Our Work - This project is no longer actively supported. Information and resources are current as of 2016 and are archived here for informational purposes.

Ways to Adapt

Ways to Adapt

The current and projected future pace of climate change is unprecedented, which means many species may be unable to keep pace through adaptation or range shifts. In addition, human land use has already resulted in habitat loss and degradation, barriers to species movement, and competition with non-native species that may limit the capacity of our native species and ecosystems to adapt to climate change on their own. There is therefore a need to consider climate change in today’s decisions that will affect biodiversity.
Considering climate change in today’s decisions
We completed a detailed review and analysis of adaptation measures for the conservation of Alberta’s biodiversity under a changing climate to help frame the climate change adaptation conversation in the province.
These adaptation measures include approaches for:
  • Maximizing the capacity of our species and ecosystems to respond to climate change
  • Planning for parks and protected areas
  • Accommodating climate change uncertainty in land use planning
  • Monitoring biodiversity to support climate change adaptation

Adaptations for Species at Risk

Building on the knowledge gained through our field projects, we developed climate change adaptation plans for two Grassland bird species at risk in Alberta–Burrowing Owls and Ferruginous Hawks. These adaptation plans outline possible adaptation strategies for the management of these species at risk in a changing climate, focusing on the ecological benefits and risks of each potential strategy.
Boreal Birds

Burrowing Owl Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Alberta

Fisher, R.J. and E.M. Bayne | March 31, 2014

Alberta’s Burrowing Owls are facing increased development pressures and a changing climate. This report highlights adaptation strategies that could support this species in changing climate conditions and a projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Rare Plants

Ferruginous Hawk Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Alberta

Shank, C. and E.M. Bayne | March 31, 2015

The Alberta Ferruginous Hawk population has declined dramatically since the 1990s, and climate change has been identified as a factor that could hamper this species’ recovery. This report summarizes the potential effects of climate change on Ferruginous Hawks and explores the adaptive responses that could be used to help this species persist in a changing climate.


Protected Areas Planning

Protected area
Protected areas provide species and ecosystems with the opportunity to respond to climate change in areas with limited human disturbance. They can also facilitate species range shifts by acting as stepping stones to new regions of suitable climate. But, climate change may alter the species and ecosystems protected by our current reserve network. Protected areas planning can be informed by projections of how our species and ecosystems may shift in response to climate change; we can use these maps of the future of Alberta’s biodiversity to determine whether certain species or ecosystems of interest will be well-protected in the future. In addition, these maps can be used to identify regions that may not be currently protected, but that might retain target species or ecosystems as climate change progresses.

Conservation of future boreal forest bird communities considering lags in vegetation response to climate change: a modified refugia approach

Stralberg, D. et al. | July 20, 2015

Species and ecosystems may not be able to keep up with the rapid pace of climate change projected for the next century. This paper explores how limitations to forest growth and succession may affect habitat suitability for boreal forest songbirds in the future, with the objective of informing continental-scale conservation of these species.


Reserve design under climate change: from land facets back to ecosystem representation

Schneider, R.R. and E.M. Bayne | May 15, 2015

Ecosystem distributions are expected to shift as a result of climate change. This paper examines the consequences of climate change impacts on ecosystem distributions for the long-term utility of reserve systems designed to represent current ecosystems.



Alberta Map
Biodiversity monitoring is an essential support to climate change adaptation. High-quality monitoring data can provide an early warning system for detecting the effects of climate change on species and ecosystems, and is essential to documenting those changes in Alberta. The ABMI conducts world-class monitoring of more than 3000 species and habitats in Alberta, playing an essential role in providing reliable data to support climate change adaptation. But there are also ways to improve biodiversity monitoring to better detect the impacts of climate change on our species and ecosystems and inform responses to those impacts.