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Florida Biodiversity Under A Changing Climate

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White-paper on Florida biodiversity under a changing climate
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Supported by the State University System of Florida
FloridaBiodiversityunderaChanging
Climate
A White Paper on climate change impacts and needs for
Florida
January 2012
Principal Authors
Susan Cameron Devitt
Jennifer Seavey
Principal Authors
Susan E. Cameron Devitt
Jennifer R. Seavey
Contributing Authors
Sieara Claytor
Tom Hoctor
Martin Main
Odemari Mbuya
Reed Noss
Corrie Rainyn
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January 2012
Florida Biodiversity under
a Changing Climate
Principal Authors:
Susan E. Cameron Devitt
Jennifer R. Seavey
Contributing Authors:
Sieara Claytor
Tom Hoctor
Martin Main
Odemari Mbuya
Reed Noss
Corrie Rainyn
Cameron Devitt, S.E., J. R. Seavey, S. Claytor, T. Hoctor, M. Main, O. Mbuya, R. Noss, C.
Rainyn. 2012: Florida Biodiversity Under a Changing Climate, Florida Climate Task Force.
[Available online at http://www.floridaclimate.org/whitepapers]
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Susan E. Cameron Devitt
Assistant Professor of Climate Change Ecology
University of Florida - Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department
Jennifer R. Seavey
Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of Florida - Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department
Sieara Claytor
Graduate Research Assistant
University of Florida - Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department
Tom Hoctor
Director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning
University of Florida - Department of Landscape Architecture
Martin Main
Professor of Wildlife Ecology
University of Florida - Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department
Odemari Mbuya
Professor of Agronomy
Florida A&M University - Center for Water and Air Quality
Reed Noss
Professor of Conservation Biology
University of Central Florida- Biology Department
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Corrie Rainyn
Graduate Research Assistant
Florida Atlantic University - Center for Environmental Studies
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors thank Peter Frederick (University of Florida), John Hayes (University of
Florida), Christine Lockhart (Florida Atlantic University), Nicole Hammer (Florida Atlantic
University), Leonard Berry (Florida Atlantic University), Doug Parsons (Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission), and Steve Traxler (US Fish and Wildlife Service) for
thoughtful review of this manuscript.
Cover photo credits: (clockwise starting with aerial photo) NASA, Johnson Space Center, Image
#STS095-743-033; Brian Hutchinson, Conservation International; Jennifer Seavey; Karen
Lawrence
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TableofContents
ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................................... 7
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................................................... 9
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................... 15
1.1. Supporting Science ............................................................................................................ 22
1.1.1. Drivers of Change ....................................................................................................... 22
1.1.2. Potential Responses of Biodiversity to Drivers .......................................................... 42
1.1.3. Special Topics ............................................................................................................. 56
CHAPTER 2: FUTURE NEEDS FOR BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION ............ 58
2.1. Science Needs .................................................................................................................... 64
2.2. Management Needs ............................................................................................................ 71
CHAPTER 3: ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES ..................................................................................... 82
CHAPTER 4: ADMINISTRATIVE CHALLENGES TO BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT AND
CONSERVATION ............................................................................................................................ 83
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS .......................................................................................................... 86
LITERATURE CITED ...................................................................................................................... 88
APPENDICES ................................................................................................................................ 104
Appendix 1- Lists of Species of Conservation and Management Concern .......................................... 104
A1.1. FWC Managed Species List .............................................................................................. 104
A1.2. FWC Nonnative Species List ............................................................................................. 105
A1.3. Florida's Endangered and Threatened (Imperiled) Species List ............................................ 107
A1.4. FWC Priority Habitats ...................................................................................................... 111
Appendix 2- Resources for Biodiversity Management ...................................................................... 112
A2.1. Federal Agencies .............................................................................................................. 112
A2.2. State Agencies .................................................................................................................. 116
A2.3. County and Town Programs .............................................................................................. 119
A2.4. National Non-profits ......................................................................................................... 120
A2.5. State and local Non-profits ................................................................................................ 124
A2.6. Academic Institutions and Scientists .................................................................................. 125
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ABSTRACT
Florida has abundant and unique biological resources that are expected to be negatively
affected by global climate change. Florida is at particularly high risk for climate change impacts
because of its low topography, extensive coastline, and frequency of large storm events. Climate
change is already making large sweeping changes to Florida's landscape, especially along the
coasts. The drivers of this change are both physical and biological in nature. Changes in air and
water temperature, freshwater availability, salt water intrusion, ocean acidification, natural
disturbance regime shifts (e.g., fire, storms, flood), and loss of land area have already been
observed in Florida. Florida's average air temperature has increased at a rate of 0.2 - 0.40C per
century over the past 160 years and is expected to increase around another 50C by 2100. Rainfall
in Florida has generally increased by 10% over the last 120 years, and more frequent heavy
precipitation events are expected in the future. Both globally and in Florida, ocean pH has been
lowered 0.1 unit since the pre-industrial period and another 0.3–0.5 pH unit drop is predicted by
2100. Many of Florida's disturbances regimes such as algae blooms, wildfires, hypoxia, storms,
droughts and floods, diseases, pest outbreaks are already showing signs of change. Finally,
Florida's sea level is currently rising at 1.8-2.4 mm per year and may rise by another meter by
2100.
Florida's biodiversity is already responding to climate change through changes in
physiology, distribution, phenology, and extinction risk. Physiological stress is being observed
among marine species in reduced rates of calcification, photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and
reproduction brought on by increased acidity. Northward movement is becoming more common
as a result of temperature shifts. Unfortunately, for Florida, species movement brings increased
risk for invasions by non-native species, like the Cuban treefrog. Sea turtle nesting and tree
flowering dates are starting to shift earlier in time to keep pace with increasing temperatures in
Florida. Climate change also brings elevated extinction risks for Florida's numerous endemic
species and species of conservation concern.
Maintaining species and ecosystem resiliency is critical to conserving Florida's
biodiversity, and we recommend an active adaptive management framework to achieve this goal.
The application of adaptive management demands that science take a leading role in
management. As we outline here, the major scientific research needs are to improve predictive
ecological models and their application; increase focus on general climate change impacts
patterns and trends; improve the understanding of disturbance regimes and the interactions of
climate drivers; and enhance monitoring programs that link to clear management actions.
Resource management can take a leading role, especially in embracing an experimental and
flexible approach. Support is also needed for managers to improve data management and
infrastructure; embrace and work openly with uncertainity, engage in more climate change
related public outreach; and reach out to other management agencies across political and
bureaucratic boundaries. Management and science together need to promote the conservation of
natural resources; reduce other anthropogenic threats to biodiversity; consider the use of assisted
migration and other adaptation strategies; create migration corridors; and promote strategy
development that is both creative and experimental.
Fortunately, there are numerous agencies, institutions, and scientists in Florida who can
facilitate both improved scientific research and management of climate change impacts on
biodiversity. Federal programs such as the White House's Interagency Climate Change
Adaptation Task Force and the Department of Interior's Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
are being implemented to enable holistic adaptive management across state borders. Within
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Florida, The Fish and Wildlife Commission, Water Management Districts, and Florida Oceans
and Coastal Council should continue to work across county and habitat borders with Florida
research scientists and non-profit organizations to promote active adaptive management
approaches to protecting biodiversity.
Numerous direct economic benefits are associated with conserving Florida’s natural
resources, such as tourism, recreation, and fisheries. In addition, Florida’s biodiversity and
natural systems provide significant ecosystem services that benefit all the citizens of Florida. To
develop effective active adaptive management in Florida, several administrative challenges need
to be addressed such as current interpretation of legislation, lack of funds, stakeholder conflict,
self-serving behavior, and the pace of change. "The challenge to researchers is to shift their focus
from discovery to the science of implementation, while managers and policy-makers must depart
from their socio-political norms and institutional frameworks to embrace new thinking and
effectively utilize the wealth of powerful new scientific tools for learning by doing" (Keith and
others 2011). Structured and transparent decision making can unveil options for science and
management to effectively address Florida's biodiversity conservation in the face of climate
change. The preservation of Florida's rich biodiversity is critical to maintaining the unique and
unparalleled natural beauty of the state and the ecosystem services provided by these natural
systems to the citizens of Florida.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This summary sets out the key findings in the white paper titled Florida Biodiversity
under a Changing Climate and was written by the Florida State University System Taskforce on
Climate Change. This report describes the current scientific understanding of the impacts of
climate changes on the natural systems of Florida. The statements in this summary are based on
the chapters in the white paper and principal sources are given at the end of each paragraph here.
The challenge of preserving Florida's unique and rich biodiversity in the face of climate
change is immense. Climate change is already making large sweeping changes to Florida's
landscape, especially along the coast. Traditional place-based conservation measures that set
aside land to preserve a suite of species in a static state is not sufficient to preserve biodiversity
in the face of climate change. Effective management to preserve the aesthetics and functions of
Florida's natural systems can be enhanced through adaptive management strategies designed to
keep pace with the changing climate and needs of Florida's biodiversity. [Chapter 1]
Biodiversity is described by the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity as
the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. Biodiversity is exhibited over a
range of levels of organization from cells to landscapes. The maintenance of all levels of
biodiversity is critical to protecting current and future biodiversity in Florida. Florida's
biodiversity results from the unique geographical position, climate, and geology of the region.
The Florida Natural Areas Inventory identifies eighty-one natural communities, defined by
distinct and recurring assemblage of populations of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms
naturally associated with each other and their physical environment. Florida hosts an impressive
array of species making it a biodiversity hot spot in the U.S. There are an estimated 700
terrestrial vertebrate species and over 30,000 invertebrates in Florida. In addition, there are a
large number of plant and animal species that are found nowhere else: 295 endemic plants, 147
endemic vertebrates, and 410 endemic invertebrates. Unfortunately, Florida also stands out in the
high number of ecological communities and species at risk of decline and extinction, with 131
species designated as listed as threatened or endangered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Commission. Biodiversity loss has been attributed to habitat degradation, fragmentation,
destruction, overexploitation, and invasive species introduction. In addition to habitat loss and
transformation, anthropogenic climate change is also a major threat to biodiversity, perhaps even
more threatening to biodiversity than other factors. Global estimates of future extinctions as a
result of climate change range from 10 to 37 percent of all species.[Chapter 1]
Climate change is caused by the over abundance of human-generated greenhouse gases in
the atmosphere, primarily carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide emissions grew by 80 percent between
1970 and 2004, and as of July 2011 the global atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was
392.39 ppm. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is expected to continue to increase as a rate of one
percent per year for at least the next few decades. Increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
cause a cascade of abiotic (physical) changes that influence biodiversity on earth. Changes in air
and water temperature, freshwater availability, salt water intrusion, ocean acidification, natural
disturbance regime shifts (including fire, storms, flood), and loss of land area, have been
observed in Florida and elsewhere. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has identified
changes in precipitation, ocean acidification, increased air and water temperatures, and sea level
rise as major drivers of change and risk to Florida ecosystems and species. While many of these
drivers of environmental change are not new, the rates and trajectories of change are considered
unprecedented at least over the last 10,000 years. The physical changes in natural systems will
lead to changes in the biotic or ecological drivers of biodiversity. Biogenic disturbances originate
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from biological systems and include the impacts of herbivorous insects, mammals, and
pathogens, many of which are responsive to climate changes. In Florida, diseases of coral reef
communities have been increasing in recent years in association with higher water temperature.
Higher water temperature also increases marine diseases and algal blooms that are also
negatively affecting marine fish. Southern pine beetle outbreaks are a concern in Florida's forests
and climate change may increase damage by up to 4 to 7 times current mortality rates.[Chapter
1.1.1]
Human land and natural resource use are responsible for the vast majority of threats to
biodiversity in Florida and globally, therefore, the reaction of humans to climate change will
have much influence on natural ecosystems. The resiliency of many natural ecosystems to
climate changes has already been compromised by human land/natural resource use. Land use,
pollution, habitat fragmentation, and overexploitation of resources are all expected to change
with a warming climate. For example, increased variability in precipitation along with hotter
weather is expected to increase human demand on freshwater reserves leading to less water
availability for natural systems. In Florida, this problem will be magnified by salt water intrusion
from rising sea levels and increased diversion for agriculture. Any changes in agricultural
practices in Florida as a result of climate change will have large impacts on freshwater
availability to natural systems. Water shortages are widely predicted for agricultural areas across
Florida, putting natural systems in these regions at risk for water shortage. [Chapter 1.1.1]
The response of biodiversity to the various physical drivers of climate change is the
subject of a prodigious amount of scientific research. Well over 15,000 scientific papers have
been published on the topic of climate change and biodiversity. The literature shows that species
responses can be broadly categorized into changes in physiology, distribution, phenology,
adaptation, and extinction. [Chapter 1.1.2]
All flora and fauna live within their own unique set of physical constraints dictated by the
abiotic environment. Temperature is an important component of the physical environment.
Increased temperatures challenge the performance of organisms by negatively affecting growth,
reproduction, foraging, susceptibility to disease, behaviors and competitiveness. Physical stress
is not limited to temperature. Shifts in carbon dioxide concentration, disease, hypoxia,
eutrophication, salinity levels, ocean acidification and precipitation also directly affect
metabolism and development in animals and plants. Under warming temperatures, over 1,000
species have been documented to be moving towards the poles at an average rate of 6.1 km per
decade. Other changes in the environment, such as changes in rainfall and seasonality will also
induce movement. These shifts will lead to changes in species home ranges, distributions,
migration routes, and species invasions. The frequency and magnitude of these changes depend
on how important the species-specific climate niche is to the persistence of species and that
individuals within a species can identify changes and move appropriately. [Chapter 1.1.2]
Because species distributions are rapidly shifting under climate change, non-native
species invasions will likely increase. Successful invaders often outcompete native species and
reduce biodiversity. This negative influence will be magnified by the weakened state of many
native species as they are stressed by climatic changes. In Florida, hundreds of invasive species
from plants, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, fish and other aquatic species have become
established in Florida. These species cause widespread damage to Florida's native biodiversity
through direct habitat modification, competition, spreading of disease, hybridization, predation,
and other mechanisms. As many species distributions shift with climate change, the difference
between "native" and "invasive" will be blurred. Range shifts in native species could become
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problematic species invasions, necessitating management action for the preservation of
biodiversity and ecosystem function. It will become more difficult to determine which species
require management intervention and which are welcome changes. [Chapter 1.1.2]
Changing patterns in climate are altering environmental cues that many species use to
determine the timing of life cycle events. Across thousands of species, there has been a
documented advance of the start date of springtime wildlife activities by 2.3 days per decade.
Examples are plentiful: the timing of vegetation development, spawning date in frogs and toads,
return date of migrant butterflies, and egg hatching date in insects. Unfortunately, phenological
(timing) changes often cause a mismatch in important ecological interactions, such as predator-
prey relationships, pollination, and competition. [Chapter 1.1.2]
Species may also evolve in situ in response to environmental changes. Evolution is
observed when a change in an individual, such as shifts in timing or temperature tolerance
increases their survival and reproduction and can be inherited by the next generation. It is
uncertain as to how many of today's species will have the ability to respond to climate change via
evolution and some scientists speculate that it will be a minority. Species with short generation
times, large populations, and rapid population growth rates relative to climate change rates may
have better chances for evolutionary adaptation. Climate change induced micro-evolution has
been observed through changes in color patterns in owls, body sizes in lizards, and phenological
changes in mosquitoes, squirrels and birds. [Chapter 1.1.2]
Roughly a million species are thought to be at risk of extinction due to climate change.
Because they are already in decline, species of current conservation concern are among the most
imperiled by climate change. There are a number of characteristics that elevate extinction risk
from climate change: ecothermic or "cold-blooded" species, species with small ranges, tropical
species, species with small populations, island species, species that live in extreme environments,
marine species that use calcium carbonate, endemic species, coastal lowland species, and species
with slow life history traits. Because of the high number of endemic species and species of
conservation concern, in combination with climate change threats, Florida is considered to have
a very high number of species at risk of extinction from climate change. These species include
elkhorn coral, marine sea turtles, Key tree cactus, Key deer, Lower Keys marsh rabbit, Florida
panther, Florida manatee, gopher tortoise, and a wide array of coastal species. In addition, many
Florida species concentrate in coastal habitats that are at high risk from rising sea levels.
[Chapter 1.1.2]
The drivers of biodiversity loss do not act in isolation and multiple factors often interact
to magnify impacts. These interactions are likely to have large negative impacts on biodiversity.
