cause widespread ecosystem disruption in the region … resulting in adverse effects on wildlife.”

The in-depth document includes maps, charts and synthesis tables; and provides summaries of climate change assessments and projections for more than 30 climate factors such as air temperature, precipitation, soil moisture and sea level rise. It also has a regional overview of existing climate change vulnerability assessments, plus information on species and habitats at greatest risk to climate impacts. It offers short- and long-term adaptation strategies and actions available to natural resource agencies for conserving wildlife and ecosystems.

Report authors Staudinger and Toni Lyn Morelli are both USGS ecologists at the Northeast CSC, as well as adjunct faculty in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Author Alexander Bryan is a postdoctoral fellow with the USGS and the Northeast CSC. The authors collaborated with a range of partners including the environmental firm Terwilliger Consulting, the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science and the Wildlife Conservation Society, as well as received input from State Wildlife Action Plan coordinators, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The Northeast CSC conducts climate change science for Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri.   More:

The Northeast CSC is supported by a consortium of partners that includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Menominee Nation, Columbia University, Marine Biological Laboratory, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri Columbia, and University of Wisconsin. The NE CSC also engages and collaborates with a diversity of other federal, state, academic, tribal, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to conduct collaborative, stakeholder-driven, and climate-focused work to help species, ecosystems and human communities adapt to climate change.

RE-launch of the Early Career Climate Forum (ECCF) Online Community

The Early Career Climate Forum (ECCF) is a science-based, unbiased venue for communication, collaboration, and professional development for early career scientists working on climate change. 

Today, an expanded and redesigned ECCF is being launched as part of a Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) funded initiative, “Early Career Climate Communications and Networking”.

The primary purpose of the ECCF is to support and build a national network of early career scholars and provide an online platform to facilitate and increase information sharing and networking across the Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers and consortium institutions. 

The new website and related products include a climate-focused blog with weekly posts from regular and guest writers; an interactive discussion board on climate, adaptation, and early-career focused discussion for members; information on career resources including climate-related job boards, listservs, professional development resources, fellowship opportunities, and writing and communication tools.

The ECCF will also provide an email listserv that allows dissemination of information to members about new research, funding opportunities, and career resources. Climate-related career resources, webinar announcements, requests for proposals, or communication tools can be shared with the ECCF community by sending an email directly to the ECCF listserv: Those interested in joining the listserv or that have questions can contact the ECCF at

The redesign and relaunch is being led by Drs Michelle Staudinger, Science Coordinator of the NE CSC, and Ezra Markowitz, Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation at UMass Amherst.

Visit the ECCF >>

Reopening of Nomination Period for Members of ACCCNRS

Nominations are being accepted for membership on the federal Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS). Written nominations must be received by July 8, 2015. ACCCNRS advises the Secretary of the Interior on the operations of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and the eight Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers (CSCs). 

Please send nominations to: Lisa LaCivita, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Mail Stop 516, Reston, VA 20192,

In May 2015, membership terms for several committee members will expire, creating approximately 12 membership openings. The Department of the Interior is inviting nominations for individuals to be considered for these membership openings. Only nominations in response to this notice will be considered. Existing ACCCNRS members, whose terms are expiring, must be re-nominated during this open nomination period to be considered. Self-nominations will be accepted. Nominations should include a resume that describes the nominee's qualifications in enough detail to enable us to make an informed decision regarding meeting the membership requirements of the Committee and to contact a potential member. Additional information will be requested from those selected for final review before appointment. Members selected for appointment will be asked to identify an alternate who can participate in their stead; names of proposed alternates need not be submitted at this time.

The Department of the Interior is soliciting members for ACCCNRS to represent the following interests: (1) State and local governments, including state membership entities; (2) Nongovernmental organizations, including those whose primary mission is professional and scientific and those whose primary mission is conservation and related scientific and advocacy activities; (3) American Indian tribes and other Native American entities; (4) Academia; (5) Individual landowners; (6) Business interests.

In 2015 and later, the Committee will meet approximately 2 times annually, and at such times as designated by the DFO. The Secretary of the Interior will appoint members to the Committee. Members appointed as special Government employees are required to file on an annual basis a confidential financial disclosure report. No individual who is currently registered as a Federal lobbyist is eligible to serve as a member of the Committee.


New Report Synthesizes Climate Change Adaptation in U.S. Federal Agencies:

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) recently released a report that provides a ‘snapshot in time (2013-2014) of the status of climate change adaptation in Federal agencies that study and manage land and water resources’. The National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and the DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) are highlighted in the report (see Page 54), along with programs from the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, and several other Departments and bureaus. 

Access the Report: Climate Change Adaptation in United States Federal Natural Resource Science and Management Agencies: A Synthesis

Find us at the National Adaptation Forum! Don't Miss the Release of CRAVe!

The USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), together with a number of federal and non-federal partners, is announcing this week, at the National Adaptation Forum, the release of a new online registry for vulnerability assessments! The Climate Registry for the Assessment of Vulnerability (CRAVe) is a new web-based community resource that houses information on assessments of the vulnerability of various natural and cultural resources to a changing climate. 

CRAVe portal screenshotVulnerability assessments are important for identifying resources that are most likely to be affected by climate change and providing insights on why certain resources are vulnerable. Consequently, they provide valuable information for informing climate change adaptation planning. CRAVe allows users to enter information about their vulnerability assessments and includes a public search of existing assessments for specific geographic regions, assessment targets or endpoints, managing entities, and other factors. CRAVe was developed by NCCWSC, EcoAdapt, and a number of other federal and non-federal partners.  The purpose of the tool is to share information among different organizations regarding climate change vulnerability and reduce duplicate efforts, which will, ultimately, increase the value of existing assessment investments.  

CRAVe is being inaugurally released this week (May 12-14, 2015) at the National Adaptation Forum (NAF) in St. Louis, Missouri during several sessions/events:

  • Poster: Climate Registry for the Assessment of Vulnerability (CRAVe): A Tool to Track Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments: Tuesday 17:30 – 18:30
  • CAKE Tools Café: Climate Registry for the Assessment of Vulnerability (CRAVe): A Tool to Track Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments: Tuesday 18:30 – 20:30
  • Symposium: CAKE Tools Café: Emerging Adaptation Tools and Resources From Around the Field: Wednesday 15:30 – 17:30

National Adaptation Forum Logo

Directors and staff from NCCWSC and several of the Climate Science Centers will also be participating at NAF and leading sessions on various topics:

  • Working Goup: Tribal Climate Adaptation: Working Together, Making Progress, and Charting the Course Forward: Tuesday 13:30 – 15:30 (NCCWSC)
  • Working Group: Identifying Decision‐Focused Climate Adaptation Activities and Aligning Priorities across Multiple Sectors and Scales in the Southeast United States: Tuesday 13:30 - 15:30 (Southeast CSC)
  • Symposium: Is it Doing Any Good? Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Adaptation ActivitiesTuesday 16:00 – 17:30 (Southwest CSC)
    Poster: Adapting to climate change impacts across the Northeast and Midwestern United States: Case studies from the Northeast Climate Science Center: Tuesday 17:30 – 18:30 (Northeast CSC)
  • Training Sessions: Climate Science Grant Writing Workshop for Tribes: Wednesday 13:00 – 15:00 (South Central CSC)
  • Working Group: Speaking Truth to Power and Power to Truth: Building a Two‐Way Street in Climate Change Assessments: Thursday 13:30 – 15:30 (South Central CSC)
    Symposium: Federal climate science and adaptation programs in the US: Identifying pathways for synergistic coordination and collaboration: Thursday 10:30-12:30 (Southwest CSC, Southeast CSC, NCCWSC)
  • Post-NAF (May 15) meeting on best practices for evaluation of GCMs and downscaled datasets: The South Central CSC will be holding an informal meeting to discuss “best practices” for evaluating global climate models and downscaled datasets as well as guidance for their use in climate assessments and planning. 
    Friday May 15 (8:00am-noon) at the Missouri Pacific Room at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel

NCCWSC/CSC participants at NAF include: Robin O'Malley (NCCWSC), Nicole DeCrappeo and Josh Foster (NW CSC), Kim Winton, Renee McPherson, Derek Rosendahl, Mike Langston, and April Taylor (SC CSC), Michelle Staudinger and Alex Bryan (NE CSC), Aranzazu Lascurain, Cari Furiness, Adam Terando, Adrienne Wootten and Elda Varela-Acevedo (SE CSC), and Steve Jackson and Carolyn Enquist (SW CSC).

We hope to see you there!


Federal Advisory Committee Issues Recommendations for Addressing Climate Change to NCCWSC & CSCs

Working directly with resource managers to produce science and tools to address effects of climate change on the nation’s biological resources should remain the core focus of the DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), according to the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science's Report to the Secretary of the Interior, released today, May 11, 2015. 

ACCCNRS Report 2015 thumbnailThe report recognizes the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of the Interior for achieving significant accomplishments since the establishment of the NCCWSC and CSCs and provides several key recommendations to clarify, focus, and enhance the program's efforts.

The committee also recommends that the NCCWSC/CSC program should expand its capacity to work closely with partners, including states, tribes and other indigenous groups, and environmental organizations, both within DOI and with other federal agencies.

A “how-to guide” for “actionable science” is included as an appendix to the Committee’s report. The report also includes two other documents to which committee members contributed: one is a summary of a primer on climate change and indigenous peoples and the other provides guidelines for considering traditional knowledge in climate change initiatives.

The report also advised developing more avenues to coordination with other federal programs and with regional stakeholders. “The need for practical, actionable climate science is so large that we must coordinate closely with partners to be sure every science investment is useful and unique,” said Sarah Ryker, deputy associate director of the USGS Climate and Land Use Change program and the federal co-chair of the committee. “One of the early successes of the program is partnering with universities to provide even more expertise to answer important regional resource management questions.”

