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1 2 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY This report describes the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institutes 3-year Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project Thank you to the BMCCA project team for contributing technical and editorial insight and figures. Preferred Citation Nixon A. C. Shank and D. Farr. 2015. Understanding and Responding to the Effects of Climate Change on Albertas Biodiversity. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. Available at Core funding for this project was provided by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation. Collaborators and other funders Several individual projects were jointly funded with the following organizations. Full acknowledgements can be found in individual reports Government of Canada Canadian Wildlife ServiceEnvironment Canada Interdepartmental Recovery Fund National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Agriculture and Agri-food Canada Department of Defense CFB Suffield Cenovus Nexen Altalink Suncor IHS Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Alberta Sport Recreation Parks and Wildlife Foundation Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment the Foundation for Orchid Research and Conservation the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and Alberta Innovates Bio-Solutions. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 3 About the ABMI 4 About the CCEMC 5 Executive Summary 6 Introduction 8 About the Project 9 Climate Change in Alberta 10 Projected Impacts on Albertas Species and Ecosystems 12 Global Climate Models 13 Albertas Ecosystems 14 Species Distributions 16 Grassland Plant Responses to Climate Change and Grazing 23 Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments 24 Effects of Extreme Weather on Prairie Raptors 27 Invasive Plants 30 Climate Change Adaptation in Biodiversity Management 32 Biodiversity Management and Conservation Planning 33 Species Adaptation Plans 34 Assisted Migration 37 Parks and Protected Areas 40 Adaptations for Ecosystem Services on Albertas Rangeland 45 Monitoring 46 Resilience-based Adaptation for Communities 47 Climate Change and Southern Alberta Communities 48 Ecosystem-based Adaptation 49 Climate Change and Municipal Planning 50 Adapt-action a Tool for Communities 51 Understanding and Addressing Uncertainty 52 Conclusions 54 Building on the Project 57 The Project Team 59 Project Reports and Publications 60 General Terms 63 4 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute ABMI is an arms-length not-for-profit scientific organization. The business of the ABMI is to monitor and report on the status current condition and trends of Albertas species habitat and human footprint. The goal of the ABMI is to provide relevant scientific information on the state of Albertas biodiversity to support natural resource and land-use decision making in the province. In the course of monitoring terrestrial and wetland ecosystems across the province over the past twelve years the ABMI has assembled an extensive biodiversity and human footprint database developed reliable measurement protocols and found innovative ways to summarize complex ecological information. TodemonstratethevalueanduseoftheABMI datasettoaddresscurrentlandandresource management issues the ABMI recently began undertaking research and development collaborations with partner organizations and researchers. The Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation BMCCA project presented in this report is one such collaborative effort. Through applications of ABMI capacity dataandknowledgetospecificmanagement challenges the ABMI has added value to the ABMIs core business of biodiversity monitoring. Notwithstanding the Institute is not a management agency and does not make management recommendations. In all instances the ABMI continues to generate value-neutral independent and publicly accessible data and products. And all ABMI activities are guided by a core set of principles we are independent objective credible accessible transparent and relevant. For more on the ABMI visit CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 5 The Climate Change and Emissions Management CCEMC Corporation is an Alberta-based not-for-profit organization with a mandate to establish or participate in funding for initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or improve Albertas ability to adapt to climate change. Adaptation is a critical component of the CCEMCs work. CCEMC ADAPTATION PROGRAM The CCEMC adaptation program was launched in 2012 funding three initiatives that have produced a wealth of knowledge. The ABMI Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project helps us to understand how climate change will impact Alberta species and ecosystems and the actions we can take to address vulnerabilities. The Tree Improvement Alberta consortium assesses Alberta forests for adaption with a focus on commercially important tree species that help maintain forest ecosystems. The Tree Species Adaptation Risk Management project replicates climate variation through planting species in new regions of the province for example northern species in southern Alberta. The stakeholder-led Integrated Watershed Management Project for the South Saskatch- ewan River Basin builds understanding about how to address climate variability throughout the SSRBs river systems. The group developed a comprehensive river system model for the Oldman and South Saskatchewan River Basins and identified opportunities for improvements to water storage infrastructure and the timing of withdrawls releases and flows. To learn more about the CCEMC and its adaptation program see The CCEMC understands that climate change impacts will result in changes to ecological capacity productivity and other natural attri- butes of Albertas landscape and that economic and social adaptation is required. The CCEMC works in partnership with the province of Alberta to inform public policy enhance knowledge and awareness and build capacity and resilience. The CCEMC is the core funder of the ABMI Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project. The ABMI and its project collaborators are responsible for the design of the project and its delivery including the language and content of this report. 