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.
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.