Climate change vulnerability analysis and development of adaptation strategies for New Mexico's habitats and species of greatest conservation need

Project #: 1787  –   Updated: January 17, 2011

Project Summary

This project will complete a spatially-explicit analysis of the impacts of climate change on New Mexico’s biodiversity and, through outreach and facilitated workshops, aims to galvanize key decision makers, land managers and wildlife managers to begin taking action to reduce these impacts. Our specific objectives are to: 1) prepare an assessment of the vulnerability of key conservation areas identified in New Mexico’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, habitats, watersheds, and species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) to ongoing climate change; 2) identify science-based strat...

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Location (by county):
["", "Rio Arriba County (NM), ", "Socorro County (NM), ", "DeBaca County (NM), ", "Lea County (NM), ", " (show more)", "Dona Ana County (NM), ", "Catron County (NM), ", "La Plata County (CO), ", "Santa Fe County (NM), ", "Torrance County (NM), ", "Archuleta County (CO), ", "Cibola County (NM), ", "Eddy County (NM), ", "Hidalgo County (NM), ", "Baca County (CO), ", "San Juan County (UT), ", "Bernalillo County (NM), ", "Mora County (NM), ", "Luna County (NM), ", "Harding County (NM), ", "Valencia County (NM), ", "Chaves County (NM), ", "Quay County (NM), ", "Curry County (NM), ", "McKinley County (NM), ", "Conejos County (CO), ", "Otero County (NM), ", "Dallam County (TX), ", "Roosevelt County (NM), ", "Costilla County (CO), ", "Lincoln County (NM), ", "Sandoval County (NM), ", "San Miguel County (NM), ", "Taos County (NM), ", "Los Alamos County (NM), ", "San Juan County (NM), ", "Guadalupe County (NM), ", "Apache County (AZ), ", "Greenlee County (AZ), ", "Grant County (NM), ", "Las Animas County (CO), ", "Montezuma County (CO), ", "El Paso County (TX), ", "Colfax County (NM), ", "Sierra County (NM), ", "Cochise County (AZ), ", "Union County (NM)", " (show less)"]

Watersheds:
Western Estancia

Congressional Districts:
["", "NM District 03, ", "TX District 16, ", "CO District 04, ", "CO District 03, ", " (show more)", "AZ District 01, ", "NM District 01, ", "TX District 13, ", "UT District 03, ", "AZ District 02, ", "NM District 02", " (show less)"]

Bird Conservation Regions:
Southern Rockies/Colorado Plateau

USFWS Regions:
Mountain Prairie Region, Southwest Region

Project size:
78424530.67 acres

Public Access

Site Name Publicly Accessible
New Mexico Yes

Full Project Description

This project will complete a spatially-explicit analysis of the impacts of climate change on New Mexico’s biodiversity and, through outreach and facilitated workshops, aims to galvanize key decision makers, land managers and wildlife managers to begin taking action to reduce these impacts. Our specific objectives are to: 1) prepare an assessment of the vulnerability of key conservation areas identified in New Mexico’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, habitats, watersheds, and species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) to ongoing climate change; 2) identify science-based strategies and guidelines for managing and protecting habitats for species threatened by climate change; and 3) synthesize and distribute scientific information about known and potential impacts of climate change on the biodiversity of New Mexico to key decision makers and land and wildlife managers.

The project is near completion and we have made significant progress on all fronts. Results of the vulnerability analysis are summarized in two reports (see http://nmconservation.org). The first report documents temperature and precipitation changes in New Mexico over the last 15 years (1991-2005) compared to an earlier baseline period (1961-1990) and analyzes these changes by major habitat types, key conservation areas and the distribution of drought-sensitive species. In addition, the report summarizes 48 known cases of ecological changes occurring across the Southwest that have been linked to climate change.

The second report focuses on watersheds and hydrology, analyzing recent trends (1970-2006) in a combined temperature-precipitation variable, the climate moisture deficit, which is an indicator biological moisture stress; trends in the moisture deficit are summarized by watershed are related to changes in streamflow, snowpack and the number of SGCN that occur in these watersheds.