6 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY The Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation BMCCA project led by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute was initiated in 2012 with the goal of developing essential knowledge and tools to support the effective management of Albertas biodiversity as climate change impacts the provinces species ecosystems and human communities. The project focused on developing predictions of the impacts of climate change on Albertas biodiversity reviewing the actions and strategies required to effectively manage biodiversity in a changing climate developing and evaluating tools and targeted actions to support species management under climate change and connecting the impacts of climate change on biodiversity to the well-being of Albertans to support climate change adaptation in our communities. In doing so the BMCCA project has produced a comprehensive evidence-based and original examination of the effects of climate change on Albertas biodiversity developed innovative responses to these challenges and helped frame the discussion around climate change adaptation for biodiversity management in the province. This report provides a guide to the BMCCA project summarizing the individual projects highlighting key outcomes research advances and new tools resources and approaches and serving as a bridge to more detailed results and outcomes. 8 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Biodiversity is the variety of species and ecosystems on Earth and the ecological processes of which they are a part.2 This natural diversity is important to the well-being of Albertans because it supports a variety of tangible benefits for our communities such as clean drinking water and protection from floods and it is the basis on which our natural resource economies including agriculture and forestry are built. In addition Albertas biodiversity represents our shared natural heritage many Albertans identify with aspects of biodiversity - specific plants animals or natural environments - that represent cultural values. Climate change is now occurring at a pace faster than at any other time in our experi- ence.34 Albertas biodiversity has and will continue to respond to changes in climate including through species adaptations to new conditions and shifts in their distributions. There will also be consequences for human communities and the livelihoods of individual Albertans through changes to agriculture forestry recreation flood-control and other services provided by native ecosystems. The potential implications of climate change for biodiversity and human communities are far-reaching. Because even the most effective reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions will not prevent climate change there is widespread recognition that planning for these changes is critical.56 Climate change adapta- tion involves anticipating the consequences both positive and negative of climate change and responding to reduce identified risks and capitalize on any opportunities.7 Understandingandanticipatingthepotential impactsofclimatechangeonAlbertasbiodiver- sityisnecessarytoensurethattodaysdecisions aboutlandusenaturalresourcemanagement andconservationarerelevantandeffectiveover thelongtermandtoinitiatethenecessaryshifts inpolicyandpracticethatwillberequiredto supportdecisionmakinginthefuture. 2 Environment Canada. 1995. Canadian Biodiversity Strategy Canadas Response to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Hull Quebec 86 pp. 3 Government of Alberta. 2008. Albertas 2008 Climate Change Strategy. Available at httpesrd.alberta.cafocusalberta-and-climate-changeclimate-change-strategydocumentsAlbertaClimateChangeStrategy-2008.pdf 4 IPCC. 2013. Summary for Policymakers. In Climate Change 2013 The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press New York NY pp. 1-30. 5 Warren F.J. and D.S. Lemmen editors. 2014. Canada in a Changing Climate Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation. Government of Canada Ottawa ON 286 pp. 6 IPCC. 2014. Summary for Policymakers. In Climate Change 2014 Impacts Adaptation and Vulnerability. Part A Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press New York NY pp. 1-32. 7 Ibid. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 9 Through its work monitoring terrestrial and wetland ecosystems across the province over the last twelve years the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute ABMI has developed an active and collaborative research program that demonstrates the value of the Institutes extensive biodiversity database and applies its research capacity to specific environmental planning and management challenges. In 2012 the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute with collaborators from the University of Alberta the Miistakis Institute the University of Saskatchewan and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures initiated the three-year Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation BMCCA project. The goal of the project was to develop essential knowledge and tools to support the effective management of Albertas biodiversity as climate change impacts our species and ecosystems are realized. The BMCCA project has addressed these knowledge gaps through review of relevant scientific literature analysis of existing data field experiments and observations and the development of online resources. The project has produced a broad evidence-based and original examination of the effects of climate change on Albertas biodiversity developed innovative responses to these challenges and helped frame the discussion around climate change adaptation for biodiversity manage- ment in the province. This report is a guide to the BMCCA project. It highlights key outcomes research advances and new tools resources and approaches and serves as a bridge to more detailed results and outcomes. Fromitsoutsettheprojectrecognizedtheneedfor a better understanding of the predicted impacts of climate change on Albertas species and ecosystems the development and analysis of tools and targeted actions to support climate change adaptation in biodiversity management informed discussion on the actions required to effectively manage biodiversity in a changing climate and an improved understanding of the connection between the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and the well-being of Albertans to support climate change adaptation in our communities. 