For example, sea level rise may result in human migration away from Florida's heavily populated
coastlines which would result in significant inland habitat loss and fragmentation further
reducing the ability of native species to adapt to climate changes. [Chapter 1.1.3]
Although advances have been made, much uncertainty surrounds scientific models of
complex ecological systems, especially under a rapidly changing climate and under various
human policy interventions. Our best way forward into this unknown future may be in the
modification of ecosystem management. Ecosystem management, formally in use since the
1980's, is a useful technique for managing dynamic systems while incorporating the
socioeconomic, political and cultural needs of humans. Applying ecosystem management to
climate change will require stricter practice and modernization to preservation of ecosystem
processes and resiliency. Ecosystem management is not prescriptive in terms of the specific
management actions, but is rather a framework for how to approach the integration of science,
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societal values, and natural resource management in a dynamic and flexible manner. Scientific
research and resource management are intimately connected in ecosystem management through
an iterative process of optimal decision making, called adaptive management. [Chapter 2]
Adaptive management is an approach to natural resource management that emphasizes
learning through management based on the philosophy that knowledge is incomplete. Ecological
systems are incredibly complex, filled with interactions, feedbacks and synergistic properties that
are difficult to discern, resulting in much scientific uncertainty. Adaptive management is a
method for navigating what is known, as well as what is unknown in a learning framework to
best inform and update management actions. It is not a panacea and tends to work best when real
action-based management can be applied. In the case of climate change, the identification of
what problems are controllable via management are not always clear and this framework
provides a method for making that determination. The ultimate goal of adaptive management is
to meet environmental, social and economic goals, increase scientific knowledge, and reduce
tension among stakeholders. These goals are very much aligned with managing Florida's
biodiversity resources under climate change. [Chapter 2]
Active adaptive management begins with the conceptualization of a problem, in this case
the threats to biodiversity stemming from climate change. The second step is devising an action
plan, ideally outlining several management options with clearly defined goals and measurements
of success. Several actions can be carried out at once to more quickly identify the best method
for achieving goals. Clearly defining a monitoring plan aimed at evaluating the influence of
actions is a critical component of step two. The implementation and monitoring of action is step
three. Management can only be deemed a success or failure by carefully monitoring the changes
brought about due to management interventions. Step four is a careful analysis of the monitoring
data, followed by evaluation of results to redesign management actions for improved or further
success. The final step is to document learning and share information so that progress can be
achieved. This step should feed back into the first and thus, continue the iterative process of
managing biodiversity.[Chapter 2]
The application of active adaptive management to biodiversity conservation under
climate change demands that science take a leading and direct role in management. Scientific
research is a source for generating management strategies and measurements of success.
Research needs to focus on several issues to improve application to biodiversity conservation
under climate change.The first need for science in addressing climate change is accurate climate
models, built at a variety of spatial and temporal scales appropriate for assessment impacts on
biodiversity in Florida. In addition, land cover maps, high precision elevation data (LiDAR) and
hydrology models need to be updated. [Chapter 2.1]
The measurement and predictions of biodiversity impacts from climate change are very
active fields of science. The methods of evaluation are rapidly evolving and constantly
improving. Major areas for continued improvement include the further development of
ecological models, especially species distribution and species interaction models; increased focus
of general patterns and trends in climate change impacts on biodiversity; increased understanding
of the changes in disturbance regimes under climate change; increased understanding regarding
the interaction of climate change drivers; and improved efficiency and accessibility of
monitoring data. [Chapter 2.1]
Active adaptive management is widely recommended for addressing the management of
biodiversity in the face of global climate change in Florida. One of the greatest challenges to the
application of active adaptive management is that it calls for managers to become more
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experimental and flexible. The pace of management can be improved with access to data and
importantly, scientific interpretations of data for management needs. Management can also be
improved through taking action in spite of uncertainty and managing for dynamic systems within
the adaptive management framework. Other management improvements include improving
public outreach and stakeholder engagement. [Chapter 2.2]
Within Florida there are several strategies for promoting biodiversity in the face of global
climate change that should be considered. Many of the strategies focus on managing for expected
changes in species distributions. Strategy development should reach beyond these spatial
considerations and include species interaction and temporal needs. The strategies outlined here
are not meant to serve as an exhaustive list, but as a baseline for early intervention. [Chapter 2.2]
Protection of high quality habitat
Increasing species migration corridors
Assisted migration
Reduce other anthropogenic threats
The box below details several specific state policies for Florida that we recommend to preserve
biodiversity and provide resilience in the face of climate change.
Numerous direct economic benefits are associated with conserving Florida’s natural
resources, such as tourism, recreation, and fisheries. Florida’s tourism industry contributes
approximately $65 billion annually to the economy and natural resources are one of the major
attractions for visitors. Recreational activities such as hiking and nature viewing provide
approximately $1 billion annually through the Florida State Park System. In a given year,
Florida’s fishing industry supports more than 500,000 jobs, $12.7 billion in wages, and
$3.1billion towards Florida income.[Chapter 3]
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Florida’s coast provides approximately $11 billion annually in coastal protection from
storms, with coastal wetlands serving as “horizontal levees” against hurricanes. Mangrove
forests block wave action via their trunk and root systems during storm surges. In South Florida,
the Everglades function as a major carbon sink, offsetting CO2 atmospheric emissions, and are a
major freshwater source for the state. Climate change is anticipated to reduce or eliminate some
of these ecosystem services resulting in a net negative effect. Implementing strategies to mitigate
impacts on Florida’s ecosystems is recommended to reduce biodiversity loss, as well as maintain
vital ecosystem services and economic benefits for Florida's citizens. As previously mentioned,
adaptive management can be a cost effective way to reduce the negative impacts of climate
change on Florida’s natural systems.[Chapter 3]
Maintaining ecosystem resiliency is critical to ensure that Florida's biodiversity is able to
cope with the inevitable changes associated with global climate change. Resilience is the
capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still
retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks. Managing for resiliency in
a changing climate does not necessarily imply that the current state or even the historic natural
range of variability should be the end goal. Challenges to biodiversity preservation in the face of
climate change include current interpretation of legislation, lack of funds, stakeholder conflict,
self-serving behavior, and the pace of change. A holistic and integrated approach can unlock
these options for science and management to effectively address Florida's biodiversity
conservation in the face of climate change to maintain ecological processes and function that are
critical to preserving biodiversity and the human systems that depend upon it. [Chapters 4,5]
Florida species at risk of extinction due to climate change. (clockwise from upper left: leatherback sea turtle,
mangrove cuckoo, elkhorn coral, Florida panther, and in the center: manatee.)
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CHAPTER 1
1. Introduction
Biodiversity is described by the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity as
"the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms." Biodiversity is often defined in
terms of the number and richness of species in a given place (Franklin 1993); however, this is a
narrow view of the diversity of life and the mechanisms by which it is created and maintained.
More holistically, biodiversity is categorized into a hierarchy stemming from three elements that
interact to create all of the variety of life on earth (Figure 1.0-1).
Figure 1.0-1. The hierarchy of biodiversity. From Noss (1990)
These three elements are composition, structure, and function. Within this hierarchy biodiversity
is exhibited over a range of levels of organization from cells to landscapes. The maintenance of
all the levels of biodiversity is critical to protecting current and future biodiversity in Florida and
elsewhere (Noss and Harris 1986, Noss 1990, Salwasser 1990).
Florida's biodiversity results from the unique geographical position, climate, and geology
of the region (Figure 1.0-2).
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Figure 1.0-2. The Florida peninsula as seen from space From NASA.
Florida's land area is roughly 50,000 square miles, with over 1,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean and
Gulf of Mexico coastline (FHSMV 2000). The climate of this long peninsula stretches from
temperate in the north to tropical in the south. Climatically driven disturbances that shape
Florida's biodiversity include wildfires and hurricanes. Many wildfires are ignited by lightning
strikes, not surprising given that there are more lightning strikes per square mile compared to any
other state (Whitney and others 2004). Pine woodlands and savannas are particularly flammable,
though fires burn across a variety of habitats including swamps and marshes. In a typical year
(1981-2010) 3,100 fires and 76,000 acres burn from January through June (FFS 2011).
Hurricanes and tropical storms also cause widespread disturbances through coastal flooding,
heavy rain and high winds. More hurricanes hit Florida than any other state, most occurring from
August to October (NWS 2011). Thunderstorms are also very common in Florida, especially in
the hot and humid summer months. Because Florida is surrounded by water, including the humid
Gulf of Mexico, a lot of precipitation (annual average: 53 inches) is received despite its
latitudinal position which is usually associated with dry conditions (Whitney and others 2004).
Rainfall is more consistent during the summer months in South Florida and is more even year-
round in the northern part of the state. The northern portion of the state is also subject to freezes
in the winter, which are rare in the south.
There are several notable hydrological features that contribute to Florida’s high
biodiversity: Lake Okeechobee which is the second largest fresh water lake wholly within the
United States; a vast fresh water spring system with over 200 springs; and over 10,000 miles of
streams and rivers (FHSMV 2000). The Everglades, originating at Lake Okeechobee is a slow
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moving river that creates the largest sawgrass marsh in the world, covering 5,000 square miles
and the majority of the southern tip of the state (FHSMV 2000).
Florida is a flat plateau, with much of the land barely above sea level and the highest
point at 345 feet, located in the Florida Panhandle (FHSMV 2000). Three topographic zones
radiate out from the center of the state to the coasts. Furthest inland are the highlands, ridges, and
upland plains, which cover the highest ground in Florida and are dominated by clay and sand
deposits. The lowlands are found at intermediate elevations located between the highlands and
the coastal zone and are characterized by a variety of flatwoods and coastal wetlands. The coastal
zone is composed of diverse estuaries from salt marshes in the north to lagoons and mangroves
further south. The coastal zone also includes a large number of low-lying islands, the most
significant being the Florida Keys. Florida is ranked second in the U.S. in the number of islands
over 10 acres in size (FHSMV 2000).
The number of ecological communities delineated in Florida varies depending on the
classification system employed. The Florida Natural Areas Inventory identifies eighty-one
natural communities , defined by " distinct and recurring assemblage of populations of plants,
animals, fungi and microorganisms naturally associated with each other and their physical
environment " (FNAI 2010).
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Florida hosts an impressive array of species making it a biodiversity hot spot in the U.S.
(Ewel 1990, Noss and Peters 1995). There are an estimated 700 vertebrate species and over
30,000 invertebrates in Florida (FNAI 2010). Among plants, the state holds the largest diversity
of plant families in the U.S. and has 2,840 native plant species. The Florida Panhandle has been
singled out as "one of the richest hotspots of biodiversity in North America" (Stein and others
2000, Pearlstine and others 2002, Blaustein 2008). In addition, there are a large number of plants
and wildlife species that are found nowhere else: 295 endemic plants, 147 endemic vertebrates,
and 410 endemic invertebrates (FNAI 2010, FWC 2011). Two areas of higher elevation, Lake
Wales Ridge in the central part of the state and Pine Rocklands in south Florida have particularly
high levels of endemism.
Unfortunately, Florida also stands out in the high number of ecological communities and
species at risk of decline and loss (Figure 1.0-3).
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Figure 1.0-3. Hotspots of rarity-weighted richness for globally critically imperiled and imperiled species in the
United States. From NatureServe (2008).
Florida is number one in the U.S. for risk of ecosystem loss (FWC 2011). South Florida contains
most of the ecosystems at high risk, though others are found throughout the state (FWC 2011).
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have identified several habitats of the greatest
conservation concern (FWC 2011). These threatened habitats include eight terrestrial, three
freshwater, and nine marine habitat types (see Section 1.8 for list). Many Florida species are also
at risk of decline or loss with 131 species designated as listed as threatened or endangered by the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (see Section 1.8 for list; FWC 2011). These species
include 67 animals that are also listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Biodiversity loss has been attributed to habitat degradation, fragmentation, destruction,
overexploitation, and invasive species (Wilcove and others 2000). Globally, current extinction
rates are 1,000 times the expected natural rate of species extinction (Secretariat of the
Convention on Biological Diversity 2010). In addition to habitat loss and transformation,
anthropogenic climate change is also a major threat to biodiversity (Parmesan and Yohe 2003,
Williams and others 2003, Feehan and others 2009, Ross and others 2009, Beever and others
2011), perhaps even more threatening to biodiversity than other factors (Pimm 2008). Global
estimates of future extinctions as a result of climate change range from 10 to 37 percent of all
species (Thomas and others 2004, Maclean and Wilson 2011). Unfortunately, the threat from
climate change is expected to increase with time (Thomas and others 2004, Parry and others
2007, Heller and Zavaleta 2009, Beaumont and others 2011, Wiens and others 2011). In
addition, climate changes are negatively affecting ecosystems already stressed by other
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anthropogenic impacts, which may lead to unprecedented negative changes (Beaumont and
others 2011). Our ability to conserve biodiversity depends upon the ability of individual species
and ecosystems to adapt to current and future threats, the extent to which future climate regimes
differ from today, and the resilience of ecosystems to perturbations (Beaumont and others 2011).
The challenge of managing biodiversity in the face of climate change is immense.
Climate change is already making large sweeping changes to Florida's landscape, especially
along the coast (Noss 2011). The reliance on traditional place-based conservation measures that
sets aside land to preserve a suit of species in a static state is not sufficient to preserve
biodiversity in the face of climate change (Harris and Cropper 1992, Grumbine 1994, Harris and
others 1996, Hagerman and others 2010, Wiens and others 2011). Florida has the largest public
land acquisition program of its kind in the United States, with approximately 9.9 million acres of
conservation land in Florida (DEP 2011). However, stable static states do not exist under a
rapidly changing climate. For example, at Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve in Yankeetown, Florida
sea level rise is converting forest to marsh. This conversion completely changes the suite of
biodiversity within the preserve. Even in the Everglades, the largest roadless area in the United
States, where habitat types have lots of room to move around; sea level rise is also expected to
change ecosystems in this park dramatically. A sea level rises of 23 inches, could submerge the
park’s pinelands, one of the rarest ecosystems in South Florida (Kimball 2007). Rapid changes
like these are being observed throughout Florida's protected lands and are expected to increase
over time. Rapid impacts due to climate change require management strategies that will be able
to keep pace with the changing state of Florida's biodiversity.
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Case Study - Coastal forest retreat at Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve
Photo: Jennifer Seavey
This photograph shows coastal forest retreat under sea level rise at Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve
in Yankeetown, FL. Hammock vegetation dies off as salt water intrudes into fresh water. The
dying forest fragments are the last representatives of what was a diverse forested island, filled
with numerous tree species and a rich understory of herbaceous plants. The conversion of forest
to salt marsh under rising sea levels is exacerbated by storms and reductions in freshwater supply
due to inland development and drought cycles.
Hydric hammock is estimated to be retreating from the Gulf coast at a rate of 7 m per year over
the last 100 years. At this rate, it will migrate out of the Preserve's boundaries in about 20 years.
Preserves and parks along all of Florida's coasts face the same problem: the very habitats they
are trying to protect are moving right out from under their protection.
More information about this case study:
Williams K and others. 2000. Interactions of Storm, Drought, and Sea-Level Rise on Coastal
Forest: A Case Study. Journal of Coastal Research 19(4): 1116-1121.
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1.1. Supporting Science
Anthropogenic climate change is caused by the over abundance of human-generated
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily carbon dioxide (Solomon and others 2007,
Hansen and Sato 2011). Carbon dioxide emissions grew by 80 percent between 1970 and 2004
(Solomon and others 2007), and as of July 2011 the global atmospheric concentration of carbon
dioxide was 392.39 ppm (Tans 2011). This level of carbon dioxide is at least over 30% higher
than the natural range over the last 650,000 years (Siegenthaler and others 2005). Atmospheric
carbon dioxide is expected to continue to increase at a rate of one percent per year for at least the
next few decades (Solomon and others 2007), bringing with it a suite of changes in the global
climate system.
1.1.1. Drivers of Change
Increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere cause a cascade of abiotic (physical)
changes that influence biodiversity on earth (Figure 1.1-1).
Figure 1.1-1. Abiotic changes associated with climate change in marine systems. From Harley and others (2006).
Changes in air and water temperature, freshwater availability, salt water intrusion, ocean
acidification, natural disturbance regime shifts (fire, storms, flood, etc.), and loss of land area,
have been observed in Florida and elsewhere. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC)
has identified changes in precipitation, ocean acidification, increased air and water temperatures,
and sea level rise as major drivers of change and risk to Florida ecosystems and species (FWC
2011). While many of these drivers of environmental change are not new, the rates and
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trajectories of change are considered unprecedented at least over the last 10,000 years (Smith and
others 1999, Parry and others 2007, Solomon and others 2007, Murphy and others 2010,
Barnosky and others 2011, Beever and others 2011).
Temperature
Air and water temperatures have increased globally (Figure 1.1-2).
Figure 1.1-2. The map illustrates temperature anomalies in the decade (2000-2009) compared to average
temperatures recorded between 1951 and 1980 (a common reference period for climate studies). The most extreme
warming, shown in red, cooler than average temperatures in blue, gray areas are places where temperatures were not
recorded. From Voiland (2010).
Over the last century, air temperature has increased by 0.74 °C (1.33 °F) (Solomon and others
2007) (Figure 1.1.-3) and is expected to rise another 3.8 to 6.1°C (7 to 11°F) by 2100 (Karl and
others 2009).
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Figure 1.1-3. Global temperature anomalies since 1880 through 2010. From Hansen and others (2011).
This pace of global temperature change is twenty times faster than rates over the past two million
years on earth (Riebeek 2010). Recent examination of ocean sediment data (Figure 1.1-4)
Figure 1.1-4. global surface temperature for the past 5.3 million years as inferred from cores of ocean sediments
taken all around the global ocean (From: Hansen and Sato 2011).
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reveals that a 10C increase in temperature will put global temperatures just above the temperature
range of the Eemian period, which is the time when human civilization developed on earth
(Hansen and Sato 2011).
In Florida, the average temperature has increased at a rate of 0.2 - 1.40C per century over
the past 160 years of data collection; this increase is not uniform across the state and therefore
the trends are not consistently statistically significant (Soule 2005, Maul and Sims 2007,
Shearman and Lentz 2010). Future predictions include steady temperature increase across the
state (Figure 1.1-5)
Figure 1.1-5 Predicted annual average temperature (Fahrenheit) for two future climate scenarios for Florida. From
Stanton and Ackerman (2007).
