Incorporating uncertainty about species' potential distributions under climate change into the selection of conservation areas with a case study from the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska

Trevon Fuller, David P. Morton, Sahotra Sarkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This analysis presents a conservation planning framework for decisions under uncertainty and applies it to the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska. Uncertainty arises from variable distributional shifts of species' ranges due to climate change. The planning framework consists of a two-stage optimization model that selects a nominal conservation area network in the first stage and evaluates its performance under the climate scenarios in the second stage. The model is applied to eleven at-risk species in Alaska including the threatened Spectacled Eider and Steller's Eider sea ducks and the polar bear. The 109th United States Congress and 2008 federal budget proposed opening for oil and gas development the "1002 Area" of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which intersects the Plain. This analysis finds that, if Arctic Alaska experiences 1.5 °C of warming by 2040 (as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's A2 scenario), then potential habitat will decrease significantly for eight of these at-risk species, including the polar bear. This analysis also shows that there is synergism between oil and gas development and climate change. For instance, climate change accompanied by no development of the 1002 Area results in an increase of potential habitat for Steller's Eider. However, if development accompanies climate change, then there is a 20% decrease in that area. Further, this analysis quantifies the tradeoff between development and maintenance of suitable habitat for at-risk species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1547-1559
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume141
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

Fingerprint

coastal plains
coastal plain
protected area
Arctic region
conservation areas
uncertainty
climate change
case studies
bear
Ursus maritimus
habitat
planning
habitats
synergism
gases
oil
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
conservation planning
oils
gas

Keywords

  • 1002 Area
  • Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation areas
  • Reserve selection
  • Stochastic programming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

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title = "Incorporating uncertainty about species' potential distributions under climate change into the selection of conservation areas with a case study from the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska",
abstract = "This analysis presents a conservation planning framework for decisions under uncertainty and applies it to the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska. Uncertainty arises from variable distributional shifts of species' ranges due to climate change. The planning framework consists of a two-stage optimization model that selects a nominal conservation area network in the first stage and evaluates its performance under the climate scenarios in the second stage. The model is applied to eleven at-risk species in Alaska including the threatened Spectacled Eider and Steller's Eider sea ducks and the polar bear. The 109th United States Congress and 2008 federal budget proposed opening for oil and gas development the {"}1002 Area{"} of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which intersects the Plain. This analysis finds that, if Arctic Alaska experiences 1.5 °C of warming by 2040 (as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's A2 scenario), then potential habitat will decrease significantly for eight of these at-risk species, including the polar bear. This analysis also shows that there is synergism between oil and gas development and climate change. For instance, climate change accompanied by no development of the 1002 Area results in an increase of potential habitat for Steller's Eider. However, if development accompanies climate change, then there is a 20{\%} decrease in that area. Further, this analysis quantifies the tradeoff between development and maintenance of suitable habitat for at-risk species.",
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