10 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Albertas climate is changing recent climate trends and future climate projections8 have been summarized for the province by Richard Schneider 2013. Over the last 100 years the provincial mean annual temperature has increased by 1.4C with much of that increase occurring since the 1970s from increases in winter and spring temperatures. Theseobservedtrendsareprojectedtocontinue overthecourseofatleastthenexthundred yearsevenifgreenhousegasemissionsstabilize whichisunlikely.Bytheendofthiscentury Albertasmeanannualtemperatureispredicted toincreasebyatleast2Cfromthe1961-1990 average.Dependingontheglobalclimatemodel andgreenhousegasemissionsscenariousedto forecastfutureclimateconditionsthisincrease couldbeashighas4-6CFig.1. In addition to continued warming most climate models also project an overall increase in provincial annual precipitation by about 10 on average. Warming temperatures will result in increasing evapotranspiration which will lead to an overall decline in available moisture especially in mid-summer despite the small projected increase in precipitation. Alongside changes in average conditions extreme weather events like heavy rainfalls or very dry years are likely to become more frequent as well.9 8 HamannA.etal.2013.Acomprehensivehigh-resolutiondatabaseofhistoricalandprojectedclimatesurfacesforwesternNorthAmerica. BulletinoftheAmericanMeteorologicalSociety9413071309. 9 e.g. Karl T. R. G. Meehl C.D. Miller S.J. Hassol A.M. Wapole and W.L. Murray eds. 2008. Weather and climate extremes in a changing climate Regions of focus North America Hawaii Caribbean and US Pacific Islands. Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3 Report by the US Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 11 FIGURE 1. Current and projected future mean annual temperatures in Alberta indicating an average temperature increase of 4C by the end of the century. These projections are based on an ensemble or average of 19 global climate models and assume that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will continue to increase A2 emissions scenario. MEAN ANNUAL TEMPERATURE C Current 1961 - 1990 2041 - 2070 2071 - 2100 876543210-1-2-3-4-5 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km 12 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Developing adaptive solutions to the challenges posed to Albertas biodiversity by a changing climate first requires understanding how climate change might affect species and ecosystem distributions and abundances. The BMCCA project used three main approaches to assess these potential impacts ecological niche models see below to develop spatial predictions of the potential distributions of species and ecosystems under changed future conditions speciesassessmentsusingNatureServes ClimateChangeVulnerabilityIndex CCVI10 todeterminetherelativeclimate changevulnerabilityofAlbertasspeciesand field research on the effects of weather on mortality and reproduction of selected species. These three different approaches produced mutually insightful results. Ecological niche models predict where a species or ecosystem could potentially exist in the future but by themselves do not address whether species are actually capable of dispersing into and thriving in new climatically suitable areas. By contrast relative vulnerability assessments identify a species vulnerability within its current range and provide insights into the traits that are most important in determining vulnerability but do not incorporate potential shifts in range. The combination of these two approaches to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on species can provide insight that is both ecologically and spatially relevant. Field research provides empirical evidence as to how species react to current weather allowing enhanced predictions of the popula- tion effects of future climate and identification of potential management responses. ECOLOGICAL NICHE MODELS Ecologicalnichemodelingistheprocessofpredictingthedistributionofspeciesor ecosystemsbasedoncorrelationsbetweenenvironmentalconditionse.g.climaticvariables soilcharacteristicsetc.andspeciesorecosystemoccurrence.Thistechniqueisalsoknown asspeciesdistributionmodelingorbioclimaticenvelopemodeling.Modelsthataredeveloped todescribethecurrentdistributionorabundanceofspeciesorecosystemsarecombinedwith projectionsoffutureclimatetoprojectfuturedistributionsandsometimesabundance underchangedclimaticconditions. Scientistsmakeavarietyofassumptionswhentheyuseecologicalnichemodelstoproject futurespeciesorecosystemdistributionsincludingassumptionsaboutwhataspectsof climateareimportanttothedistributionthequalityandquantityofthedatausedtodevelop themodelspage22thecurrentandfutureavailabilityofsuitablehabitatandtheabilityof speciestodisperseinresponsetochangedconditionsamongothers. 10 For more information httpwww.natureserve.orgconservation-toolsclimate-change-vulnerability-index CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 13 11 IPCC. 2000. Summary for policy makers. In Special Report on Emissions Scenarios for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 27 pp. Available at httpswww.ipcc.chpdfspecial-reportsspmsres-en.pdf 12 Meehl G.A. et al. 2007. The WCRP CMIP3 multimodel dataset A new era in climate change research. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 881383-1394. 13 See 11. GLOBAL CLIMATE MODELS A complementary suite of global climate models represents the range of potential future climate conditions in Alberta. Many BMCCA projects employed global climate models GCMs to predict future climatic conditions in Alberta. Global climate models have been developed by internationally renowned research centres across the globe to provide projections of global climate under a suite of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. These scenarios based on assumptions about future global economic technological and social development represent future atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.11 The predictions from these models are variable and there is no consensus on which models are best for particular research questions or regions of interest. Selecting among the various GCMs and emissions scenarios to represent future conditions in Alberta is a complex task. Diana Stralberg 2012 identified a set of five GCMs from the World Climate Research Project WCRP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3 CMIP312 as a complementary suite of models to represent the range of potential future climate outcomes for Alberta including both wetter and drier climate scenarios Table 1. The BMCCA project typically relied on either ensemble data generated by averaging across a suite of GCMs for a single greenhouse gas scenario or comparisons among projections from two or more of the identified GCMs and greenhouse gas emissions scenarios to represent the uncertainty associated with projected future conditions. The A2 greenhouse gas emissions scenario which is characterized by regionally oriented economic development and a continuously increasing population and consequently projects continuously increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations13 was the most commonly used scenario. TABLE 1. Acomplementarysuiteofglobalclimatemodelsthatrepresent arangeofpotentialend-of-centuryclimateoutcomesfor AlbertaStralberg2012. Global Climate Model Future Projection ECHAM5MPI-OM Germany Most representative of all models for the Alberta region INM-CM3.0 Russia Wetter CGCM3.1T47 Canada Wetter less seasonal GFDL-CM2.1 USA Drier UKMO-HadGEM1 UK Drier much warmer 14 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY ALBERTAS ECOSYSTEMS Projections of the future distributions of Albertas major ecosystems indicate changes in their size and distribution under different climate change scenarios in particular an expansion of grasslands and a decline in the area of the boreal forest. The diversity of Albertas ecosystems can be represented by the provincial system of Natural Regions and Subregions Fig. 2.14 These 21 Natural Subregions nested within six Natural Regions represent unique combinations of landforms soils climate and vegetation. However the nature and boundaries of these regions are expected to change as the distribution of vegetation shifts in response to changing climate. Understanding how Albertas ecosystems will be distributed in the future provides the basic foundation for natural resource planning including for agriculture forestry and biodiversity conservation. RichardSchneider2013developedbioclimatic envelopemodelspage12todescribethecurrent distributionofAlbertasNaturalSubregions andappliedthesemodelstoclimateprojections forthe2020s2011-20402050s2041-2070 and2080s2071-2100evaluatingfivepotential futureclimatescenariosCoolMedianHot DryandWet.15 The most dramatic change projected was the expansion of Albertas grasslands at the expense of other ecosystems Fig. 2.16 Under the Cool Model the Grassland Natural Region was predicted to expand northward into the Parkland and the Parkland in turn replaced the Dry Mixedwood and Central Mixedwood. Under the Hot model the predicted expansion of grasslands was more rapid until by the end of the century that ecosystem covered almost the entire province the boreal forest was projected to disappear completely except for a remnant at higher elevations in the Caribou Mountains.17 Uncertainties remain in the types and rates of ecological transitions that will occur in response to these projected shifts in the climate envelopes of Albertas Natural Subregions. Richard Schneider and colleagues submitted predict substantial lags between changes in climate and subsequent ecosystem transitions especially in the transition from mixedwood boreal forest to aspen forest and then to parkland and grassland ecosystems. Further they predict these transitions are unlikely to occur gradually or steadily and that ecosystem components will respond to climate change at different rates. For example in upland forests natural disturbances like fire will be important for initiating ecosystem changes including the transition of mixedwood boreal forest to parkland or grassland ecosystems. But Schneider and colleagues argue that the resilience of peatlands to climate change and natural disturbance and their likely persistence on the landscape through to the end of the century will play an important role in mitigating future forest loss especially of aspen. So the future northern Alberta landscape may be comprised of a mosaic of peatlands and upland aspen forest a novel ecosystem that is not represented in Alberta today. 14 Natural Regions Committee. 2006. Natural Regions and Subregions of Alberta. Government of Alberta Edmonton AB 264 pp. Available at www.albertaparks.camedia2942026nrsrcomplete_may_06.pdf 15 These five future scenarios represent different combinations of global climate models and greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Refer to Schneider 2013 for detailed descriptions. 