Precipitation
Increased air and water temperatures influence global precipitation patterns. In the U.S.,
the average precipitation has increased about five percent over the past 50 years (Karl and others
2009). Scientists predict that more pronounced seasonality is likely in the future, with more
precipitation in the fall and winter and less in summer months (Karl and others 2009)
In Florida, rainfall has generally increased by 10% (Figure 1.1-6).
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Figure 1.1-6. Annual total rainfall averaged for Alabama, Florida, and Georgia from 1895 through 2006. From
Consortium (2008).
Most locations in the state are expected to become wetter overall, though increasing variation is
also predicted (Figure 1.1-7). Furthermore, more seasonality is expected with rainier wet periods
and drier dry seasons (Kunkel and others 2011).
Figure 1.1-7. April 2010 precipitation data, compared to predicted values in 2080. From Brandt and others (2010).
More specifically, heavy (top 10% by rain amount) precipitation events and light (bottom 5%)
rain events increased during 1979-2003 and moderate (25-75%) rain events decreased (Lau and
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Wu 2007) and this trend is expected to continue. Tropical storms are expected to increase
(Knutson and others 2010), adding to large rain events in Florida (Knight and Davis 2007).
However, rainfall trends are complicated by other factors such as land cover. For example in
Southeast Florida there is evidence that rainfall is reduced by urbanization and wetland
destruction (Pielke and others 1999). This finding points to the importance of including land
cover data in future rainfall prediction models.
Amplifying these precipitation-based changes in freshwater is human use which diverts
freshwater water from natural systems. For example, in the Suwannee River, Florida's second
largest river, a significant negative change in the relationship between discharge and rainfall has
occurred over the last 50 years (Figure 1.1-8).
Figure1.1-8. Annual freshwater discharge/annual rainfall in the Suwannee River drainage basin, 1957 - 2008. From
Seavey and others (2011).
Since annual rainfall has not changed significantly during this 50-year period in this particular
region, the declining output rates suggest that usage or retention of freshwater for human uses is
the main driver of the reduced discharge of the Suwannee (Seavey and others 2011). This results
in less freshwater input into coastal estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico. Human water use and
modification of hydrological cycles is reducing freshwater inputs into natural systems throughout
the state, most famously in the Everglades (Davis and Ogden 1997). This trend is expected to
increase with increasing development and temperatures in Florida (Gibson and others 2005).
Ocean acidification
Over the past 200 years, the oceans have taken up roughly 40% of the anthropogenic
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Zeebe and others 2008). Carbon dioxide levels in the ocean
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are higher now than in the last 300 million years (Caldeira and Wickett 2003). As carbon dioxide
is absorbed by ocean water, the pH is lowered and the water becomes more acidic (Figure 1.1-9).
Figure 1.1-9. Correlation between increasing carbon dioxide, seawater carbon dioxide levels, and seawater pH
levels. From Doney and others (2009).
Ocean pH has been lowered 0.1 unit compared to the pre-industrial period and is expected to be
reduced another 0.3–0.5 pH units by the end of this century (Sabine and others 2004, Solomon
and others 2007). Higher acidity reduces the capacity of marine organisms to produce calcium
carbonate, which is an important component in the bodies and shells of a wide array of species
(Sabine and others 2004), including calcite plankton, which provide the basis for many oceanic
food webs (Orr and others 2005). Ocean acidification, in conjunction with warming water
temperatures, has also been demonstrated to induce bleaching and loss of productivity in corals
(Anthony and others 2008) and is predicted to have serious consequences for coral reefs and
associated reef communities in the future (Hoegh-Guldberg and others 2007). At a pH of 7.8, the
predicted value in 2100, coral reef communities dramatically homogenize due to loss of species
that cannot survive at this acidity level(Fabricius and others 2011). Furthermore, new coral reef
formation has been shown to cease below a pH of 7.7 (Fabricius and others 2011). Marine
species in Florida and throughout the Caribbean are already at risk as increased ocean acidity in
the region is well on its way to reaching the projected 7.8 pH by 2100 (Kleypas and others 2006).
Natural disturbance regime shifts
Climate change affects the frequency, intensity, and length of natural disturbances
(Pachauri and Reisinger 2007). Hurricanes, floods, droughts, extreme temperatures, and wild
fires are already changing and the change is expected to increase over time (Dale and others
2001, Solomon and others 2007). In general, disturbances are expected to become more variable
and extreme over time (Stanton and Ackerman 2007).
Natural disturbance regimes are the result of a complex interaction between the biotic and
abiotic characteristics of a landscape (Turner and others 2001). These characteristics are
influenced by both climate change and human land use, thus any changes in human use may
produce feedbacks to natural disturbance regimes (Figure 1.1-10).
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Figure 1.1-10. Natural and anthropogenic agents of ecosystem disturbances that result from climate change. The
arrows relates to the extent of natural versus anthropogenic influence. From Dale and others (2001).
In Florida, many disturbances regimes are already changing and more changes are
expected (FOCC 2009). Hypoxia events, which create oxygen-starved dead zones as a result of
elevated water temperature, are increasing and expanding (Turner and others 2006, Rabalais and
others 2010). Algae blooms are also increasing with increased water temperature (Paerl and
Huisman 2008), though Florida data does not support a consistent pattern (Alcock 2007).
Warming waters and changing weather patterns are working to promote coastal storms and
hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico (Twilley and others 2001) and in the wider Atlantic region
(Figure 1.1-11).
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Figure 1.1-11. Time series of late summer tropical Atlantic sea surface temperature (blue) and the Power Dissipation
Index (green), a measure of hurricane activity which depends on the frequency, duration, and intensity of hurricanes
over a season. From Emanuel (2007).
The intensity of large hurricanes (Bender and others 2010) and frequency of thunderstorms
(Trapp and others 2007) are expected to increase with increasing sea surface temperature. Note
that changes to hurricane frequency are not well associated with climate change, though this is
the focus of much research (Bender and others 2010). Elevated hurricane intensity will increase
storm surges and wave height (Komar and Allan 2008, Lynn and others 2009) with probable
negative effects on coastal biodiversity, such as reduced nesting success of sea turtles (Fish and
others 2005) and conversion of coastal marshes to open water (Barras 2006). Recent storm
models predict a 20% increase in rainfall rate within100 km (62 miles) of storm centers (Knutson
and others 2010). These changes are expected to increase coastal flooding. Increasing wildfire
frequency in Florida is associated with increased lightening and decreased rainfall (Duncan and
others 2010, Slocum and others 2010), and thus is expected to increase with climate change (Liu
and others 2010). However, long-term predictions are complicated by a complex, but positive
(Fedorov and Philander 2000) relationship between Florida fire frequency and La Niña (Harrison
and Meindl 2001). While fires are expected to increase due to a predicted higher frequency of El
Niño/ La Niña events under climate change (Collins 2005), long-term fire predictions for Florida
are not clear (Merryfield 2006). However, it is important to note that fire risk and intensity can
increase rapidly even under short periods of drought. This means that even under a higher
average amount of rainfall in Florida, fires could become more frequent (Beckage and Platt
2003). Finally, with increased variability in precipitation events, land cover changes, and
increased rain seasonality, more drought and flood events have been observed (Marshall and
others 2004) and are expected to increase in Florida (Conservancy 2009a).
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Sea level rise
Increasing air and water temperatures are leading to global sea level rise (Solomon and
others 2007). From the 1990s through 2010, average global sea level increased at a rate of 3.3
mm per year (Figure 1.1-12).
Figure 1.1-12. Global mean sea level evolution over the 20th and 21st centuries. The red curve is based on tide
gauge measurements. The black curve is the altimetry record (zoomed over the 19932009 time span). Projections
for the 21st century are also shown. The shaded light blue zone represents Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change AR4 projections for the A1FI greenhouse gas emission scenario. Bars are semi-empirical projections. From
Nicholls and Cazenave (2010).
Sea level rise is primarily the result of thermal expansion from warming sea water and land-
based ice melt from increased air temperature (Nicholls and Cazenave 2010). Though predictions
are constantly improved with increased model accuracy and data, sea level is expected to
increase between 0.7 to 2 m by 2100 (Rahmstorf and others 2007, Allison and others 2009,
Grinsted and others 2010). There is the potential for sea level rise above 2 m (Hansen 2007,
Nicholls and others 2011). The increasing rate of sea level rise is significant and is expected to
continue even if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are capped today (FOCC 2010). Models
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of West Antarctica ice-sheet melting reveal that sea level along U.S. coastlines will be 25 to 30%
higher than the global mean (Bamber and others 2009, Mitrovica and others 2009). In addition,
abrupt ice melting may lead to abrupt and concentrated periods of dramatic sea level rise
(Gregory and others 2004). Uneven sea level rise also results from local variation in water
temperature, chemistry, changes in ocean currents, underlying topography and other factors
(Solomon and others 2007). (Figure 1.1-13).
Figure 1.1-13. Regional sea-level trends from satellite altimetry for the period October 1992 to July 2009. From
Nicholls and Cazenave (2010).
Because of low topography, the vast amount of shoreline, and even localized coastal land
subsidence (sinking), Florida is particularly at risk from sea level rise. Sea level rise is
considered Florida's gravest and most immediate threat from climate change (FOCC 2010, FWC
2011, Noss 2011). Because of lower elevations, sea level rise is having more immediate impacts
in South Florida compared to the Panhandle (FOCC 2010). However, effects are being seen
throughout the state (Williams and others 2003, Ross and others 2009, FOCC 2010). Across
Florida, rates of sea level rise are variable (Figure 1.1-14), though all are increasing over time
(Walton 2007).
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Figure 1.1-14. Rates of sea level rise in Florida from long-term tide gage records. From Donoghue (2009).
Predictions for salt water inundation in Florida are quite alarming (Figure 1.1-15),
Figure 1.1-15. Two future climate scenarios for Florida sea level rise (inches). From Stanton and Ackerman (2007).
even under a conservative 1 meter (39 inches) rise, 10% of the state will be under water (Noss
2011). The percent of inundated land increases dramatically with higher sea level rise estimates
(Figure 1.1-16).
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Figure 1.1-16. Sea level rise projections of 1 m, 3 m, and 6 m for Florida. From Oetting and others (2010).
Observed impacts from sea level rise include shoreline erosion, intrusion of salt water into
surface and ground freshwater resources, and habitat flooding/loss (Williams and others 2003,
Ross and others 2009, Seavey and others 2011). These impacts are compounded with the high
frequency of coastal storms and hurricanes in Florida (Frazier and others 2010). Comparisons of
Florida coastal flooding across a variety of storm categories reveals that flooding is much greater
when sea levels rise (Figure 1.1-17).
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Figure 1.1-17. Storm-surge hazard zones enhanced by sea-level-rise projections in Sarasota County, Florida, for
various hurricane categories. From Frazier and others (2010).
In addition, in many regions of Florida canals that were built several decades ago to control
flooding have reduced capacity to drain storm waters due to higher sea level (Park and others
2011). Land loss is widely expected for low-lying areas, such as the Florida Keys, much of the
mainland in South Florida and along the majority of the coast (Stanton and Ackerman 2007,
Noss 2011). Salt water intrusion is exacerbated by human extraction of freshwater resources
throughout Florida (Reviewed in Lin and others 2009).
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Case Study - Florida's sinking islands
Map source: Bergh (2011)
The archipelago of the Florida Keys extends 338 km southwest of mainland Florida. The sea
level at the most southern island has risen at a rate of 2.4 cm per decade from 1913 to 1990 (Ross
and others 1992) and more recently at a rate of 3.8 cm per decade (Walton 2007). The low
elevation of the Florida Keys (mostly below 2 m) (Ross and others 1992), puts them at great risk
for inundation. The outlook under most sea level rise predictions is for complete or significant
loss of these islands within the next century (Bergh 2011).
More information about this case study:
Bergh C. 2011. Initial estimates of the ecologcial and economic consequences of sea level rise on
the Florida Keys through the year 2100. The Nature Conservancy. Available at:
http://www.frrp.org/SLR%20documents/FINAL%20-%20Aug%2021%20final.pdf.
Access date: September 27, 2011.
Maschinski J and others. 2011. Sinking ships: conservation options for endemic taxa threatened
by sea level rise. Climatic Change 107(1-2): 147-167.
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Physical changes in natural systems will lead to changes in the biotic or ecological
drivers of biodiversity. Biogenic disturbance regime shifts (pests, diseases, etc.) and ecosystem
functions (primary productivity changes, decomposition, nutrient and water cycle shifts,
connectivity changes, pollinators, etc.) have and are expected to continue to change under
climate change (FWC 2011, Geyer and others 2011). Human land and natural resource use is
also expected to change with a shifting climate, which will also drive biodiversity changes
(Solomon and others 2007).
Biogenic disturbance regime shifts
Biogenic disturbances originate from biological systems and include the impacts of
herbivorous insects, mammals, and pathogens, many of which are responsive to climate changes.
Wildlife diseases are sensitive to temperature and moisture and are therefore shifting under
climate change (Harvell and others 2002). The direction and amount of change among diseases is
variable and dependent of the specific disease (Harvell and others 2002). However, some broad
patterns have been observed, especially in, but not limited to aquatic systems. Diseases are on the
rise in amphibians, turtles and corals (Lafferty and others 2004, Bruno and others 2007, Rohr and
Raffel 2010, Johnson and others 2011b, Okamura and Feist 2011). Because of narrow baseline
seasonal temperature ranges, small changes in the climate of semi-tropical and tropical regions
may lead to large changes among tropical hosts and parasites compared to higher latitudes
(Deutsch and others 2008, Fuller and others 2011).
Many insect outbreaks are also on the rise in forests (Breshears and others 2005,
Cudmore and others 2010) and agriculture (Petzoldt and Seaman 2008). Because insects are
dependent on air temperature, the intensity and frequency of outbreaks are increasing under the
influence of global warming (Tobin and others 2008, Jonsson and others 2009). For example, it
has been estimated that with a 20 C temperature increase, insects might experience one to five
additional life cycles per season, allowing them to overwhelm host species and quickly expand
(Yamamura and Kiritani 1998). Insects, like many species, are expanding their ranges poleward,
leading to outbreaks in previously undisturbed landscapes (Cudmore and others 2010). Southern
pine beetles are a concern in Florida's forests and climate change may increase damage by up to
4 to 7 times current mortality rates (Gan 2004).
Unfortunately, increased insect and disease outbreaks among agricultural crops will lead
to increased pesticide/chemical use and other changes in crop management, which will have
important environmental impacts (Petzoldt and Seaman 2008). For example, outbreaks of citrus
canker, which can devastate citrus groves, has been linked to hurricane intensity and thus may
increase under climate change (Irey and others 2006).
Diseases of coral reef communities have been increasing in recent years in association
with higher water temperature (Porter and others 2001). Black band disease (Figure 1.1-18) is
common in hard corals in the Florida Keys and is expected to continue to rise, along with
extinction risk for these species (Rosenberg and Ben-Haim 2002). Marine diseases and algal
blooms are also negatively affecting marine fish (National Wildlife Foundation 2006).
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Figure 1.1-18. Black band disease on coral. Source: Wikipedia commons.
Ecosystem functions
Ecosystem function is the capacity of natural processes and components to provide goods
and services that satisfy biodiversity needs, either directly or indirectly. As a result of climate
change impacts on physical and biotic environment, ecosystem functions are expected to be
affected (Geyer and others 2011). Examples of important services include primary productivity,
which forms the basis of the food chain. These organisms, such photosynthetic algae and plants;
and chemosynthetic bacteria, directly or indirectly feed the rest of life on earth. Negative impacts
have been documented in ocean primary productivity (Fabry and others 2008, Ainsworth and
others 2011, Wetz and others 2011), decomposition (Solomon and others 2007, Schindlbacher
and others 2011), nutrient and water cycle shifts (Solomon and others 2007), habitat structure via
the loss of ecosystem engineers (Seavey and others 2011), habitat connectivity (Sieck and others
2011), and pollinators (Solomon and others 2007, Aldridge and others 2011). These impacts are
expected throughout Florida and will be addressed in more detail under biodiversity response
below. The key point is that change in any component of an ecosystem can alter function,
leading to cascading effects on biodiversity (Johnson and others 2011a, Wetz and others 2011).
Land use and natural resource use
Human-mediated land and natural resource use are responsible for the vast majority of
threats to biodiversity in Florida and globally, therefore, the reaction of humans to climate
change will have much influence on natural ecosystems (Solomon and others 2007). The
resiliency of many natural ecosystems to climate changes has already been compromised by
human activities (Pachauri and Reisinger 2007). Land use, pollution, habitat fragmentation, and
overexploitation of resources are all expected to change with a warming climate (Pachauri and
Reisinger 2007). For example, increased variability in precipitation along with hotter weather is
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expected to increase human demand on freshwater reserves leading to less water availability for
natural systems (Pachauri and Reisinger 2007, Hall and others 2008). In Florida, this problem
will be magnified by saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels (FOCC 2009) and increased
diversion to human use by a growing population (Hall and others 2008). This freshwater demand
is not limited to drinking water, in fact the majority freshwater use is for agricultural irrigation
(81% of U.S. consumptive water use) (Hall and others 2008) and climate change is expected to
increase demand for agricultural irrigation. Increased demand for agricultural irrigation may
create conflicts over availability of freshwater needed for sustaining natural systems. Water
shortages are widely predicted for agricultural areas across Florida (Figure 1.1-19), putting
natural systems in these regions also at risk for water shortage.
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Figure 1.1-19. Estimated agricultural water shortage risk for Florida counties by 2050. Water demand projections
were estimated from a business-as-usual trends in growth, particularly of population and energy demand, and
renewable water supply projections are based on the average results of an ensemble of sixteen established climate
models. From Tech (2010).
