Assessment of the vulnerability of Oregon and Washington's natural areas to climate change Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/mw22v9266

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  • There are currently more than 580 natural areas in Oregon and Washington managed by 20 federal, state, local, and private agencies and organizations. The natural areas network is unparalleled in its representation of diverse ecosystems found in the region and may be an excellent collection of sites for monitoring long-term ecological responses to climate change. The goal of this research was to build a framework for a climate change monitoring program for the Pacific Northwest based on natural areas. Objectives were to (1) describe strengths of the existing natural areas network for representing effects of climate change by conducting a proportionality assessment and (2) determine which subset of natural areas have the best potential to detect change over the long term. Findings show that natural areas were generally representative and proportional compared to the Pacific Northwest. Subsets of natural areas were prioritized for long-term monitoring efforts through bioclimatic modelling based on the current and projected (2020s, 2050s, 2080s) outputs from 13 future climate models from ClimateWNA and the Random Forest approach. Projection consensus showed a substantial range increase in suitable climate for warmer adapted forest types coupled with a contraction in cooler forest types. The results highlight the potential stress of climate change on ecosystems across the region and the need for management strategies to adapt to this uncertainty.
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