The analyses presented in these reports provide a conceptual framework for understanding the conservation implications of climate change. This approach and our results enable land managers and conservation practitioners to identify landscapes that may be more or less impacted by recent climate change relative to their conservation importance. This allows land managers to direct immediate attention and resources to high priority landscapes, facilitating a more strategic and focused investment in adaptation measures. To this end, we will be holding a workshop for local land managers and scientists in the Jemez Mountains landscape—one of the most vulnerable to climate change in the state—to identify practical management actions that can reduce the impacts of climate change using a new adaptation planning framework.

We are now preparing a third report that identifies science-based strategies and general guidelines for climate change adaptation, drawing upon the results of our statewide vulnerability assessment and two climate change and adaptation workshops, one held for land managers and key decision makers in Albuquerque in October 2007 and the other scheduled for April 2009 in the Jemez Mountains.

Finally, in addition to the reports and workshops, we have conducted targeted outreach of project results to private and federal land managers, NGOs, federal and state regulatory agencies and the NM Department of Game and Fish.

As a logical extension of this project, we recently launched the Southwest Climate Change Initiative, a collaborative effort between multiple academic, agency and NGO partners. As part of this project, we will extend New Mexico’s climate change vulnerability assessment to the other Four Corner States of Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Based on the results of the regional assessment, we will select pilot landscapes in each of the states (e.g., the Jemez Mountains landscape in New Mexico) as the focus for more intensive climate change adaptation planning. These efforts will use new tools and the best available climate change science to empower local resource managers to identify and implement climate change adaptation strategies that address cross-boundary issues and involve multi-agency collaboration and planning.

Project Assistance & Partnership Opportunities

Funding

We received a grant that provides partial funding for the Southwest Climate Change Initiative (see project description); we are seeking additional support to cover unmet project needs.

Goals and Targets

Primary motivations:

Conservation Mission

Primary goals:

Prepare an assessment of the vulnerability of habitats and species of greatest conservation concern to ongoing and projected climate change.
Progress:

The project will provide vulnerability and threat maps, geospatial datasets and narrative reports. Two of the three proposed reports have been published and are available on the TNC New Mexico Conservation Science website (http://nmconservation.org). The third report and geospatial datasets will be made available in 2009.

Identify science-based strategies that increase resilency (adaptation capacity) of native species populations and ecosystems to local and regional climate change.
Progress:

See project description.

Synthesize, interpret and distribute scientific information about known and potential impacts of climate change on the biodiversity of the Southwest to key decision makers such that it is incorporated into public and private policy.
Progress:

See project description.

Consistent with plans:

Nature Conservancy Ecoregional Plan
State Wildlife Action Plan
Other

Targeted habitats:

    • Aquatic
      • Lakes and Ponds
      • Rivers and Streams
    • Forests and Woodlands
      • Conifer Forests
      • Deciduous Forests and Woodlands
    • Shrublands and Grasslands
      • Alpine and Subalpine Habitats (Meadows, Parklands and Shrublands)
      • Grasslands
      • Shrublands and Steppe
    • Special Types
      • Deserts, Playas and Ash Beds
      • Dunes
    • Wetlands and Riparian Habitats
      • Lowland Riparian Forests and Shrublands
      • Marshes, Bogs and Emergent Wetlands
      • Montane Riparian Forests and Shrublands

Targeted species were not provided for this project.

Actions

Project Actions
Other: Prioritization for Climate Change Adaptation Actions Show/Hide details
Other: Prioritization for Climate Change Adaptation Actions Show/Hide details
Other: Prioritization for Climate Change Adaptation Actions Show/Hide details

Outcomes

Is the success of this project's actions being monitored?   Yes

Please describe your monitoring activity.

We are conducting outreach of project results (maps, spatial layers, information and interpretation) and are tracking use of these in our partners' planning efforts and management actions.

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Organization

The Nature Conservancy - New Mexico
(Non-Governmental Organization)

Primary Contact

Dave Gori  (Director of Science)
The Nature Conservancy
Send email

Partners

  • Dr. Molly Cross - Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Dr. Evan Girvetz - University of Washington
  • Dr. Craig Allen - US Geological Survey
  • New Mexico Department of Game & Fish

Project Photos

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