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Case Study - Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin
Source: Lin (2009).
This graph illustrates the feedbacks between climate change, human use, and freshwater
limitations for natural systems. The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system runs from
Georgia to Florida and is at the center of a 30-year conflict over access to freshwater. Both
human and natural systems are being stressed by decreasing freshwater supply. The conflict
began when droughts and floods began to negatively impact the consistency of Georgia's water
supply. Georgia's growing population and their associated demand for water led to a cascade of
water claims among river system stakeholders, which includes agricultural and fishing interests.
Increasing variation in precipitation, warming temperatures, and sea level rise is making the
situation worse and the politics more contentious. In Florida's Apalachicola Bay, estuaries have
lost many ecological functions as a result of reduced freshwater input, which threatens the local
economy based on seafood and recreational fisheries that is estimated at several billion dollars
annually (Ruhl 2005). Legal battle lines have put stakeholders and natural systems at odds with
each other. Human use of freshwater resources in a warming world will become more intense,
challenging our ability to balance the needs of a growing population and natural ecosystems.
More information about this case study:
Union of Concerned Scientists. 2009. Apalachicola Bay System, Running dry: The Panhandle
regional ecosystem (Alabama-Florida). Available at:
http://www.ucsusa.org/gulf/gcplacesapa.html. Access date: September 29, 2011.
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1.1.2. Potential Responses of Biodiversity to Drivers
The response of biodiversity to the various physical drivers of climate change is the
subject of a prodigious amount of scientific research. Well over 15,000 scientific papers have
been published on the topic of climate change and biodiversity (Web of Science keyword search
24 August 2011). Species responses can be broadly categorized into changes in physiology,
distribution, phenology, evolutionary adaptation, and extinction (Figure 1.1-20). There is little
doubt that many species are already responding to changing conditions and that many more will
do so in the future (Hughes 2000).
Figure 1.1-20. Potential pathways of biodiversity response to climate change. From Hughes (2000).
Physiological response
All flora and fauna live within their own unique set of physical constraints dictated by the
abiotic environment. Temperature is an important component of the environment (Portner and
Farrell 2008). Increased temperatures challenge the performance of organisms by affecting
growth, development, reproduction, foraging, immune competence, behaviors and
competitiveness (Portner and Farrell 2008). The thermal operation range for most species is
likely to be as narrow as possible in order to minimize maintenance costs; therefore, small
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changes to global temperatures may have large effects on physiological function (Portner and
Farrell 2008). Species in warm Florida climates have evolved under conditions of less
temperature fluctuation and thus are likely to be even more susceptible to climate change
(Deutsch and others 2008). Ectotherms (fish, amphibians, reptiles) are also highly susceptible to
increased temperature, because of their limited ability to control body temperatures (Somero
2011). "Thermal tolerances of many organisms have been shown to be proportional to the
magnitude of temperature variation they experience: lower thermal limits differ more among
species than upper thermal limits, and upper thermal tolerance is often positively related to
acclimatory ability" (Williams and others 2008).
Physical stress is not limited to temperature. Shifts in carbon dioxide concentration,
disease, hypoxia, eutrophication, salinity levels, ocean acidification and precipitation also
directly affect metabolism and development in animals and plants (Hughes 2000, Portner and
Farrell 2008). For example, many marine species are experiencing difficulty with calcification,
photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and reproduction brought on by increased ocean acidity
(Figure 1.1-21).
Figure 1.1-21. Representative examples of measured impacts of ocean acidification on major groups of marine biota
derived from experimental manipulation studies. From Doney and others (2009).
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Among plants, some species are taking advantage of increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere by increasing their rates of photosynthesis, although in general other limiting factors
(water, nitrogen, phosphorous) temper this CO2 fertilization effect (Reviewed in Hughes 2000).
In addition, higher temperatures can stress metabolic processes in plants (Chaves and others
2011). Further, as observed along Florida's coast, salt water intrusion is causing reproductive
failure and adult mortality among many coastal forest tree species (Ross and others 1994,
Williams and others 2003).
Case Study - Physiologic response in sea turtles
Photo: green sea turtle, www.franslanting.com, Graph: Standora and Spotila (1985).
The graph on the right shows the relationship between mean turtle nest temperature and the
percent of female green sea turtle hatchlings produced in nests on a Costa Rican beach (Standora
and Spotila 1985). In this study, temperatures below 28.0 C produced a maximum of 10%
females while temperatures above 30.3 C produced a minimum of 90% females (Standora and
Spotila 1985). Temperature-dependent sex determination are common among sea turtle species
and is one reason that sea turtles are vulnerable to climate change (Poloczanska and others 2009).
Higher temperatures in turtle nests are already leading to skewed sex ratios at a number of
locations (Poloczanska and others 2009). With global temperature predictions of a 20C increase
by 2100, sex ratio skew is predicted to become more widespread (Poloczanska and others 2009).
Highly skewed ratios may lead to a shortage of males needed to sustain turtle populations.
Scientists are currently debating the exact number of males needed to maintain healthy
populations (Poloczanska and others 2009); however most are concerned that thresholds may be
quickly crossed and that a crisis will occur for these highly imperiled species (Poloczanska and
others 2009). Many other species, such as American Crocodiles, have temperature-dependent sex
determination and may be similarly affected by climate change.
More information about this case study:
Poloczanska ES and others. 2009. Vulnerability of marine turtles to climate change. Advances in
Marine Biology(56):151-211.
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Distributional response
Figure 1.1-22. Upslope migration of the average position of plants on mountain slopes. From Breshears and others
(2008).
Under warming temperatures, many species are expected to move upwards in elevation or
towards the poles in order to follow their associated climates (Hughes 2000). A review of the
trends in over 1,000 species revealed that species are moving poleward at an average rate of
6.1 km per decade (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Other changes in the environment, such as
changes in rainfall and seasonality will also induce movement. These shifts will lead to changes
in species home ranges, distributions, migration routes, and species invasions. The frequency and
magnitude of these changes depend on whether the species-specific climate niche is important to
the sustainability of species (Wiens and others 2010) and that species can identify changes and
move appropriately. Indeed this pattern is proving to hold true for many species. There have
been observed changes in the distribution of butterflies, birds, and many other species (Reviewed
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in Visser 2008). Range shifts appear to be common among species that live in regions of extreme
climate and among those capable of moving (Hughes 2000). Many upslope migrations have been
observed among mountain zone plants as climate conditions move upslope (Figure 1.1-22).
In the Andes, trees are moving upslope at a rate of 2.5–3.5 vertical meters per year
(Feeley and others 2011). Dramatic changes in the ranges of mammals (Maiorano and others
2011), birds (Stralberg and others 2009), invertebrates (King and others 2011), and others have
been predicted around the world.
In Florida, sea grass communities are reorganizing their distributions as a result of
tracking changes in freshwater availability (Herbert and others 2011). The distribution of
mangroves (Figure 1.1-23) ebbs north and south along the Florida Peninsula determined by
freeze cycles (Stevens and others 2006). However, if climate change causes winter freezes to
become less common these native trees and their associated species may be able to move north
replacing salt marsh on a more permanent basis (Stevens and others 2006). Changes in
grasshopper species distributions along Florida's Atlantic coast have been observed resulting
from phenological changes in salt marsh grass (Wason and Pennings 2008).
Figure 1.1-23. Mangrove. Photo: Katie Fuller.
Because species distributions are rapidly shifting under climate change (Solomon and
others 2007, Rodder and Weinsheimer 2009, Murphy and others 2010), successful non-native
species invasions will increase (Figure 1.1-24) (Walther and others 2009, Gold and others 2011).
Successful invaders will outcompete native species and reduce biodiversity (Walther and others
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2009). This negative influence will be magnified by the weakened state of many native species
as they are stressed by climate changes (Walther and others 2009).
Figure 1.1-24. Influence of climate change on all the sequential transitions of a successful invasion process. From
Walther and others (2009).
In Florida, non-native, invasive species are widespread. Many southern species are
expanding north as temperatures rise (Walther and others 2009). It is estimated that 32.8% of all
Florida plant species are non-native (Wunderlin and Hansen 2008), making it the second worst
state for the number of nonnative plant species in the U.S. (Ward 1990). Hundreds of invasive
wildlife species including reptiles, amphibian, avian, insect, and aquatic species have also
established in Florida (Beck and others no date). Florida has the highest global number of
invasive reptiles and amphibians (Krysko and others 2011).
Non-native, invasive species can cause widespread damage to Florida's native
biodiversity through direct competition, spreading of disease, hybridization, predation, and other
mechanisms. Warming air and water temperatures projected under climate change are expected
to increase successful species invasions and subsequent spread (Walther and others 2009). For
example, Cuban tree frogs (Figure 1.1-25) have spread across Florida from an introduction in the
Keys in 1920's (Rodder and Weinsheimer 2009). The range of this species is expected to
increase as a result of warming winters, leading to the spread across the entire state and beyond
(Figure 1.1-26) in the next ten years (Rodder and Weinsheimer 2009).
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Figure 1.1-25. Cuban treefrog. Photo: Steve Johnson. 2010 distribution map. Map: Monica McGarrity.
Figure 1.1-26. Maps of the potential distribution of Cuban tree frogs as expected for 2020, 2050 and 2080 assuming
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models A2a and B2a conditions. From Rodder and
Weinsheimer (2009).
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Cuban tree frogs outcompete native frogs for resources and also eat them, contributing to
the decline of native Florida species (Rodder and Weinsheimer 2009, Johnson 2010). Another
invasive species example is the Asian green mussel, which has successfully invaded South
Florida and is advancing north with warming ocean temperatures (Urian and others 2011).
Mayan cichlids, a freshwater fish, are also moving northward in Florida from an introduction in
Florida Bay documented in the 1980's (Paperno and others 2008). In fact, many invasive fish
species are established in Florida waters and more are expected with climate change (Idelberger
and others 2011). There are many ways that fish and other wildlife species have been introduced
to Florida; however, the exotic pet trade industry and release by pet owners is the largest source
(Krysko and others 2011, FWC no date).
There are concerns about the expanding and expensive problem of invasive, non-native
plant species in Florida. The Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius) is an invasive upland
species that is prevalent across the state (Knight and others 2011). Originally introduced in South
Florida from South America in the 1880's, it has escaped from cultivation and moved northward
to the Florida/Georgia border. This range expansion in Florida exceeds the comparable latitude
within the native range in the southern hemisphere (Mukherjee and others, in press). The
Brazilian peppertree expansion in Florida is expected to continue and expand east into Texas and
north into North Carolina (Mukherjee and others, in press). Old world climbing fern (Lygodium
microphyllum) is another non-native, invasive species whose range is expanding along Florida's
north-moving frost line (Knight and others 2011).
As many species distributions shift with climate change, the difference between "native"
and "non-native" will be blurred. Range shifts in native species could be interpreted as invasions,
potentially necessitating management action for the preservation of native biodiversity or a
redefinition of what constitutes a native species. It will become more difficult to determine
which species require management intervention and which are welcome changes. "Although this
[challenge] cannot be an excuse to ignore current threats from alien species, plans to control
them should consider the potential consequences that such control might also have for native
species and ecosystems under climate change scenarios" (Walther and others 2009).
Phenology response
Changing patterns in climate are altering environmental cues that many species use to
determine the timing of life cycle events (Hughes 2000). For example, leaf unfolding and
flowering in many plants are associated with changes in air temperature (Menzel and Fabian
1999). Across thousands of species, there has been a documented advancement of the mean date
of springtime wildlife activities by 2.3 days per decade (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Arctic
squirrels have been documented to come out of hibernation 9-13 days sooner than in the
recorded past due to changes in snow melt (Sheriff and others 2011). Many bird species are
changing their migration and breeding dates due to changing environmental cues (Goodenough
and others 2010). Other examples are plentiful: the timing of vegetation development, spawning
date in frogs and toads, return date of migrant butterflies, and egg hatching date in insects
(Reviewed in Visser 2008). Unfortunately, phenological changes typically occur at the species
level, often causing a mismatch in species interactions, such as predator-prey relationships,
pollination, and competition (Hughes 2000). For example, some breeding birds have not been
able to keep up with changes in the earlier springtime emergence of prey species, leading to
reduced reproductive output (Goodenough and others 2010).
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In Florida, some plant species have significantly delayed flowering due to later spring
onset in Florida (Von Holle and others 2010). This response is in sharp contrast to the global
trend for earlier flowering onset with increasing temperatures in the mid and upper latitudes. For
example, the nonnative invasive tree Albizia (Albizia lebbeck) and native Sassafras (Sassafras
albidum) have been recently observed to flower later (Figure 1.1-27) (Von Holle and others
2010). Delayed flowering is not widespread in Florida (Von Holle and others 2010), perhaps due
to the complexity in temperature changes across the state (see above for more on temperature
changes in Florida).
Figure 1.1-27. Sassafras, a tree found in Florida that is flowering later in response to climate change. Photo from
Wikimedia commons.
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This example displays the complex reaction among flora and fauna to changing seasonal cues
under climate change. Von Holle and others (2010) suggest that Florida plants may have
different reproductive cues that those in more northern climates. They postulate that the climate
change-induced increase in the variability of the minimum temperature in the temperate-
subtropical zone is the cause of delayed flowering in Florida plants. Some wildlife species, are
matching global trends in advancing springtime activities. Green and loggerhead sea turtles
median nest dates have become earlier over the last 20 years (Weishampel and others 2010).
Evolutionary response
Anthropogenic (and natural) climate change can also drive evolution and adaptation (Holt
1990). The changes in physiology, distribution, phenology discussed above may lead to rapid
evolution in a species. Evolution is observed when the changes in a species, such as color or food
choices, are heritable (Bradshaw and Holzapfel 2006), that is to say passed down genetically to
decedents. These changes typically occur via phenotypic plasticity, which means that the
expressed trait of a given gene (or set of genes) is flexible and can be expressed in many ways,
such as color or breeding start date. However, variation only feeds evolution if one or few
expressions of a gene translates into more reproductive success among those individuals with
that expression. For example, Canadian red squirrels are reproducing earlier in the spring,
thereby capitalizing on earlier spruce cone production (Réale and others 2003). Evolutionary
change occurs in this species when the squirrels that reproduce earlier realized higher
reproductive success due to more food availability that those that breed later, thus the genetic
coding for this trait is passed to their offspring, leading to evolution in the species. It is crucial to
realize that while selection for existing traits can occur relatively rapidly (e.g., several to 100's of
generations), the emergence of novel traits that might be advantageous in a novel environment
must rely on chance mutations which may take many hundreds of thousands of generations to
occur. It is unclear and difficult to predict how many of today's species will have the ability to
rapidly respond to climate change via evolution (Holt 1990) and some scientists speculate that it
will be a minority (Williams and others 2008). Species with short generation times, large
populations, and rapid population growth rates relative to climate change rates may have better
chances for evolutionary adaptation. Climate change induced micro-evolution has been observed
in color morphs in owls (Karell and others 2011), body sizes in lizards (Bell and others 2010),
and phenological changes in mosquitoes, squirrels and birds (reviewed in Bradshaw and
Holzapfel 2006). Most known changes have been related to seasonal timing, specifically season
length or start (Bradshaw and Holzapfel 2006). In addition, there are more known evolutionary
examples in northern latitudes, likely because seasonal changes are more extreme (Bradshaw and
Holzapfel 2006). However, recent studies showing that tropical species may experience high
levels of climate change impacts (Deutsch and others 2008) that could also lead to evolutionary
adaptation by some species in the tropics as well.
Rapid adaptation in response to climate change does not ensure the long-term persistence
of a species. Scientists studying the rapid change in the timing of springtime egg laying in birds
found that while reproductive timing was evolving in response to earlier spring onset, it could
not keep pace with changes in the availability of caterpillars, sending the entire population into
decline (Nussey and others 2005).
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Extinction
Polar bears (Durner and others 2011), sea turtles (Poloczanska and others 2009), pika
(Beever and others 2011), golden frogs (Pounds and others 2006), harlequin frogs (Pounds and
others 2006) are all species among a growing list that are predicted to go extinct as a result of
climate change (Figure 1.1-28). Roughly a million species are thought to be at risk of extinction
due to climate change (Thomas and others 2004).
Figure 1.1-28. Species known to be at high extinction risk in part because of climate change. (clockwise from upper
left: harlequin frog, Indochinese tiger, green sea turtle, polar bear, northern right whale, arctic fox and in the center:
American pika.)
Because they are already in decline, species of current conservation concern are among
the most imperiled by climate change (Pimm 2008). Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has
identified 1,033 species of greatest conservation need, of which 131 are state listed and 67 are
federally listed endangered species (FWC 2011). The other 835 species are considered species of
concern because they are rare, biologically vulnerable, keystone species or taxa of concern
(FWC 2011). A more variable and changing environment, brought about under climate change
will only aggravate stress on these vulnerable species. Climate change is considered one of the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s greatest challenges in managing and
conserving species of greatest conservation need (FWC 2011). In 2011, FWC revised the Florida
State Wildlife Action Plan to incorporate climate change threats and needs.
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There are a number of species life history characteristics that elevate extinction risk from
climate change: ecothermic or "cold-blooded" species (Somero 2011), species with small ranges
(Ohlemüller and others 2008), montane species (Engler and others 2011), tropical species
(Deutsch and others 2008), high latitude species (Murphy and others 2010), species with small
populations (Brattstrom 1970), island species (Maschinski and others 2011), species that live in
extreme environments (Hughes 2000), marine species that use calcium carbonate (Doney and
others 2009), endemic species (Maiorano and others 2011), coastal lowland species (Oetting and
others 2010), and species with slow life history traits (Webb and others 2002). Many of these
risk factors hold true for other anthropogenic stresses, such as habitat loss and not just climate
change.
