Projected Future Bioclimate-Envelope Suitability for Species of Concern in South Central USA

Results of our project “Projected Future Bioclimate-Envelope Suitability for Species of Concern in South Central USA” are now online and datasets are available for download.

Project Summary
This dataset addresses the question of how future shifts in the climate and land use patterns of the South Central United States are likely to affect the distributions of important species and habitat crucial to the conservation of wildlife. It also addresses the integration of knowledge on climate change effects into management strategies and policy by enhancing the functionality of decision support systems (DSS; i.e., CHATs). CHATs are being designed for states across the western U.S. to facilitate landscape-scale conservation, project planning, and climate adaptation and are intended for use by decision-makers at all levels of government. Climate change, and its effects on individual species and biological communities, has become a critical issue requiring that we identify areas that are the most important to protect in the face of impending environmental change. These issues are especially important in the South Central U.S. where dramatic changes in both average and extreme temperatures and precipitation patterns are expected. We selected 20 focal species according to several criteria, including their expected sensitivity to climatic change, and developed bioclimate-envelope models using species occurrence datasets. Climate datasets projected according to IPCC emissions scenarios are used to assess the potential future distributions of these focal species and of large unfragmented areas, respectively. Maps of alternative future distributions of species and unfragmented areas for comparison to present day crucial habitat are to be incorporated into the publicly accessible web-based viewer for the New Mexico (NM) state-level CHAT.
Read On…

Vegetation Water Content Prediction: Towards More Relevant Explicatory Waveband Variables

by Eric Ariel L. Salas
Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA

Abstract
Although the water absorption feature (WAF) at 970 nm is not very well-defined, it may be used alongside other indices to estimate the canopy water content. The individual performance of a number of existing vegetation water content (VWC) indices against the WAF is assessed using linear regression model. We developed a new Combined Vegetation Water Index (CVWI) by merging indices to boost the weak absorption feature. CVWI showed a promise in assessing the vegetation water status derived from the 970 nm absorption wavelength. CVWI was able to differentiate two groups of dataset when regressed against the absorption feature. CVWI could be seen as an easy and robust method for vegetation water content studies using hyperspectral field data.
Read On…

Modeling the Effects of Environmental Change on Crucial Wildlife Habitat

Project Summary
This project evaluated bioclimatic-envelope models (from 19 bioclimate variables) in order to project availability of suitable bioclimatic conditions for 20 terrestrial species, identified as species of concern (SOC) in the South Central United States. We used various climate projections derived from general circulation models (GCMs) and they were post-processed via application of a simple statistical downscaling method. We compared future projected climate envelope suitability results produced from combinations of four GCMs and two greenhouse gas concentration trajectories [Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 2.6 and 8.5] for two future time periods (2050: average for 2041 to 2060 and 2070: average for 2061 to 2080).
Read On…