Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and shifts in vegetation communities are changing the effective range and distribution of many native and agricultural species. These habitat shifts impact species and ecosystems.
Climate is an important environmental influence on ecosystems. Warming is likely to force some species to migrate to higher latitudes or higher elevations where temperatures are more conducive to their survival. Similarly, as sea level rises, saltwater intrusion into a freshwater system may force some key species to relocate or die, thus removing predators or prey that were critical in the existing food chain. Negative impacts to species and habitats have already been observed.
Climate change has already been linked to changes in habitats and ecosystems, including species composition, weather patterns and the length of the seasons. As average global temperature continues to warm, these changes will continue. Plans to enhance resilience now can help reduce vulnerabilities and improve the adaptive capacity of habitats and ecosystems.
Grasslands cover approximately 400 million acres of the contiguous United States.Despite their extensive distribution, grasslands and the neighboring deserts that make up more arid regions are sensitive ecosystems that can be vulnerable to extreme changes in temperature and shifts in precipitation. Land trusts are working to manage grasslands for climate change to protect the biodiversity, habitats, and ecosystem services these landscapes provide.
Due to climate change rising air temperatures are already warming freshwater habitats. Some lakes and streams have already experienced water loss due to summer droughts. These, and other changes, are likely to continue and accelerate in the coming decades, and impact water quality and quantity, with negative implications for freshwater ecosystems and the species that rely on these vulnerable habitats. Despite these challenges, land trusts are well positioned to manage rivers, lakes and other freshwater habitats for the multiple benefits – both ecological and economic – they provide.
Climate change has already been linked to changes in wildlife distribution, reproduction and behavior. Enhancing connectivity and “conserving the stage” are critical conservation objectives that can help species adapt to changing conditions.
Shifting seasons mean spring arrives earlier, winters are shorter, and the number of freezing days is declining. These changes impact species and habitat.
Hurricane strength is influenced by sea surface temperature. As sea surface temperatures rise the number of intense hurricanes is also expected to increase.
Land trusts and conservation groups across the country are using geospatial techniques such as mapping and modeling to identify and reduce vulnerabilities to climate change impacts.