Because of the high number of endemic species and species of conservation concern, in
combination with climate change threats, Florida is considered to have a very high number of
species at risk of extinction due in part to climate change. These species include elkhorn coral
(Figure 1.1-29), marine sea turtles, Key tree cactus, Key deer, Lower Keys marsh rabbit, Florida
panther, Florida manatee, gopher tortoise, and a wide array of coastal species.
Figure 1.1-29. Elkhorn coral. Photo: www.diver_meg/Flickr.com.
Elkhorn coral represents a suite of coral reef species that are at great risk of extinction in part
because of climate change (Burke and others 2011). The sensitivity of elkhorn coral is
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particularly worrisome as it functions as an ecosystem engineer, building structural habitat for all
reef associated species (Burke and others 2011).
Because of Florida's extensive coastline and low topography, many species whose
distributions concentrate in coastal habitats and therefore, are at high risk from rising sea levels
(Figure 1.1-30).
Figure 1.1-30. Number of Florida species with at least 50% of its population predicted to be inundated with a 1
meter sea level rise. From Oetting and others (2010).
Over 136 species, 42 of which are Florida endemics, are predicted to lose at least 50% of their
population under a one meter sea level rise (Oetting and others 2010). Of course, higher sea level
rise would increase the number of species affected.
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Case study - Florida Keys Endemics at Risk
The Florida Keys have a large number of endemic species that are currently at high risk of
extinction due to sea level rise and increased storm intensity (See Case Study 1.1-A). Salt water
intrusion is the primary mechanism for habitat loss and change, leaving these species with no
place to live. Evidence of the decline among rare species has already have been documented on
the low-elevation islands of the Florida Keys. At risk species include Key tree cactus
(Pilosocereus robinii); Big Pine partridge pea (Chamaecrista lineata var. keyensis); sand flax
(Linum arenicola); Florida leafwing butterfly (Anaea troglodyta f loridalis); Key deer
(Oedocoileus virginianus clavium); and Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri).
More information on this case study:
Maschinski J and others. 2011. Sinking ships: conservation options for endemic taxa threatened
by sea level rise. Climatic Change 107(1-2): 147-167.
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1.1.3. Special Topics
Synergism among biodiversity threats
The drivers of biodiversity loss do not act in isolation and multiple drivers often interact
to magnify impacts (Pachauri and Reisinger 2007, Williams and others 2008, Secretariat of the
Convention on Biological Diversity 2010). These interactions are likely to have large negative
impacts on biodiversity (Williams and others 2008). For example, reduced freshwater inputs,
storm impacts, and sea level rise interact to reduce oyster reefs along Florida's Big Bend
coastline (Seavey and others 2011). Habitat fragmentation and changing climate regimes interact
to limit the expansions of species (Walther 2010). For example, the endangered conifer Torreya
taxifolia, found on Florida's panhandle, is limited by habitat fragmentation that is expected to
make movement under a changing climate impossible (www.torreyaguardians.org). In addition,
human migration away from Florida's heavily populated coastlines due to sea level rise could
result in significant inland habitat loss and fragmentation further reducing the ability of native
species to adapt to climate changes. The manner in which climate drivers act synergistically,
including how humans adapt or manage themselves under changing climates, as well as changes
in ecosystem processes will significantly influence biodiversity (Figure 1.1-31). Landscapes in
Florida that are currently under greater levels of anthropogenic stress are at higher risk from the
synergistic impacts of climate change. Coastal systems such as mangrove, salt marsh, oyster and
coral reefs; agricultural landscapes; and low-lying islands are at particularly high risk (Pachauri
and Reisinger 2007). Actions to protect valuable coastal property, such as construction of sea
walls and bulkheads may exacerbate problems for coastal species by elimination coastal habitats
and modifying littoral zones.
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Figure 1.1-31. Framework of interactions between climate change, climate processes, impacts, and socio-economic
development, with feedbacks between systems can occur along any of the green arrows. From Pachauri and
Reisinger (2007).
No-analog ecological communities
As individual species respond in unique ways to climate change, a reshuffling of
ecological communities is likely. No-analog communities "result when species occur in
combinations and relative abundances that have not occurred previously within a given biome"
(Hobbs and others 2006). These no-analog communities are expected to alter biodiversity and
ecological function (Hobbs and others 2006, Williams and Jackson 2007, Stralberg and others
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2009, Wiens and others 2011). No-analog communities are expected to be more common in
areas of large climate changes (Figure 1.1-32).
Figure 1.1-32. Analyses of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate-change scenarios (A2 and B1)
suggest that climates with no modern analog may develop by the end of this century. From Williams and others
(2007).
No-analog communities will not necessarily have negative consequences, but monitoring
will be necessary to determine if desirable ecological services and biodiversity are maintained
(Hobbs and others 2011). However, no-analog communities will be difficult to predict and plan
for. This is because "most ecological models are at least partially parameterized from modern
observations and so may fail to accurately predict ecological responses to these novel climates."
(Williams and Jackson 2007) We discuss this challenge more in Chapter 2.1.
CHAPTER 2
2. Future Needs for Biodiversity Management and Conservation
Maintaining ecosystem resiliency is critical to ensure that Florida's biodiversity is able to
cope with the inevitable changes associated with global climate change (Benson and Garmestani
2011, Mori 2011). Resilience is "the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize
while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and
feedbacks" (Walker and others 2004). Managing for resiliency in a changing climate does not
necessarily imply that the current state or even the historic range of variability should be the end
goal (Benson and Garmestani 2011). Rather, managing for resiliency aims to maintain ecological
processes and functions that are critical to preserving biodiversity in the state of Florida.
Resiliency can be improved through Ecosystem Management (EM). In use since the
1980's, EM is a useful framework for managing the composition, structure, and function of
natural ecosystems increasing resiliency (Meffe and others 2002, Grumbine 1994). EM is based
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on collaboratively established vision for future conditions that incorporates ecological,
socioeconomic, and institutional needs (Figure 2-1).
Figure 2-1.Three major contexts of ecosystem management. Adapted from Meffe and others
(2002).
EM is not prescriptive in terms of the specific management actions, but is rather a framework for
how to approach the integration of science, societal values, and management in a dynamic and
flexible manner. Management dynamics and flexibility can be promoted through the use of
Adaptive Management.
Adaptive management is an approach to natural resource management that emphasizes
learning via treating management action as experiments; monitoring and evaluating the response
to actions; and building management knowledge (Allen and others 2011, Meffe and others
2002). Adaptive management is a method for navigating what we know, as well as, what we
don't in a learning framework to best inform and update management actions. Adaptive
management in its most progressive form is called active adaptive management and it follows the
format of a scientific experiment (Figure 2-2).
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Figure 2-2. Active adaptive management cycle. From Conservation Measures Partnership (2007).
Active adaptive management begins with the conceptualization of a problem, in this case the
threats to biodiversity stemming from climate change. This step needs to incorporate the
viewpoints of both ecological and socio-economic stakeholders. The second step is devising an
action plan(s), ideally outlining several management options with clearly defined goals and
measurements of success. Several actions can be carried out at once to more quickly identify the
best method for achieving goals. Clearly defining a monitoring plan aimed at examining the
impact of actions is a critical component of step two. The implementation and monitoring of
action is step three. Management can only be deemed a success or failure by carefully
monitoring impacts of the action (Lawler 2009). Step four is a careful analysis of the monitoring
data, followed by evaluation of results to redesign management actions for improved or further
success. The final step is to document learning and share information so that progress can be
achieved. This step should feed back into the first and thus, continue the iterative process of
improving the management of biodiversity resiliency.
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Structured Decision Making is a form of active adaptive management that "brings
transparency (by stating the objectives explicitly) and rigor (by developing models based on the
best available science) to the decision process (Martin and others 2011). Structured decision
making is useful because it provides a way to identify the optimal choice among several climate
change scenarios and because it can also incorporate dynamic environmental situations, such as
rising sea levels or air temperature (Martin and others 2011). Scenario building and comparison
can not only incorporate multiple climate change trajectories but also explore how socio-
economic and institutional factors will respond to a changing climate. Scenario comparison can
be very useful in finding common ground and widely acceptable decisions in complex situations
(Martin and others 2011, Vargas-Moreno and Flaxman 2011).
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Case Study - Envisioning alternative futures based on strategic habitat conservation principles
Figure: Snapshot of the output on the website: http://geoadaptive.com/everglades/mitse/bin-release/mitse.html for
scenarios B and C. Scenario C being the best potential future with low sea level rise, a proactive government for
conservation, good conservation funding and trend population development (A small amount less than doubling).
This scenario is greatly different than B (High Sea Level rise, Business as usual government, low conservation
funding and double population growth). The green lands represent potential future conservation needed to preserve
critical ecosystems and landscape connectivity.
Most of the Florida's National Wildlife Refuges are located along the coast, where one meter of
sea level rise is expected to result in significant inundation. In a joint effort between the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Service, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
an assessment of the future distribution of species, habitats, and human development across a
variety of different future scenarios for peninsular Florida is underway. Twenty-four scenarios
were created by varying future levels of: climate change, shifts in planning approaches and
regulations, population change, and variations in financial resources conservation.
These scenarios, or alternative futures, integrate the best available scientific information on
climate change with local knowledge and expertise in order to create a suite of management-
relevant scenarios for the region. Stakeholder-based scenarios were conceived not as blueprints
for the future, but rather as learning tools for managing uncertainty. Three future time intervals
were simulated for each scenario: 2020, 2040 and 2060. Each Alternative Future visualizes land
use patterns and landscape transformations such as coastal inundation, urbanization, and
infrastructure changes. Future changes in conservation lands are modeled and/or designed based
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on input from local experts and managers and using the best available ecological information and
data. Conservation strategies were incorporated into the scenarios through using two state
databases that identify lands of critical conservation importance of connectivity value.
In 2012, the scenarios will be extended to include the entire coastline in Florida and several more
inland counties. This effort will inform the conservation planning effort under the Florida
Beaches Habitat Conservation Plan. Additional elements will be added or improved in the
scenario modeling, such as carbon sequestration and carbon accounting; more refined storm
surge modeling; and species and habitats for the Florida Keys.
This scenario-based research investigation aims to better illustrate the challenges and future
conditions decision-makers may need to consider in developing conservation strategies. The
scenarios help managers understand the cumulative impacts of possible decisions across a range
of scales and allow them to form partnerships they may need to better prepare for future changes.
Once the simulations are complete, an online tool will also be available to aid decision-making
by visualizing the scenarios and their potential impacts at the three time intervals. In short, the
scenarios are intended to serve as learning and exploratory tools that enable conservation
managers to better understand the different trajectories of change and the forces that shape them.
For more information:
Vargas-Moreno JC, Flaxman M. 2011. Participatory Climate change scenario and simulation
modeling: Exploring Future Challenges in the Greater Everglades Landscape. Chapter 2 in Karl
H, Scarlett L, Vargas-Moreno JC, Flaxman M(eds.). Restoring and Sustaining Lands. Springer,
New York, New York.
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2.1. Science Needs
The application of active adaptive management to biodiversity conservation under
climate change demands that science take a strong and direct role in management (Figure 1.3-2).
Figure 2.1-1. Integration of scientific information and application to conservation challenges raised by the Earth’s
changing climate as oulined by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. From USGS (2010).
Scientific research is a source for informing management strategeties and generating
measurements of success. Improving application of research to biodiversity conservation under
climate change could be strengthed via enhanced data quality and access, better ecological
models, increased focus on broad patterns and trends, greater understanding of disturbance
regimes and interacting drivers, and more focus on action-oriented research and monitoring
programs.
Climate models/physical drivers needs
Having accurate climate models, built at a variety of spatial and temporal scales
appropriate for assessment impacts on biodiversity in Florida, is essential to adequately assess
the implications of climate change on biodiversity and develop management solutions. This topic
is being addressed by Misra and others in the white paper entitled: Climate scenarios: A Florida-
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centric view, so it will not be discussed further here (Available at:
http://floridaclimate.org/docs/climate_scenario.pdf). However, updating abiotic data sets and
increasing their availability to biologists and natural resource managers is a particular need that
deserves highlighting. Data sets of particular interest in Florida include land cover maps, high
precision elevation data (LiDAR) and hydrology models. Land cover maps should include
human development scenarios under future climate conditions.
Biodiversity assessment needs
The measurement and predictions of impacts of climate change on biodiversity are very
active fields of science. The methods of evaluation are rapidly evolving and constantly
improving. Major areas for continued improvement include the further development of
ecological models, especially species distribution and species interaction models; increased focus
on general patterns and trends in climate change impacts on biodiversity; increased
understanding of the changes in disturbance regimes under climate change; increased
understanding regarding the interaction of climate change drivers; and improved efficiency and
accessibility of monitoring data. To maximize usefulness of these assessments, standardized
climate change scenarios should be used when possible.
Model improvement
Ecological modeling is one of the more comprehensive and flexible methods for
predicting changes to biodiversity under future climate change scenarios (McMahon and others
2011). Species distribution modeling is commonly used to assess impacts on biodiversity
(Thomas and others 2004, Schwartz and others 2006, Mateo and others 2011). This type of
model has improved our understanding of potential trajectories of biodiversity under climate
change. However, these models have also been highly criticized (Mateo and others 2011). The
United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change specifically identified the failure of
species distribution (specifically climate-envelope models and dynamic global vegetation
models) to incorporate the range of processes known to influence species distributions (Solomon
and others 2007).
Model improvement can be accomplished by incorporating a greater range of climate
data and species interactions (Davis and others 1998, Williams and others 2007, Mateo and
others 2011). Models that predict species ranges under changing climate conditions (species
distribution models) typically incorporate contemporary observations to associate a species with
a set of climate conditions and track them into the future. However, using only present day
information may fail to predict ecological responses to the unique climates of the future
(Williams and others 2007). Species may be able to adapt to future climates in novel ways that
are not seen in today's data (Williams and Jackson 2007). Scientists should focus testing the
robustness of models to climate conditions outside modern experience (Williams and others
2007). Model improvement could also be made by refocusing models to highlight sensitivity of
species to climate changes instead of distribution prediction. Paleoecological information could
be used more often to expand the range of the variation (Dawson and others 2011, McMahon and
others 2011). Including species interactions is another way to improve prediction accuracy of
future changes. Unfortunately, species interactions are often unknown or very complex and thus
difficult to include for most species. In general, improved models will depend upon model
development that incorporates biotic variables more effectively (Davis and others 1998).
However, progress is likely as scientists are investigating methods for incorporating interactions
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(Meier and others 2011), species traits (Syphard and Franklin 2010), physiologically based
models (Kearney and Porter 2009), and abiotic interactions (Araujo and Luoto 2007).
Increased focus on general patterns and trends
While significant progress has been made to identify broad trends in the response of
species to climate change (Parmesan and Yohe 2003, Chen and others 2011), more work is
needed, especially in the areas outside of phenology and migration. Parmesan and others (2011)
state that
"It is rarely possible to attribute specific responses of individual wild species to
human-induced climate change. This is partly because human forcing of the
climate is only detectable on large spatial scales, yet organisms experience local
climate. Moreover, in any given region, species' responses to climate change are
idiosyncratic, owing to basic differences in their biology. A further complication
is that responses to climate are inextricably intertwined with reactions to other
human modifications of the environment."
Another reason to focus on broad trends and patterns is that a species-by-species approach will
be extremely time consuming in a world with at least nine million species (Sweetlove 2011).
This is not to say that species-specific approaches will not be extremely useful in some cases,
and evaluation of likely responses of individual species may be valuable for species that are
highly sensitive to impact, those with state and federal listing status, and those that serve as
keystone species, whose sustainability positively facilitates the persistence of other species.
Improved understanding of disturbance regimes
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified the "neglect of changing
disturbance regimes" as a critical science need (Solomon and others 2007). Climate change will
alter many disturbance regimes and may move systems in novel and perhaps unexpected
directions (Turner 2010, Westerling and others 2011). Shifting disturbance regimes is likely to
produce dramatic changes in ecosystems (Turner 2010). For example, the wildfire regime in
Europe is currently changing, fires are now negatively affecting larger areas than they did
historically, leading to changes in impacts of wind and pests that are having lasting impacts on
forest systems (Seidl and others 2011). In Alaska, climate-driven increases in size and frequency
of fire in the tundra is significantly increasing carbon loss and may accelerate atmospheric
greenhouse gas accumulation (Mack and others 2011). Turner (2010) recommends that science
address: "disturbances as catalysts of rapid ecological change, interactions among disturbances,
relationships between disturbance and society, especially the intersection of land use and
disturbance, and feedbacks from disturbance to other global drivers."
Improved understand of interacting drivers
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report states
that one of the critical challenges to identifying impacts of climate change on biodiversity is a
lack of understanding of interaction among biodiversity drivers, especially interactions involving
land management (Solomon and others 2007). This need will be especially great as humans
adapt in novel ways to a changing climate. In Florida, human migration, increased use and
production of biofuels, shifts in agricultural land use, and changes in water use are expected
under climate change and will interact to influence biodiversity. Effective management of
biodiversity requires an understanding of these feedbacks. For example, scientists have found
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that resiliency of Australian coral reefs to climate change impacts is directly tied to the level of
recreational and commercial fishing pressure in the area (Salt 2009). This interaction results from
a climate change driven algae bloom among reefs, which kills coral when left unchecked.