16 Additional maps of projected future ecosystem distribution can be found at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresourcesmap-galleries 17 Learn more about this research by watching a presentation by Dr. Richard Schneider at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.cavideos CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 15 Historical FIGURE 2. Two end-of-century projections of the distribution of Albertas Natural Subre- gions based on different global climate models and greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Regardless of the global climate model and emissions scenario used an expansion of southern ecosystems parkland and grassland and a decline of boreal ecosystems is projected Schneider 2013. NATURAL SUBREGION Historical Cool Model 2071-2100 Hot Model 2071-2100 Alpine Athabasca Plain Boreal Subarctic Central Mixedwood Parkland Dry Mixedgrass Dry Mixedwood Foothills Fescue Kazan Uplands Lower Boreal Highlands Lower Foothills Mixedgrass Montane Northern Fescue Northern Mixedwood Peace-Athabasca Delta Subalpine Upper Boreal Highlands Upper Foothills 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km 16 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY SPECIES DISTRIBUTIONS The BMCCA project made extensive use of species distribution modeling page 12 to project the future ranges of species particularly boreal birds and vascular plants under climate change scenarios. Understanding where species are likely to occur in the future is critical to long-term biodiversity management including the management of species at risk and conservation planning. Alberta Birds North American birds have been the subject of intensive studies and researchers have generated a rich dataset of many thousands of geographically referenced observations for North America. For example the Boreal Avian Modelling project has compiled an extensive data set for the North American boreal region.18 The BMCCA project took advantage of this valuable information in several studies of how climate change is likely to impact the distributions of Albertas birds. By the end of the century most of Albertas boreal songbirds are projected to decline in potential abundance in response to climate change and their distributions are projected to shift northward and upslope. Grassland songbirds will have the potential to expand their ranges in Alberta as suitable climate becomes more available. The boreal forest is the Alberta ecosystem projected to suffer the greatest losses in area from climate change page 14. Similarly projections of boreal-breeding songbird abundance by Diana Stralberg and Erin Bayne 2013 indicated declines for 42 boreal- breeding songbird species in Alberta by 2040 48 species by 2070 and 50 species 60 of the species examined by 2100. The distributions of most species were projected to shift northward and upslope. Manyspecieswereprojectedtofirstincrease assuitableclimatespaceexpandsandthen decreaseinAlbertabytheendofthecentury asthesuitableclimatespaceshiftsnorthwards andintotheNorthwestTerritories.19 Coniferous boreal forest species such as Bay-breasted and Tennessee Warblers were projected to shift almost entirely out of the province while deciduous forest-associated species such as Ovenbird and Canada Warbler were generally projected to contract their distributions in the central part of the province and move upslope into the highland regions Fig. 3. There is greater uncertainty in the projections for deciduous forest-associated species because the response of these species to and the persistence of their preferred habitat in future climate scenarios are sensitive to variation among GCM projections for moisture in the boreal region. Deciduous forests have the potential to rapidly convert to grassland if soil moisture is sufficiently reduced. Mountain species such as Varied Thrush and Townsends Warbler were generally projected to move upslope experiencing a range contraction while grassland-associated species like Savannah Sparrow and Clay- colored Sparrow are expected to expand into the current boreal region. The implications of these range shift projections to conservation planning are further explored on page 41. 18 The Boreal Avian Modelling Project 19 Maps of boreal-wide songbird abundance projections are available at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresourcesmap-galleries CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY DENSITY MALESHA DENSITY MALESHA Current 1961-1990 2041-2070Ovenbird Tennessee Warbler 2071-2100 Current 1961-1990 2041-2070 2071-2100 FIGURE 3. Current and projected future provincial distribution and density malesha of two boreal songbirds the Tennessee Warbler and Ovenbird. These projections are the average result of projections from four global climate models using the A2 emissions scenario Stralberg and Bayne 2013. 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km 18 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Models of 15 grassland songbirds across their continental ranges developed by Amy Nixon and colleagues 2015 confirmed that there is the potential for a majority of these species to expand their ranges in Alberta. The northern edge of suitable climate for grassland birds in Alberta was generally projected to shift northward while in most cases the southern limit was projected to remain more or less intact extending south into the United States e.g. Western Meadowlark Fig. 4. However this pattern was not consistent among all the species modeled. For example Spragues Pipit was projected to lose 87 of its Alberta range as a result of a lack of suitable grassland habitat becoming available in the north coupled with northward movement of its southern range edge. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY CUMULATIVE CLIMATE SUITABILITY Western Meadowlark Spragues Pipit Current 1961-1990 Current 1961-1990 2041-2070 2041-2070 2071-2100 2071-2100 FIGURE 4. Current and projected future suitable habitat for the Western Meadowlark and Spragues Pipit in Alberta. These projections are based on an ensemble of 19 global climate models and the A2 emissions scenario Nixon et al. 2015. 