The federal Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science advises the Interior Secretary on the operations of NCCWSC and the eight CSCs. The committee has members from state and local governments, scientific and conservation organizations, American Indian tribes, academia, individual landowners, business interests and federal agencies.

View the Report >>

Read the full USGS news release about the report >>

Its American Wetlands Month! Check out our Research on Climate Change Impacts to Wetlands

Wetlands across the U.S. and around the world act as a crucial link between land and water, providing a number of services such as removing excess nutrients, pollutants, and sediment from water and acting as natural buffers to floodwaters. In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency established May as American Wetlands Month to celebrate the importance of these ecosystems. 

St. Marks NWR Wakulla County, FloridaUnderstanding both the impact of climate change on wetlands and the role that wetlands play in adapting to climate change is a vital part of ensuring climate change preparedness. Several of the research projects funded by the Climate Science Centers (CSCs) focus on ways to improve the methods and tools used in wetland research and to help shed light on how changes in climate might affect these invaluable resources. The results of these studies are often used to support planning and decision-making by natural and cultural resource managers. 

•    In the Northwest, a group of researchers found that some wetland amphibians are at risk of local extinction due to climate change and the intentional introduction of predatory species, as described in a paper published last year. The team is integrating remote sensing, hydrological and biological modeling, and traditional fieldwork to understand climate change impacts to wetland habitats. 

•    In the Gulf of Mexico, a team is researching the connections between climate and wetland ecosystem structure. This study explores the effect of freshwater availability on plant species abundance, comparing scenarios of a drier vs. wetter future for the south central and south eastern U.S.

•    Mangrove forests are also being studied in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast to understand how mangrove forest migration, due to changes in regional climate, can cause displacement of salt marshes. This change in coastal plant life has important implications for the ability of coastal ecosystems to handle climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and extreme storm events.

South Central wetland - Mike Osland project

•    Researchers in the Northeast have conducted a critical evaluation of terrestrial and wetland habitat classification and mapping methods to help standardize various ecosystem maps that currently exist and help managers utilize such maps when making decisions about wetland vulnerability or other problems.

•    Studies are being conducted in the Pacific Northwest and in California where salt marshes, mudflats, and shallow bays act as connected habitats that support a wealth of wildlife species. Scientists are examining current weather patterns, bottom elevations, tidal range, and sediment of wetland habitats to see how these elements affect plants and animals, and to understand how they will be impacted by climate change. 

These projects represent only a small portion of our work on understanding climate change impacts to wetlands and other important ecosystems throughout the U.S. To learn more about our research, please browse our project pages or visit our project search page

You can also learn more about wetlands from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center:

Images on page:
Top right: St. Marks NWR Wakulla County_FL (by Alan Cressler)
Middle left: A Cascades frog peeks out of the water in Olympic National Park (by Maureen Ryan)

Bottom right: Mangrove marsh (by Mike Osland)

SW CSC Scientist Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Southwest Climate Science Center (SW CSC) Principal Investigator Glen M. MacDonald was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of his distinguished and continuing contributions in original research.

Glen MacDonald PhotoGlen is a Presidential Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Geography and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. Glen is active in the dissemination of information about climate change and environmental change to policy makers and the public.

Glen is also involved with several research projects including two funded by the SW CSC:

Read the NAS News Release >>

NCCWSC Research Fisheries Biologist Featured by Partner Organization

Climate change is expected to have a range of impacts on fish populations, both in the United States and globally. Dr. Abigail (Abby) Lynch, Research Fisheries Biologist for the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC), has been examining these impacts for a number of years now and received her PhD at the Michigan State University with her dissertation titled: “Designing a decision-support tool for harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in a changing climate.” 

Abby Lynch

Abby's current work with NCCWSC includes involvement in several projects related to fisheries and climate change, as well as a national synthesis project on the ecological impacts of drought. Abby's work, and the pathway to her current position, was recently featured in a member spotlight by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Check out the feature here to learn more about Abby's work and to learn why Abby believes that research science is a public service!    

Climate Science Center Research Supports Coastal Tribes and Indigenous Communities

Sea level rise and other climate change impacts are already having an effect on coastal areas, threatening important cultural and natural resources and communities. Tribal and indigenous communities may see these impacts on sacred and traditional living sites, cultural practices, local forests and ecosystems, traditional foods and water quality. 



Scientists supported by the Climate Science Centers are working with these coastal communities to study the impacts of climate change on the health and vitality of the social, economic and natural systems of these communities.

USGS recently featured this work in a "Top Story" on its website. Check out the story here to learn more! 



Image: Two Yupik Eskimo students from Chevak, Alaska holding a tundra swan cygnet. These student volunteers were helping with an annual USGS waterfowl banding program along the Kashunuk River near the Bering Sea coast in western Alaska.