Reducing fishing puts coral reefs in a more resilient position to adapt to other climate changes,
such as increased bleaching. This example emphasizes the connections between climate change
and other human drivers of biodiversity and the need to make holistic assessments of biodiversity
changes over time.
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Case Study - Biofuels and biodiversity
Biofuels. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Biofuels are a new priority in the efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the
production of biofuels may threaten biodiversity (Groom and others 2008). Corn was an early
biofuel option for the production of ethanol; however, recent criticism over its production
methods, net emissions, and costs are decreasing its popularity (New York Times 2011). More
recently, biofuels made from plant wastes or grown from non-food related crops are gaining
attention (Times 2011). Many biofuels, such as oranges, tobacco, and sugar cane have been
proposed and are under development in Florida. Determining the best biofuels for Florida is not
an easy task because each has its own set of costs and benefits. For example, proposed species
such as Jatropha and castor beans have the potential to become invasive (Gordon and others
2011). Two studies provide guidance in biofuel evaluation. Scharlemann and Laurance (2008)
recommend a standardized approach to the comparison of greenhouse gas emissions and overall
environmental impact of all the various biofuels to enable more effective cost/benefit analysis.
Groom and others (2008) offer three guidelines for reducing biofuel production threats to
biodiversity: 1) biofuel resources should be grown with biodiversity-friendly agricultural
practices, 2) the land area needed to grow sufficient quantities of the resource should be
minimized, and 3) biofuels that can sequester carbon should be given high priority.
More information:
Groom MJ and others. 2008. Biofuels and biodiversity: Principles for creating better policies for
biofuel production. Conservation Biology 22(3): 602-609
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Improved efficiency and accessibility of monitoring data
One of the greatest needs in the science of assessing impacts of climate change to
biodiversity is long-term monitoring data. The analysis of long-term data is critical to
identification of patterns of change among species and communities (Hughes 2000). The
National Science Foundation has recognized this need and is actively developing the National
Ecological Observation Network (NEON) project, the nation’s first continental-scale ecological
observatory. This observatory will include 62 sites across the United States aimed at gathering
continental-scale data for a 30-year time period. Information collected will include land cover,
climate change variables, invasive species and biodiversity data. The information gathered from
this project will help scientists to observe climate change impacts across spatial and temporal
scales. Florida is fortunate to have a permanent NEON observatory located within the state, at
the University of Florida’s Ordway-Swisher Biological Station located outside Melrose and a 5
year site at the Disney Wilderness Preserve near Poinciana. Another long-term data monitoring
project called the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research Network, was
initiated in 2000. This program is gathering data on hydrology, climate, and human activities
with the aim of identifying changes in the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE LTER 2011).
Archbold Biological Station may possess the longest time series dataset for scrub habitat in
Florida as monitoring began there in the 1930's (www.archbold-station.org). While these efforts
and others like them are extremely valuable, they do not fill all long-term data required for a
clear assessment of impacts of climate change on biodiversity in Florida. Data gaps include poor
geographic coverage of monitoring sites in some high-diversity biomes, including grasslands,
coastal and marine systems; key taxonomic and functional groups, such as, soil microbial, and
many invertebrate communities (McMahon and others 2011).
Improved data accessibility and standardization of protocols would facilitate wider use in
the scientific community and advance our understanding of the impacts of climate change. Data
accessibility is critical as not every scientist has the good fortune of working in association with
a long-term monitoring program. Enhancing access to the data from these programs would
promote multiple assessments, repeatability, and improved adherence to the scientific process of
discovery. The scientific discovery process relies on transparency in data, methodology, and
analysis. Further, the broad scale nature of global climate change impacts requires that multiple
data set sources be integrated to increase the spatial or temporal scale of analysis.
Standardization of monitoring methodology, such as that implemented by the NEON project,
will improve the compatibility of data.
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Case Study - Designing monitoring plans for adaptive management
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Eyre and others (2011) proposed a framework for adaptive management monitoring of
Australian rangeland that is informative to monitoring Florida ecosystems in the face of climate
change. Their framework applies a hierarchical approach:
1. Targeted monitoring; involving localized field-based monitoring of target species,
addressing specific management questions.
2. Surveillance monitoring; involving broad-scale, field-based sampling of multi-taxa and a
set of habitat and condition attributes.
3. Landscape-scale monitoring; providing regional to national-scale intelligence on habitat
quality and trends in threats to or drivers of biodiversity, with data obtained using
systematic ground-based and remote methods.
The framework aims to provide information on the response of biodiversity to management
actions that is relevant to regional, state and national jurisdictions. The characteristics of the
framework addresses many of the pitfalls that often stall biodiversity monitoring: clarification of
the desired outcomes and management requirements; a strong collaborative partnership that
oversees the administration of the framework and ensures long-term commitment; a conceptual
model that guides clear and relevant question-setting; careful design and analysis aimed at
addressing the set questions; timely and relevant communication and reporting; and, regular data
analysis and review, providing an adaptive mechanism for the framework to evolve and remain
relevant.
More information/Adapted from:
Eyre TJ, Fisher A, Hunt LP, Kutt AS. 2011. Measure it to better manage it: a biodiversity
monitoring framework for the Australian rangelands. The Rangeland Journal 33: 239–253
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2.2. Management Needs
Active adaptive management is widely recommended for addressing the management of
biodiversity in the face of global climate change in Florida (CUES 2008) and elsewhere (Heller
and Zavaleta 2009, Mawdsley and others 2009, Allen and others 2011, Benson and Garmestani
2011). One of the greatest challenges to the application of active adaptive management is that it
advovcates that managers become more experimental and flexiable. A flexible and experimental
approach can be fostered through improved data management, taking action despite scientific
uncertainity, increasing public outreach, enhanced partnership building, enhanced definitions of
biological significance, and improved institutional acceptance of ecosystem dynamics. There are
also several specific strategies that can be implemented to promote the conservation of
biodiversity in the face of climate change, which are discussed below.
Data/information management
Management can be improved with improved access to data and importantly, scientific
interpretations of data for management needs. As mentioned above, science needs more
standardized long-term data and better access to data. Natural resource management should
recognize the importance of data to the adaptive management process and support data collection
through funding, logistical assistance, and data management. Further, the review and
dissemination of scientific research needs to be enhanced to ensure that all stakeholders involved
in the management process have the most up-to-date information and strategies for conserving
Florida's biodiversity.
Taking action in spite of uncertainty
Science will not be able to keep pace with demands of management and will never
completely understand all aspects of biodiversity impacts from climate change. Adaptive
management is specifically designed to allow for management decisions in the face of
uncertainty and incomplete knowledge. This is what is meant by the experimental approach.
Adaptive management is a means to a clearer understanding of management actions and
direction. In addition, Meffe and others (2002) present several ideas for dealing with uncertainty.
First, employ as many people as possible to think holistically about biodiversity impacts from
climate change. Second, develop ecological models that directly inform management and
uncertainty. Third, allow for buffers in management decisions. Fourth, make sure monitoring is
in place before actions are carried out to allow for attribution of changes to action and knowledge
with which to inform management redirection.
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Case Study - Managing Key Deer
Photo: Bill Keogh
The Key deer, a subspecies of the white tailed deer, is the smallest deer race in North America.
This federally endangered species eats a variety of plant species, especially red mangrove, on
low-lying islands of the Florida Keys. Listed as an endangered species in 1967, the population is
estimated to be 500-700 individuals and is considered stable under current conditions. Among
the many threats to the population’s long-term viability is sea level rise, which will impact the
distribution, abundance, and availability of limited freshwater wetlands that are critical for
survival (USFWS 2010). Translocation has been considered as an option to increase the
resiliency of this species. Efforts in the early 2000's that used holding pens to accumulate deer
into their new areas for 3-6 months were deemed successful after an eight month period. The
success of these efforts suggests that pending the availability of suitable habitat, assisted
migration could be a viable option for this species. It would be ideal to keep deer in the original
historic range to reduce the risk of adverse species interactions with other species in the
translocation areas. There is evidence to suggest that habitat does exist on islands in the Florida
Keys that is not fully used by deer (Watts and others 2008). There may also be opportunities for
moving key deer to other Caribbean islands if no local deer and suitable habitat is available. Of
course, an assessment of the potential impact of deer on local species would be necessary before
such actions could be recommended.
More information:
Parker ID, Watts DE, Lopez RR, Silvy NJ, Davis DS, McCleery RA, Frank PA. 2008.
Evaluation of the efficacy of Florida key deer translocations. Journal of Wildlife Management
72(5): 1069-1075.
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Public outreach/ values
Despite overwhelming scientific consensus, the public continues to lag in its acceptance
and understanding of climate change. In 2010, 29% of 1,000 respondents in a nationwide survey
said that they believed that climate change was an unproven theory and 49% believe that science
has serious doubts about climate change (Virginia Commonwealth University 2010). Many
Americans believe that science is not trustworthy when it comes to reporting about climate
change (Borick and others 2011). Further, while many Americans believe that wildlife and
natural resources will suffer negative impacts from climate change, they do not believe that there
is connection between the health of natural resources and the quality of their own live or those of
other Americans in their lifetime (Leiserowitz and others 2011). Management can and will
suffer because the public does not support or understand the reasons for climate change action.
Figure 2-1. Survey results from a Yale University study of 1,000 Americans regarding the
question on the relative harm to people and natural resources from global warming. From
Leiserowitz and others (2011).
Fortunately, Floridians are more likely than the average American citizen to believe that
climate change is happening and believe it is having important impacts on Florida's biodiversity
(Leiserowitz and Broad 2009). Floridians also believe that the government should be doing more
to address threats from climate change (Leiserowitz and Broad 2009). Managers should
capitalize on the interests of Florida's citizens in climate change. For effective management to be
carried out in an experimental format, the public will need to understand active adaptive
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management and support specific actions. Managers can facilitate this by requiring public
reporting by scientists, public data repositories to promote transparency, and creating more
opportunity for citizens to be participants in monitoring programs and the ecosystem
management process.
Partnership building
Because climate change will influence the spatial distribution of species, partnerships
across agency, political, and land ownership lines will need to be enhanced (Griffith and others
2009, Heller and Zavaleta 2009). For example, the California State Legislature created the San
Francisco Bay Restoration Authority. This authority facilitates across agencies to protect
marshes and wetlands in the San Francisco Bay area in part because of threats from climate
change. State and national level agencies are in the best position to facilitate such cooperative
efforts (Griffith and others 2009).
Conserving all of biodiversity
Biodiversity conservation frequently focuses on species hotspots, which are places of
especially high number of species (Hodgson and others 2009). The conservation of biodiversity
would benefit from a holistic approach that focuses are regions that represent the range of
biological units (e.g., ecosystems, genes, ecosystem processes) that contribute to biodiversity
(see Figure 1.0-1). While it makes sense to ensure that places with a large number of species,
especially endemics, are conserved, in the long run, species will move and they will move at
different rates (Parmesan and Yohe 2003, Hodgson and others 2009). This diversity of
movement direction and rates may lead to the cooling of particular species hotspots. Rather than
just focusing on areas with high numbers of species, it is important to protect a balanced
portfolio of biodiversity's component features to ensure long-term persistence of a wide variety
of natural systems (Hodgson and others 2009).
Accepting dynamic systems
Two traditional conservation principles that are likely to reduce biodiversity conservation
effectiveness under a changing climate are 1) "maintain existing or past community
composition," and 2) use "permanently fixed conservation targets (e.g., 10% of given habitat in a
preserve)" (Hodgson and others 2009). Both of these principles assume that ecological
communities function as a stable unit and that stability is good for conservation. However,
ecological communities are dynamic in nature and ecological disturbances are often responsible
for generating and maintaining biodiversity (Reviewed in Turner 2010). The response of species
to climate change tends to occur at an individual level and not at the level of ecological
communities (Hodgson and others 2009). This individual shifting allows for the reshuffling of
ecological communities and thus creates the opening for biodiversity building and maintenance.
Because of the important role of disturbance dynamics to biodiversity, management should resist
trying to maintain the status quo of a landscape or ecosystem. This is especially challenging in
light of endangered species legislation as it calls for the maintenance of individual species. Thus,
careful evaluation of when and where to attempt to maintain existing communities is required.
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Strategies for promoting biodiversity
There are several strategies for promoting biodiversity in the face of global climate
change that should be highlighted for management consideration. Many of the strategies focus on
managing for expected changes in species distributions. Strategy development should reach
beyond these spatial considerations and include species interaction and temporal needs. The
strategies outlined here are not meant to serve as an exhaustive list, but as a baseline for
innovation.
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A basic starting place for any natural resource conservation strategy is the protection of
high quality habitat, as it is considered both fundamental and highly effective (Hodgson and
others 2009, Hodgson and others 2011). In addition, this strategy is considered a low risk, with
little chance for unintended negative consequences (Lawler 2009). "Retaining as much high
quality natural and semi-natural habitat as possible should remain the key focus for conservation,
especially during a period of climate change." (Hodgson and others 2011) Since habitat area is
critical to maintaining biodiversity, the promotion of land conservation is prudent. It is important
to keep in mind that in the face of the habitat changes that climate change will bring, preserves
cannot be static and management strategies need to focus on ways to expand their holdings.
"Species will not be able to survive where they are or shift their distributions to new climatically
suitable areas unless there is sufficient habitat" (Hodgson and others 2009).
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Case Study - Focus on climate change in land acquisition prioritization
Florida Forever's 2011 land acquisition priority plan. Climate change adaptation/mitigation priorities shown as blue
circles. From FDEP ( 2011).
Florida Forever is a state program for land acquisition and natural resource management.
Overseen by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, it is one of the most ambitious
conservation and recreation land acquisition programs in the United States. The focus of the land
acquisition program is to preserve critical natural lands. The program prioritizes land purchases
with best available science, ranking them in terms of functional landscape-scale natural systems,
intact large hydrological systems, significance for imperiled natural communities, and corridors
linking large landscapes (FDEP 2011). In 2008, climate change mitigation/ adaptation value was
added to the ranking criteria. This category prioritizes "lands where acquisition or other
conservation measures will address the challenges of global climate change, such as through
protection, restoration, mitigation, and strengthening of Florida’s land, water, and coastal
resources"(FDEP 2011). This new "Climate Change Lands" category is aimed at acquiring lands
to sequester carbon, provide habitat, protect coastal lands or barrier islands. It has a special focus
on providing sea level rise migration corridors.
More information:
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) 2011. Florida Forever Five Year Plan.
May 2011. Prepared for the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the
State of Florida. Available at:
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/FFAnnual/FINAL%20REPORT%20FF%20-%20May2011.pdf
78 | Page
Increasing or restoring species migration corridors is the most widely promoted climate
change adaptation strategy in the scientific literature (Heller and Zavaleta 2009, Hodgson and
others 2009). The popularity of this recommendation stems from the concern over expected
range shifts. The use of agricultural and urban lands for corridors; the removal of dispersal
barriers, such as roads and culverts; decreasing the distances between reserves; creating buffer
zones around reserves; longitudinal orientation of corridors; protecting riparian habitat and
railway lines in cities; creating corridors that connect coastal and inland habitats; and habitat
restoration are all actions under the broad goal of increasing movement options for species
(Heller and Zavaleta 2009). Fortunately, Florida does have a history and head start in migration
corridor conservation and protection in the Florida Ecological Greenways Network and related
programs and initiatives. This network should be supported and enhanced.
Related to the promotion of migration corridors is assisted migration. Assisted migration
calls for human intervention in facilitating movement of species in the case where migration
corridors do not exist or the species lacks the ability to move on its own (Appell 2009). The
recommended methodology for assisted movement of species is to mimic their natural dispersal
characteristics as closely as possible which typically includes moving individuals from the
leading edge of their current distribution northward (Vitt and others 2009). The use of this
strategy is considered especially desirable where human land use has isolated a species from
potential dispersal pathways (Vitt and others 2009). However, assisted migration is controversial
because of concerns raised over the effectiveness, cost and the potentially negative impacts on
other species in the relocation area (Appell 2009, Lawler 2009). While scientists should carefully
evaluate risks and managers should monitor the ethical and legal validity of such intervention,
this strategy can be an effective tool for preventing species extinction (Sax and others 2009,
Schwartz and others 2009) in more extreme situations.
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Case Study - Assisting the migration of a rare Florida tree
Photo: Constance Toops
The Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) is the world's most endangered conifer (The Nature
Conservancy 1997). Native only to a 65-kilometer length of the Apalachicola River in the
Florida Panhandle, the species began to decline in the 1950s, probably because of fungal
pathogens, and is thought to be "left behind" in a habitat refuge that has prevented its migration
northward. While scientists debate the reasons why this species cannot make its own migration
north in the face of climate change, The Torreya Guardians (a private citizens group), are
attempting “assisted migration” for the species. The group has been cultivating and planting
individual trees north, into North Carolina and Georgia, since the 1990's. The group’s actions to
assist the migration of this endangered tree has generated much controversy. Many scientists do
not believe that this particular species should be moved because they argue that more locally-
based methods for increasing torreya populations exist and would be more effective (Schwartz
2005). In addition, scientists worry that assisted migration puts individuals at the transplantation
site at risk for new diseases, pests, and other unintended consequences. However, not assisting
these trapped species puts them at high risk for extinction. Many ecologists recommend careful
use and study of this climate change management tool.