95-100 90-95 85-90 75-85 50-75 25-50 15-25 10-15 5-10 1-5 0-1 Core Suitable Climate Low High 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km 20 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Plant Species Diversity Asforbirdsthereisawealthofgeographically- referencedobservationsofAlbertaplantsthat canbeusedtounderstandfuturedistributions ofthesespeciesunderachangingclimate. Future projections of the ranges of over 1500 Alberta plants indicate changes in provincial plant diversity including increases in the number of species present and their genetic diversity for many areas but decreases in the Rocky Mountains. As individual species shift their distributions in response to changing climatic conditions there will be consequences for different aspects of biodiversity not just species diversity but also phylogenetic diversity or the degree of evolutionary relatedness among those species. Understanding the potential changes in these measures of diversity in response to climate change provides a more complete picture of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity in the province. If related groups of species are affected by climate change in a similar way there could be a disproportionate loss in phylogenetic diversity representing a greater overall loss in the evolutionary history of Albertas plant species. 20 Maps for many species are available in the rare plant map gallery at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresourcesmap-galleries 21 Learn more about this research by watching a presentation by Dr. Scott Nielsen at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.cavideos Identifying potential changes in these patterns can inform land use planning and conservation priorities by highlighting differential threats within the province. For example it might be beneficial to identify areas of high species richness and high phylogenetic diversity in current and future time periods to prioritize conservation actions. JianZhangandcolleaguesinreviewdeveloped ecologicalnichemodelsfor1541Albertaplant speciesalmost90ofthespeciesfoundinthe province.Ofthesenearlyonequarterwere projectedtolose80oftheircurrentprovincial distributionofsuitablehabitatwhileathird wereprojectedtomorethandoubletheirsuitable habitat.20 Fornearlyhalfofthespeciesexamined suitableclimatespacewasprojectedtoshift northwardbyatleast10kmdecade. As a result of these projected shifts in species distributions both plant species richness and phylogenetic diversity were expected to increase for most regions by the end of the century Fig. 5. In the Rocky Mountains which have the highest phylogenetic diversity of plant species in the province today overall declines in diversity were projected.21 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 21 200 100 0 100 200 300 2 0 2 4 6 8 FIGURE 5. Projected changes in plant species richness top and phylogenetic diversity bottom in Alberta from the current period 1961-1990 to the end of the century 2071-2100. Water bodies are indicated in blue. These projections are based on the CGCM3 global climate model assuming the A1B emissions scenario Zhang et al. in review. CHANGE IN NUMBER OF SPECIES CHANGE IN INDEX OF PHYLOGENETIC DIVERSITY 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km 22 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY An Improved Method for Species Distribution Models A new statistical method addresses spatial biases in widely-available presence-only species observations leading to more accurate species distribution models. Species distribution modeling page 12 requires reliable species location information as a starting point. These data are often in the form of presence-only data obtained from databases of museum records or field sightings including Alberta databases like ACIMS.22 These records tend to be concentrated in areas that are more easily sampled because they may not be representative of all species locations these records may produce unreliable predic- tions. Jessica Stolar and Scott Nielsen 2015 demonstrated a method of accounting for this effort bias in species distribution models of rare vascular plants bryophytes and butterflies in Alberta. By relating existing species records to the density of roads location of experts resource extraction sites population density terrain ruggedness and protected status they created an estimation of collection effort that can be used to weight species observations in the distribution models. This flexible approach is widely applicable due to the increasing avail- ability of online biodiversity databases and will lead to more robust spatial predictions. Photo The Yellow Glacier Lily grows in moist areas with rich soil in the alpine and subalpine. Because of the rugged terrain and challenging access these high elevation habitats are relatively under-sampled compared to other regions of the province. 22 ACIMS Alberta Conservation Information Management System. For more information httpwww.albertaparks.caalbertaparkscamanagement-land-usealberta-conservation-information-management-system-acims.aspx CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 23GRASSLAND PLANT RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND GRAZING Simulated grazing magnifies the shift in grassland plant communities towards arid-adapted species in response to climate change. Species responses especially the responses of plant species to climate change can be predicted from detailed localized information about the species environmental and climatic preferences in addition to using broad geographic associations between the species distribution and climatic conditions ecological niche models. Shannon White and colleagues in prep examined the response of grassland plant species adapted to warm dry or coolmoist conditions to experimental manipulation of rainfall temperature and grazing across the Canadian prairies. The strength of the response in the abundance of these groups of species to the climate treatments increased along a gradient with the weakest response at the driest warmest site and the greatest response at the wettest coolest site. This suggests that grassland plant communities in regions that are already relatively warm and dry already possess adaptations to aridity and are less likely to respond to warmer and drier conditions. Whenclimatetreatmentswerecombinedwith simulatedgrazingtherewasastrongincrease intheabundanceofarid-adaptedspecies. Thissuggeststhatheavygrazingwillmagnify anyeffectsfromclimatechangeongrassland plantcommunitiesandhighlightsthepotential roleofgrazingmanagementinresponding toclimatechangeimpactsonvegetation communitiesinthegrasslandsregion. 