Adapted from/more information:
Appell D. 2009. Can assisted migration save species from global warming? Scientific American
March 3, 2009. Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=assited-
migration-global-warming
80 | Page
Another strategy for biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change is to reduce
other anthropogenic threats to biodiversity (Parmesan and Yohe 2003, Heller and Zavaleta 2009,
Hodgson and others 2009). This is another management strategy with low risk of unintended
negative impacts (if at all) (Lawler 2009). The mitigation of other threats, such as invasive
species, habitat fragmentation, and pollution will serve to decrease the level of additional stress
on species from climate change (Parmesan and Yohe 2003). Often, the impacts from these other
threats and how to manage them are better understood than climate change impacts and thus, will
provide more conservation value for the dollar (Hodgson and others 2009). "In some instances,
mitigating known threats other than climate change may be sufficient to permit a population to
persist, even if the local climate has deteriorated." (Hodgson and others 2009) For example,
along Florida's coast there is growing scientific evidence that freshwater input is important to the
resilience of several wetland ecosystems (Williams and others 2003, Seavey and others 2011),
thus restoring freshwater hydrology may decrease or slow impacts from sea level rise. In another
example, reducing the threat of invasive species in South Florida is likely to relieve pressure on
native species, thereby increasing the chance that they can adapt to changing hydrological
regimes and sea level rise (Steve Johnson, University of Florida, personal communication).
Whatever actions are taken, they should begin today and be carefully integrated into a
framework of adaptive and ecosystem management. Ecological systems are changing and time is
of the essence in the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem function (Heller and Zavaleta
2009).
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Case Study: Controlling species invasions
Florida has the largest number of established non-indigenous herpetofaunal species in the USA.
Despite current state laws that make it illegal to release any non-indigenous animal in Florida
without first obtaining a permit from state, enforcement is difficult, and no person has ever been
prosecuted for the establishment of a non-indigenous animal species in Florida. Because current
state and federal laws have not been effective in curtailing the ever-increasing number of illegal
introductions, laws need to be modified and made enforceable. At the very least, those
responsible for introductions should be held accountable for clean up of those species for which
they are responsible. Lastly, the creation of an Early Detection / Rapid Response program would
serve to quickly identify newly found introduced species for eradication attempts. Many
Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs) in Florida include Early
Detection/Rapid Response as one of their goals. Public/private partnerships provide for joint
efforts to track and remove early problematic species on both public and private lands, thus
leveraging funding and manpower
Adapted from/more information:
Krysko K and others. 2011. Verified non-indigenous amphibians and reptiles in Florida 1986
through 2010: Outlining the invasion process and identifying pathways and stages. Zootaxa
3028: 1-64.
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CHAPTER 3
3. Economic Opportunities
Figure 3-1. Vintage Florida postcard,. Photo from Wikimedia commons.
Numerous direct economic benefits are associated with conserving Florida’s natural
resources, such as tourism, recreation, and fisheries (Figure 3-1). In addition, Florida’s
biodiversity and natural systems provide significant ecosystem services including freshwater
filtration and storage, timber production, pollination, carbon storage, and a reduction in the
effects of climate change (TNC 2009b). Climate change is anticipated to reduce or eliminate
some of these ecosystem services resulting in a net negative effect (Mooney and others 2009).
Implementing strategies to mitigate impacts on Florida’s ecosystems is recommended to reduce
biodiversity loss, as well as maintain vital ecosystem services and economic benefits for
Florida's citizens. As previously mentioned, adaptive management can be cost effective way to
reduce the negative impacts of climate change on Florida’s natural systems.
Florida’s tourism industry contributes approximately $65 billion annually to the economy
(Visit Florida 2011) and natural resources are one of the major attractions for visitors.
Recreational activities such as hiking and nature viewing provide approximately $1 billion
annually through the Florida State Park System (FWC 2005). In a given year, Florida’s fishing
industry can create more than 500,000 jobs, $12.7 billion in wages, and $3.1billion towards state
revenues (National Ocean Economics Program 2004).
Florida’s coast provides approximately $11 billion annually in coastal protection from
storms, with coastal wetlands serving as “horizontal levees” against hurricanes (TNC 2009b).
Mangrove forests block wave action via their trunk and root systems during storm surges
(Dahdouh-Guebas 2006). In South Florida, the Everglades function as major carbon sink,
offsetting CO2 atmospheric emissions, and are a major freshwater source for the state (Mulkey
and others 2008).
As detailed in earlier sections, climate change is currently affecting natural systems in
Florida, and these effects are expected to intensify. As conservation management resources are
often severely limited (Lawler 2009), efficiency is critical. To increase efficiency, individual
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projects should be prioritized by weighing the effects of climate change on the ecosystem in
conjunction with the value of the ecosystem, species or populations (Lawler 2009). The use of
active adaptive management to maintain Florida's critical ecosystems will benefit both humans
and biodiversity. For example, preserving and/or restoring coastal wetlands and mangrove
forests will mitigate the negative effects of sea level rise on human systems. In another example,
maintaining hydrological flows and therefore the wetland habitats of the Everglades can provide
valuable freshwater and carbon storage for human benefit. Effective adaptive management aimed
at minimizing negative climate change impacts can only be achieved by funding land acquisition
(including easements), restoration, and others methods of habitat protection, as well as
monitoring programs, scientific analysis, ecological modeling and the full process of the adaptive
management experimental learning process. Creative new financial incentives to landowners
should be explored and developed in an adaptive management framework. Such funding is likely
to increase the overall efficiency of conservation and maintenance of ecosystem services by
prioritizing actions with the greatest success and benefit to both humans and biodiversity.
CHAPTER 4
4. Administrative Challenges to Biodiversity Management and Conservation
There are several administrative challenges that currently inhibit the effectiveness of
adaptive management. Challenges can be broadly categorized as logistical, communication,
attitudinal, institutional, conceptual, and educational (Jacobson and others 2006).
Logistical barriers include a lack of funding, time, goals and staff to implement adaptive
management (Jacobson and others 2006). Lack of funding and staff often cited as a barrier to
management progress (Jantarasami and others 2010). Monitoring and analysis is often the largest
cost of the adaptive management process. Scientists and managers need work together to develop
lower-cost monitoring programs with a focus on methodology that could be carried out by
citizens and stakeholder groups (Keith and others 2011). In addition, ill-designed programs may
waste money through monitoring "things that are irrelevant or insensitive to system response, at
levels of precision that are unnecessary" (Keith and others 2011). Again, careful design can
improve efficiency.
Time concerns are also critical in addressing climate change impacts. Climate changes
are happening at a rapid pace and are expected to accelerate (Solomon and others 2007).
Management, stakeholders, and science will need to work together to aggressively experiment
with management innovations. Large government agencies often find change difficult
(Jantarasami and others 2010) and tend to try one new idea at a time (Keith and others 2011).
Multiple management strategies will need to be addressed simultaneously to optimize
implementation and to keep up with biodiversity needs.
Communication barriers include a need for external collaborative partnerships, improved
stakeholder support and communication, improved scientific communication with managers
(Jacobson and others 2006). Keith and others (2011) reviewed a number of strategies for
building more cooperation among stakeholders including building a hierarchy of management
objectives, economic incentives for cooperation, and ongoing negotiation among stakeholders.
Stakeholder involvement early in the management process and improved education for all parties
can alleviate some conflict.
Attitudinal barriers include a lack of stakeholder respect for each other's opinions and
values, a lack of faith in the process, and lack of value in monitoring programs. One reason
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managers and scientists often misunderstand each other is due to self-serving behavior.
"Scientists often oversell their ability to model and predict policy consequences, and sometimes
use policy demands to pursue discovery goals that may never be applied to decision making"
(Keith and others 2011). Conversely, managers often ignore scientific uncertainty in order to
simplify communication with stakeholders and then blame the scientific community for failure
(Keith and others 2011). Unfortunately both actions cause misunderstanding and mistrust of both
science and adaptive management. The lack of support and value of monitoring programs is a
significant barrier as adaptive management relies on scientific evaluation (Meffe and others
2002).
Institutional barriers include the culture of stakeholder groups, lack of team building
support, lack of flexibility within institutional mandates. Stakeholder groups, even those with
institutions, often are not formed in a collaborative framework, which is helpful for group
learning in adaptive management (Jacobson and others 2006). Allen and others (2011) suggest
arenas in which management can focus on building collaborations to increase adaptive
management effectiveness: (1) assessment teams, made up of stakeholders across sectors in a
social-ecological system; (2) non-governmental organizations, which create an arena for trust-
building, learning, conflict resolution and adaptive co-management; and (3) the scientific
community, which acts as a “watchdog,” as well as a facilitator, for adaptive management.
Conservation legislation can also form an institutional barrier, hindering active adaptive
management for climate change impacts on biodiversity. This is due to the single-species and
specific location and/or habitat focus of many laws, especially endangered species and
wilderness legislation at both the federal and state levels (Jantarasami and others 2010). State
and federal agencies need to update interpretation and implementation of these laws to
incorporate a dynamic approach to climate change management.
Finally, conceptual and educational barriers include a lack of clear understanding of
adaptive management and the steps of the process, as well as a lack of training in associated
disciplines. Adaptive management is relatively new and thus is not consistently defined
(Jacobson and others 2006). The relative youth of the adaptive management process also leads to
a lack of understanding among stakeholders that is needed to effectively pursue this management
framework (Jacobson and others 2006).
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Case Study: Institutional barriers to adaptive management
Figure from Linkov and others (2006).
Based on a review of 100 case studies, Walters (2007) found that most adaptive management
programs have failed. Failure stemmed from a lack of experimental approach and serious
problems with monitoring programs if implemented at all. Walters (2007) identifies three main
reasons for widespread difficulties in adaptive management programs:
1) Lack of monitoring resources needed to carry out large-scale experiments;
2) Unwillingness by decision makers to admit and embrace uncertainty in making policy
choices; and
3) Lack of leadership in the form of individuals willing to do the hard work needed to plan
and implement new and complex management programs.
The most important of these three issues has been lack of leadership to carry out the complicated
administrative steps involved in moving a new management vision into actual field practice. The
single most important component that proponents of adaptive management must learn to do in
the future is to learn how to identify and nurture such leaders.
Adapted from:
Walters CJ 2007. Is adaptive management helping to solve fisheries problems? Ambio 36(4):
304-307.
86 | Page
CHAPTER 5
5. Conclusions
Florida has abundant and unique biological resources that are expected to be negatively
affected by global climate change. In fact, Florida is at particularly high risk for climate change
impacts because of its low topography, extensive coastline, and the frequency of large storm
events. Climate change is already making large sweeping changes to Florida's landscape,
especially along the coasts. The drivers of this change are both physical and biological in nature.
Changes in air and water temperature, freshwater availability, salt water intrusion, ocean
acidification, natural disturbance regime shifts (e.g., fire, storms, flood), and loss of land area
have already been observed in Florida. Florida's average air temperature has increased at a rate of
0.2 - 0.40C per century over the past 160 years and is expected to increase around another 50C by
2100. Rainfall in Florida has generally increased by 10% over the last 120 years, and more
frequent heavy precipitation events are expected in the future. Both globally and in Florida,
ocean pH has been lowered 0.1 unit since the pre-industrial period and another 0.3–0.5 pH unit
drop is predicted by 2100. Many of Florida's disturbances regimes such as algae blooms,
wildfires, hypoxia, storms, droughts and floods, diseases, pest outbreaks are already showing
signs of change. Finally, Florida's sea level is currently rising at 1.8-2.4 mm per year and may
rise by another meter by 2100.
Florida's biodiversity is already responding to climate change through changes in
physiology, distribution, phenology, and extinction. Physiological stress is being observed
among marine species through increased pathogens and in reduced rates of calcification,
photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, and reproduction brought on by increased acidity. Northward
movement is becoming more common as a result of temperature shifts. Unfortunately, for
Florida species movement brings increased risk for invasions by non-native species, such as the
Cuban treefrog. Turtle nesting and tree flowering dates are starting to shift earlier in time to keep
pace with increasing temperatures in Florida. Climate change also brings elevated extinction
risks for Florida's numerous endemic species and species of conservation concern.
Maintaining species and ecosystem resiliency is critical to conserving Florida's
biodiversity, and active adaptive management can serve as a framework to achieve this goal. The
application of adaptive management demands that science take a leading role in management. As
we have outlined here, the scientific research needs are to improve ecological modeling
methodology and application; focus more on general climate change impacts patterns and trends;
improve the understanding of disturbance regimes and the interactions of climate drivers; and
enhance monitoring programs. Resource management can have a leading role, especially in
embracing an experimental and flexiable approach. Support is also needed for managers to
improve data management and infrastructure; embrace and work openly with uncertainity,
engage in more climate change related public outreach; and reach out to other management
87 | Page
agencies across political and bureaucratic boundaries. Management and science together need to
promote the conservation of habitat; create migration corridors;; consider the use of assisted
migration and other adaptation strategies; reduce other anthropogenic threats to biodiversity and
promote stragety development that is both creative and experimental.
Fortunately, there are numerous agencies, institutions, and scientists in Florida that can
facilitate both improved scientific research and management of climate change impacts on
biodiversity. Federal programs such as the White House's Interagency Climate Change
Adaptation Task Force and the Department of Interior's Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
are being implemented to enable holistic adaptive management across state borders. Within
Florida, The Fish and Wildlife Commission, Water Management Districts, and Florida Oceans
and Coastal Council should continue to work across county and habitat borders with Florida
research scientists and non-profit organizations to promote active adaptive management
approaches to protecting biodiversity. These local, state and federal partners and resources are
listed in Appendix 2.
Numerous direct economic benefits are associated with conserving Florida’s natural
resources, such as tourism, recreation, and fisheries. In addition, Florida’s biodiversity and
natural systems provide significant ecosystem services and aesthetic values that benefit all the
citizens of Florida. To develop effective active adaptive management in Florida, several
administrative challenges need to be addressed such as current interpretation of legislation, lack
of funds, stakeholder conflict, self-serving behavior, and the pace of change. "The challenge to
researchers is to shift their focus from discovery to the science of implementation, while
managers and policy-makers must depart from their socio-political norms and institutional
frameworks to embrace new thinking and effectively utilize the wealth of powerful new
scientific tools for learning by doing" (Keith and others 2011). Structured and transparent
decision making can unlock these options for science and management to effectively address
Florida's biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change.
88 | Page
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Appendix 1- Lists of Species of Conservation and Management Concern
A1.1. FWC Managed Species List
American Alligator
American Crocodile
Bald Eagle
Black Bear
Freshwater Turtles (18 species )
Gopher Tortoise
Manatee
Florida Panther
Sea Turtles
Waterfowl (including Mottled Duck, Wood Duck, 20 species of Winter and Migratory
Waterfowl, Mallard)
White-tailed Deer
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A1.2. FWC Nonnative Species List
(known to be "established" and breeding in Florida)
Mammals:
House Mouse
Black Rat
Norway Rat
Nine-banded Armadillo
Coyote
Red Fox
Sambar Deer
Pallas Mastiff Bat
Rhesus Monkey
Mexican Red-billed Squirrel
Vervet Monkey
Squirrel Monkey
Elk
Nutria
Capybara
Gambian Pouch Rat
Feral Cats
Birds:
Scarlet Ibis
Muscovy Duck
Purple Swamphen
White-winged Dove
Chestnut-fronted Macaw
Budgerigar
Monk Parakeet
Hill Myna
Reptiles:
Red-eared slider
Spectacled Caiman
African Redhead Agama
Giant Ameiva
Brown Anole
Hispaniolan Green Anole
Puerto Rican Crested Anole
Largehead Anole
Bark Anole
Knight Anole
Cuban Green Anole
Jamaican Giant Anole
Brown Basilisk
Oriental Garden Lizard
Rainbow Lizard
Giant Whiptail
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Mexican Spinytail Iguana
Black Spinytail Iguana
Tokay Gecko
Tropical House Gecko
Common House Gecko
Mediterranean Gecko
Indo-Pacific Gecko
Green Iguana
Northern Curlytail Lizard
Red-sided Curlytail Lizard
Butterfly Lizard
Many-lined Grass Skink
Giant Day Gecko
Texas Horned Lizard
Ocellated Gecko
Ashy Gecko
Nile Monitor
Common Boa
Burmese Python
Brahminy Blind Snake
Amphibians:
Cuban Treefrog
Giant Toad
Greenhouse Frog
Coqui
Fish:
Black Acaria
Butterfly Peacock
Jaguar Guapote
Spotted Tilapia
Blue Tilapia
Clown Knifefish
Mayan Cichlid
Suckermouth Catfish
Brown Hoplo
Common Carp
Midas Cichlid
Swamp Eel
Bullseye Snakehead
Grass Carp
Oscar
Walking Catfish
Piranha
Lionfish
+ may species of plants
107 | Page
A1.3. Florida's Endangered and Threatened (Imperiled) Species List
Common Name Scientific Name Status
FISH
Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus SSC
Blackmouth shiner Notropis melanostomus ST
Bluenose shiner Pteronotropis welaka SSC
Crystal darter Crystallaria asprella ST
Gulf sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus
[=oxyrhynchus] desotoi
FT
Harlequin darter Etheostoma histrio SSC
Key silverside Menidia conchorum ST
Lake Eustis pupfish Cyprinodon hubbsi SSC
Okaloosa darter Etheostoma okalossae FE
Rivulus Rivulus marmoratus SSC
Saltmarsh topminnow Fundulus jenkinsi SSC
Shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum FE
Smalltooth sawfish Pristis pectinate FE
Southern tessellated darter Etheostoma olmstedi
maculaticeps
SSC
AMPHIBIANS
Florida bog frog Lithobates okaloosae SSC
Frosted flatwoods salamander Ambystoma cingulatum FT
Georgia blind salamander Haideotriton wallacei SSC
Gopher frog Lithobates capito SSC
Pine barrens treefrog Hyla andersonii SSC
Reticulated flatwoods salamander Ambystoma bishopi FE
REPTILES
Alligator snapping turtle Macrochelys temminckii SSC
American alligator Alligator mississippiensis FT(S/A)
American crocodile Crocodylus acutus FT
Atlantic salt marsh snake Nerodia clarkii taeniata FT
Barbour’s map turtle Graptemys barbouri SSC
Bluetail mole skink Eumeces egregius lividus FT
Eastern indigo snake Drymarchon corais couperi FT
Florida brownsnake1 Storeria victa ST
Florida Keys mole skink Eumeces egregius egregius SSC
Florida pine snake Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus SSC
Gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus ST
Green sea turtle Chelonia mydas FE
Hawksbill sea turtle Eretmochelys imbricata FE
Kemp’s ridley sea turtle Lepidochelys kempii FE
Key ringneck snake Diadophis punctatus acricus ST
Leatherback sea turtle Dermochelys coriacea FE
Loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta FT
Peninsula ribbon snake1 Thamnophis sauritus sackenii ST
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Red rat snake1 Elaphe guttata SSC
Rim rock crowned snake Tantilla oolitica ST
Sand skink Neoseps reynoldsi FT
Short-tailed snake Stilosoma extenuatum ST
Striped mud turtle1 Kinosternon baurii ST
Suwannee cooter Pseudemys suwanniensis SSC
BIRDS
American oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus SSC
Audubon’s crested caracara Polyborus plancus audubonii FT
Bachman’s wood warbler Vermivora bachmanii FE
Black skimmer Rynchops niger SSC
Brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis SSC
Burrowing owl Athene cunicularia SSC
Cape Sable seaside sparrow Ammodramus maritimus
mirabilis
FE
Eskimo curlew Numenius borealis FE
Everglade snail kite Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus FE
Florida grasshopper sparrow Ammodramus savannarum
floridanus
FE
Florida sandhill crane Grus canadensis pratensis ST
Florida scrub-jay Aphelocoma coerulescens FT
Ivory-billed woodpecker Campephilus principalis FE
Kirtland’s wood warbler Dendroica kirtlandii FE
Least tern Sterna antillarum ST
Limpkin Aramus guarauna SSC
Little blue heron Egretta caerulea SSC
Marian’s marsh wren Cistothorus palustris marianae SSC
Osprey Pandion haliaetus SSC
Piping plover Charadrius melodus FT
Red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis FE
Reddish egret Egretta rufescens SSC
Roseate spoonbill Platalea ajaja SSC
Roseate tern Sterna dougallii dougallii FT
Scott’s seaside sparrow Ammodramus maritimus
peninsulae SSC
Snowy egret Egretta thula SSC
Snowy plover Charadrius alexandrinus ST
Southeastern American kestrel Falco sparverius paulus ST
Tricolored heron Egretta tricolor SSC
Wakulla seaside sparrow Ammodramus maritimus
juncicola SSC
White-crowned pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala ST
Whooping crane Grus americana FE(XN)
White ibis Eudocimus albus SSC
Worthington’s marsh wren Cistothorus palustris griseus SSC
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Wood stork Mycteria americana FE
MAMMALS
Anastasia Island beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus phasma FE
Big Cypress fox squirrel Sciurus niger avicennia ST
Caribbean monk seal Monachus tropicalis FE
Choctawhatchee beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus
Allophrys
FE
Eastern chipmunk Tamias striatus SSC
Everglades mink Neovison vison evergladensis ST
Finback whale Balaenoptera physalus FE
Florida black bear3 Ursus americanus floridanus ST
Florida mastiff bat Eumops glaucinus floridanus ST
Florida mouse Podomys floridanus SSC
Florida panther Puma [=Felis] concolor coryi FE
Florida salt marsh vole Microtus pennsylvanicus
dukecampbelli FE
Gray bat Myotis grisescens FE
Gray wolf Canis lupus FE
Homosassa shrew Sorex longirostris eonis SSC
Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae FE
Indiana bat Myotis sodalis FE
Key deer Odocoileus virginianus
clavium FE
Key Largo cotton mouse Peromyscus gossypinus
allapaticola FE
Key Largo woodrat Neotoma floridana smalli FE
Lower Keys rabbit Sylvilagus palustris hefneri FE
North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis FE
Perdido Key beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus
trissyllepsis FE
Red wolf Canis rufus FE
Rice rat Oryzomys palustris natator FE1
Sanibel Island rice rat Oryzomys palustris sanibeli SSC
Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis FE
Sherman’s fox squirrel Sciurus niger shermani SSC
Sherman’s short-tailed shrew Blarina carolonensis shermani SSC
Southeastern beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus
niveiventris FT
Sperm whale Physeter catodon
[=macrocephalus] FE
St. Andrew beach mouse Peromyscus polionotus
peninsularis FE
West Indian manatee Trichechus manatus FE
INVERTEBRATES
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CORALS
Elkhorn coral Acropora palmate FT
Pillar coral Dendrogyra cylindricus ST
Staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis FT
CRUSTACEANS
Black Creek crayfish
(Spotted royal crayfish) Procambarus pictus SSC
Panama City crayfish Procambarus econfinae SSC
Santa Fe Cave crayfish Procambarus erythrops SSC
Squirrel Chimney Cave shrimp Palaemonetes cummingi FT
INSECTS
American burying beetle Nicrophorus americanus FE
Miami blue butterfly Cyclargus thomasi
bethunebakeri
ST
Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly Heraclides aristodemus
ponceanus
FE
MOLLUSKS
Chipola slabshell (mussel) Elliptio chiplolaensis FT
Fat threeridge (mussel) Amblema neislerii FE
Florida treesnail Liguus fasciatus SSC
Gulf moccasinshell (mussel) Medionidus penicillatus FE
Ochlockonee moccasinshell (mussel) Medionidus simpsonianus FE
Oval pigtoe (mussel) Pleurobema pyriforme FE
Purple bankclimber (mussel) Elliptoideus sloatianus FT
Shinyrayed pocketbook (mussel) Lampsilis subangulata FE
Stock Island tree snail Orthalicus reses FT
List Abbreviations:
FWC = Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
FE = Federal Endangered
FT = Federal Threatened
ST = State Threatened
SSC = State Species of Special Concern
F(XN) = Federally listed as an experimental population in Florida
FT(S/A) = Federally Threatened due to similarity of appearance
111 | Page
A1.4. FWC Priority Habitats
Coral reef
Softwater Stream
Sandhill
Spring and Spring Run
Scrub
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation
112 | Page
Appendix 2- Resources for Biodiversity Management
Taking an adaptive, ecosystem-based management approach to preserve biodiversity in
the face of climate change will require a broad scale effort, undertaken at all levels of
management. Federal, state, and local resources will be called upon to gather information,
educate private and public sectors, promote proactive management ideas and tools, carry out
actions, and evaluate progress.
Fortunately, there are numerous agencies, institutions, and scientists addressing
biodiversity needs in Florida and beyond that can be utilized to assist management in the face of
climate change. The challenge is identifying who is doing what and how the various sources of
information and support can work together. Ultimately, meeting the needs of biodiversity in the
face of a rapidly changing climate will require the collaboration of biodiversity management
agencies at every level of government and across a wide array of scientists and policy specialists.
A2.1. Federal Agencies
National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy
The National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is currently being
developed with input from a broad range of federal, state, and tribal partners, with active
engagement with non-government organizations, industry groups, and private landowners. This
effort is the result of a congressional mandate passed in 2010 to develop a national strategy for
dealing with climate change. It is chaired by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Ocean and
Atmospheric Administration, and New York Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources.
Website: http://www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov/index.php
Contact:
Office of the Science Advisor
Attn: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
113 | Page
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203
Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force
Co-chairs of the Climate Adaptation Task Force include White House Council on
Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This group is comprised of over
200 federal agency staff. The group issues recommendations to President Obama for how
Federal Agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to respond to the
impacts of climate change.
Website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/adaptation
U.S. Global Change Research Program
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates and integrates federal
research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. The mission of
this program is to build a knowledge base that informs human responses to climate and global
change through coordinated and integrated federal programs of research, education,
communication, and decision support.
Website: http://www.globalchange.gov
Contact:
U.S. Global Change Research Program
Suite 250
1717 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20006
The US Global Change Research Information Office
A program within the USGCRP, this office provides access to data and
information on climate change research, adaptation/mitigation strategies and
technologies, and global change-related educational resources on behalf of the various
US Federal Agencies that are involved in the US Global Change Research Program.
Website: http://www.gcrio.org/
Contact:
U.S. Global Change Research Information Office
Suite 250, 1717 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20006.
NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISAs)
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Within the Climate Program Office of NOAA, the RISA program supports research that
addresses complex climate sensitive issues of concern to decisionmakers and policy planners at
a regional level. RISA research team members work closely with natural resource managers and
land planners, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector within each region to
advance new research on how climate variability and change will impact the environment,
economy, and society, and develop innovative ways to integrate climate information into
decisionmaking. Research topics include fisheries, water, wildfire, agriculture, public health and
coastal restoration. Team members are primarily based at universities though some of the team
members are based at government research facilities, nonprofit organizations or private sector
entities. In Florida, The Florida Climate Institute, Southeast Climate Consortium are RISA-
sponsored institutions.
Website: http://www.climate.noaa.gov/cpo_pa/risa
Contact:
Adam Parris
Program Manager
Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment
ph: (301) 734-1243
fax: (301) 713-0518
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LLC)
A Department of Interior agency, each of the twenty-one LCC's will be guided by a
steering committee with members from resource management and science agencies (federal,
state, tribal and local). Nongovernmental organizations, universities, industry and others may
contribute to the cooperative effort and may be part of the steering committee in some LCCs.
LCC products may include resource assessments, climate model applications to appropriate
scale, vulnerability assessments, inventory and monitoring protocols, and conservation plans and
designs.
LCCs are to collaborate with academia, other Federal agencies, local and state partners,
and the public and will coordinate with CSCs and RISAs in their regions. LCCs can be a
particularly useful resource for states as they revise their State Wildlife Action Plans. States
could use the products generated by LCCs to identify priority resource management issues, gaps
in scientific knowledge, data sharing needs and strategies for adaptation to climate change and
other large-scale landscape stressors. Florida is covered by three LCC units: Peninsular Florida
(most of peninsular Florida), The South Atlantic (North Florida), and Gulf Coastal Plains and
Ozarks (Florida Panhandle)
Website:
http://peninsularfloridalcc.org
Contact:
Tim Breault, Coordinator, Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
620 South Meridian Street, Mail Stop 2
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
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Phone: (850) 617-9415
timothy_breault@fws.gov
Climate Science Centers (CSC)
A Department of Interior agency, the eight Regional Climate Science Centers provide
scientific information, tools and techniques that land, water, wildlife and cultural resource
managers can apply to anticipate, monitor and adapt to climate and ecologically-driven responses
at regional-to-local scales. CSCs deliver basic climate-change-impact science to Landscape
Conservation Cooperatives within their respective regions, including physical and biological
research, ecological forecasting, and multi-scale modeling. CSCs prioritize their delivery of
fundamental science, data and decision-support activities to meet the needs of the LCCs. This
includes working with the LCCs to provide climate-change-impact information on natural and
cultural resources and to develop adaptive management and other decision-support tools for
managers. In addition, CSCs will coordinate with RISAs and anticipate using model results and
projections produced by RISAsupported scientists. Florida is in the Southeast Climate Science
Center, housed at North Carolina State University.
Contact:
Sonya A. Jones
DOI Southeast Climate Science Center
Telephone: 770-409-7705
e-mail: sajones@usgs.gov
National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
A Science Center within the U.S. Geological Survey, it will work with the Landscape
Conservation Cooperatives and Climate Science Centers to 1) implement partner-driven science
to improve understanding of past and present land use change, 2) develop relevant climate and
land use forecasts, and 3) identify lands, resources, and communities that are most vulnerable to
adverse impacts of change from the local to global scale. The Center will support research and
monitoring initiatives of carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles, and their effects on ecosystems. In
addition, they will provide tools for managers to develop, implement, and test adaptive
strategies, reduce risk, and increase the potential for ecological systems to be self-sustaining,
resilient, and adaptable to environmental changes.
Website: http://nccwsc.usgs.gov
Contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 300
Reston, VA 20192
National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration runs this information service is aimed
at improving the nation’s capacity to proactively manage droughtrelated risks, by providing
those affected with the best available information and tools to assess the potential impacts of
116 | Page
drought, and to better prepare for and mitigate the effects of drought. U.S. Drought Portal is an
interactive system to: provide early warning about emerging and anticipated droughts; assimilate
and quality control data about droughts and models; provide information about risk and impact
of droughts to different agencies and stakeholders; provide information about past droughts for
comparison and to understand current conditions; explain how to plan for and manage the
impacts of droughts; provide a forum for different stakeholders to discuss droughtrelated issues.
Website: www.drought.gov
Contact:
NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory
325 Broadway
Boulder, Colorado
Climate Change and Water Working Group
This working group is a Joint effort by principal water resources management agencies
and the earth science data collection agencies of the U.S. government. The group works with
Federal and nonFederal research programs to find ways for their programs to assist in
implementing the research plan and to generate collaborative research efforts across members of
the water management and scientific communities to close these gaps.
Website: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/ccawwg
Contact: See website
National Phenology Network (NPN)
The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) monitors the influence of climate on
the phenology of plants, animals, and landscapes. The USA National Phenology Network brings
together citizen scientists, government agencies, non-profit groups, educators and students of all
ages to monitor the impacts of climate change on plants and animals in the United States. The
Florida network is being managed by George R. Kish, from USGS Tampa Office
(gkish@usgs.gov). The Florida network held a Florida Phenology Workshop in 2009,
information can be found at http://www.usanpn.org/node/5971
Website: www.usanpn.org
Contact:
USA National Phenology Network
National Coordinating Office
1955 E. Sixth St., Tucson, AZ 85721
Phone: (520) 626-3821
A2.2. State Agencies
Florida Oceans and Coastal Council
Coordinated through Florida State's Department of Environmental Protection, the
Council was created by the 2005 Florida State Legislature through The Oceans and Coastal
117 | Page
Resources Act. The Council is charged each year with developing priorities for ocean and coastal
research and establishing a statewide ocean research plan. The Council also coordinates public
and private ocean research for more effective coastal management.
The Council is comprised of three non-voting members and fifteen voting members
appointed by the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/oceanscouncil
Contact:
Rebecca Prado
(850)245-2103
Rebecca.Prado@dep.state.fl.us
Florida Department Environmental Protection's Florida Forever Program
Florida Forever is the state’s current blueprint for conserving our natural resources.
The Florida Forever program conserves Florida's natural and cultural heritage, provides urban
open space, and manages the land acquired by the state. The program has adopted a Climate
Change Lands project that targets lands vulnerable under climate change through
protection, restoration, mitigation, and strengthening of Florida’s land, water, and coastal
resources. This project includes lands that provide opportunities to sequester carbon, provide
habitat, protect coastal lands or barrier islands, and otherwise mitigate and help adapt to the
effects of sea-level rise.
Website: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/fl_forever.htm
Contact:
Florida Forever
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida
Phone: 850-245-2555
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC)
There are several special initiatives programs with in Florida Fish and Wildlife
Commission that will address climate change impacts. Wildlife 2060, Coastal Wildlife,
Landowner Assistance, Wildlife Legacy, Cooperative Conservation Blueprint, and Florida Bird
Conservation Initiative all incorporate or have the potential to incorporate climate change
impacts on Florida's biodiversity in a positive manner.
Contact:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
620 S. Meridian St.
Tallahassee, FL
32399-1600
(850) 488-4676
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Wildlife 2060
This program focuses on wildlife habitat loss as a result of human
development - urban and agricultural. This program does discuss climate change,
especially how it will impact coastal areas- especially the balance between this
change and ever growing human populations along the coast. This program and
associated report could be expanded to discuss and prepare for ways in which
climate change will influence human development and therefore anticipate hot
spots of pressure on wildlife habitat.
Website: http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/wildlife-2060
Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative
A FWC-led, multi-agency strategy to address coastal issues that affect
wildlife and their habitats while considering human needs. It has the broad goal
of ensuring the long-term conservation of native wildlife in coastal ecosystems
throughout Florida in balance with human activities. The program's goal is
"ensuring the long-term conservation of native wildlife in coastal ecosystems
throughout Florida in balance with human activities." The strategies championed
in this program can all incorporate climate change impacts, especially in light of
the coastal nature of Florida's landscape. The education and outreach programs,
regulation organization, and identification of threats to wildlife and habitats under
this program can all have a climate change component.
Website: http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/cwci
Landowner Assistance Program
A valuable tool by which climate change education, impact preparation and
mitigation, restoration, and other actions can be taken. This program could be used
to target those habitat types that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Website: http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/lap
Florida Bird Conservation Initiative
This program is a voluntary public-private partnership that seeks to
promote the sustainability of native Florida birds and their habitats. Though this
program has a narrow focus in comparison to other FWC, birds can be used
throughout Florida as measures of climate change impacts. This program has
already begun address climate change needs through several publications, listed
on their website.
Website: http://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/fbci
State Wildlife Action Plan
Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan is an action plan for conserving all of the
state's wildlife and vital natural areas for future generations. It outlines what native
wildlife and habitats are in need, why they are in need and, most importantly, what