24 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY CLIMATE CHANGE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENTS Vulnerability assessments for a wide variety of Alberta species and taxonomic groups provide an overview of the relative risk to species from climate change and the factors influencing their capacity to respond to future conditions. Climate change vulnerability is the integra- tion of the expected exposure of a species to climate change its inherent sensitivity to altered climate and its capacity to adapt to possible change. Not all species will be equally vulnerable to climate change understanding which species are most vulnerable and what factors contribute to climate vulnerability is necessary to prioritize potential responses. Chris Shank and Amy Nixon 2014 used NatureServes Climate Change Vulnerability Index CCVI 23 to calculate a relative measure of vulnerability for 173 species of amphibians birds insects mammals and vascular plants to climate change over the next 40 years. Reptiles and amphibians were among the most climate vulnerable species largely because of their specific habitat requirements and inability to disperse through human-modified landscapes. In contrast birds were typically ranked as less vulnerable because of their excellent dispersal capabilities. Wide-ranging and common species like the Coyote were also ranked as lower vulnerability. Species-at-risk tended to be scored as being more vulnerable largely because of their restricted ranges and already small populations Fig. 6. This broad survey of climate vulnerability supported by relevant literature24 highlights key considerations for species management in a changing climate including the importance of introducing the effects of climate change into the assessment and management of species at risk25 addressing barriers to dispersal so species may be better able to move in response to the changing climate and the need for more detailed research into the potential responses of species to climate change including prediction of potential future habitat for species of particular interest or high vulnerability. 23 NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index available at httpwww.natureserve.orgconservation-toolsclimate-change-vulnerability-index 24 For each species assessed detailed information is available at httpwww.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresources 25 Fish and Wildlife Division. 2008. Albertas Strategy for the Management of Species at Risk 2009-2014. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Fish and Wildlife Division Edmonton AB 30pp. Available at httpesrd.alberta.cafish-wildlifespecies-at-riskdocumentsStrategyManagementSpeciesRisk2009-14.pdf CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 25 Higher Vulnerability Medial Vulnerability VULNERABILITY SCORE SPECIES 10 5 0 5 10 15 Lower Vulnerability FIGURE 6. Vulnerability scores for 173 Alberta species. This ranking highlights species that are most and least vulnerable to the expected changes in climate and can support prioritization of species for further research or management action Shank and Nixon 2014. For each species assessed detailed information is available at httpwww.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresources PurplePitcherPlantslikemanyAlberta plantshaveverylimiteddispersalabilities. Asaresulttheirpopulationsmightbecome strandedinunfavourableconditionsasclimate changeoccursaroundthem.ThePurplePitcher Plantwasoneofthemostclimate-vulnerable plantspeciesassessed. Although migratory species like the Harlequin Duck are able to easily disperse to areas where the habitat and climate are suitable the preference of this species for cool mountain streams makes it moderately vulnerable to climate change in Alberta. In part because of their reliance on ephemeral wetlands for breeding grassland amphibians like this Great Plains Toad are highly vulnerable to climate change. Of the ten amphibians assessed six ranked in the top 25 most vulnerable species to climate change in Alberta. The Coyote is a wide ranging and adaptable species that has relatively low vulnerability to climate change. 26 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY American PikaA Detailed Examination of Climate Change Vulnerability Of the 37 species of mammals assessed for climate change vulnerability using the CCVI the American Pika ranked second only to Ords Kangaroo Rat in vulnerability. The CCVI score was largely based on species traits cited in the literature from research done in the US where temperatures are typically warmer snowfall shallower and mountain blocks more isolated than in Albertas Rocky Mountains. Using climate data specific to Pika locations in Alberta Chris Shank in press examined whether future climatic conditions are likely to put Alberta Pikas at risk. Future mean summer temperatures at almost all current Pika locations are not expected to exceed the threshold for endangerment set by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and most will remain cooler than the current warmest site in Alberta. Most current sites have sufficient elevation within 5 km to allow pika populations to migrate vertically to maintain mean summer temperatures below that of the currently warmest Alberta site. Climate change seems unlikely to place American Pikas at risk in Alberta by the end of this century. However this conclusion assumes sufficient future snow cover meadow habitat and talus availability and should be consistently assessed through a well-designed monitoring program. This more detailed analysis points to limitations in using research results from areas outside the species range of concern and suggests that the generality of the CCVI approach can result in uncertain outcomes for some species. Photo The solitary American Pika lives on rocky talus slopes near alpine meadows. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY EFFECTS OF EXTREME WEATHER ON PRAIRIE RAPTORS The effects of extreme weather events are particularly pronounced for species inhabiting the grasslands where suitable cover is generally lacking. Detailed field research shows that heavy precipitation reduces Burrowing Owl nest success by flooding nests and limiting prey deliveries to owlets while strong and prolonged windstorms often destroy Ferruginous Hawk nests. Severe weather events are likely to have the largest consequences for wildlife on the prairies where there are few opportunities to find cover. Burrowing Owls and Ferruginous Hawks are of particular interest because both are designated as Endangered in the Alberta Wildlife Regulation26 and listed as Endangered and Threatened27 respectively under the federal Species at Risk Act.28 Incidences of extreme heat rain and wind are expected to increase dramatically over the coming decades. This could have severe consequences Alberta populations are already so small that they could potentially be driven to extinction by a random series of severe weather events. An improved understanding of the factors contributing to climate change vulnerability for these species can support climate change adaptation planning page 34. 26 Alberta Wildlife Regulation. Alberta Regulation 1431997. Available at httpwww.qp.alberta.cadocumentsRegs1997_143.pdf 27 Endangered species face imminent extirpation or extinction. Threatened species are likely to become Endangered if nothing is done to address the factors leading to its decline. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada COSEWIC. 2014. Assessment Process Categories and Guidelines. Available at httpwww.cosewic.gc.caengsct0assessment_process_e.cfm 28 Canada Species at Risk Act. S.C.2002 c.29. Available at httplaws-lois.justice.gc.caengactsS-15.3 28 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Burrowing Owls The Burrowing Owl is listed as an Endangered species nation-wide at least partly because of the impacts of extreme weather including heavy rainfall and storms. Through their long-term field research Ryan Fisher and colleagues in review have found that extreme one-day rainfalls result in nest flooding. Consequently productivity i.e. owlet survival rate is negatively impacted by precipitation anomalies. However if owlets were provided with supplemental food by the researchers almost all survived periods of heavy rainfall. Considering the expected increase in extreme rainfall events within its breeding range as climate change progresses the long-term persistence of the Burrowing Owl is uncertain but could be alleviated by managing Burrowing Owl habitat to enhance the supply of food. Supplemental feeding while costly and time-consuming could be used as a short- term measure to improve owlet survival in emergency situations. Because Burrowing Owls like many prairie birds are migratory climate change impacts on both wintering grounds and migration routes could be as important to their persistence in Canada and Alberta as the conditions on their breeding grounds. Troy Wellicome and colleagues 2014 including Ryan Fisher and Erin Bayne from the BMCCA project found that storms during fall migration and above average precipitation on the wintering and breeding grounds were associated with reduced survival of Burrowing Owl populations. Stochastic events such as large storms during migration could pose a serious risk to the Canadian population because it is already so small. Photo TheBurrowingOwlisasmallowlthatnestsinburrowsinthe flattreelesslandscapesofAlbertasGrasslandNaturalRegion. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 29Ferruginous Hawks Ferruginous Hawk populations in Alberta have declined precipitously since the early 1990s for reasons that are still not well-understood. Ryan Fisher and Erin Bayne 2013 initiated a project in 2012 to better understand the species vulnerability to extreme weather with respect to behaviour reproductive output and nest reoccupancy patterns.29 Over the course of the study nest success was estimated for nearly 900 nesting attempts and video footage and hourly weather data from portable weather stations were collected at nineteen Ferruginous Hawk nests. Using satellite transmitters attached to twenty adult hawks the study also monitored the effects of weather on hawk migration. The data collected through this intensive field research is providing unique insights into the responses of Ferruginous Hawks to extreme weather events. For example Chelsey Laux and colleagues in review discoveredthatFerruginousHawksareableto detect impending storms through changes in barometric pressure and mitigate the risk of nest damage by increasing nest maintenance behaviours prior to the storms arrival. The project is on-going with three graduate students continuing the research. Photo The Ferruginous Hawk North Americas largest hawk breeds on Albertas prairies. 29 Learn more by watching Weathering the Storm Albertas Ferruginous Hawks in a Changing Climate at httpwww.biodiversityand- climate.abmi.caresourcesvideos 30 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY INVASIVE PLANTS Incorporating species distribution models into invasive species risk assessments identifies Giant Knotweed Salt Cedar and Alkali Swainsonpea as three high-risk invasive plants for Alberta under future climate conditions and highlights several areas in southern Alberta at greatest risk of new invasions. Climatechangewillalterconditionssuitablefor plantgrowthinAlbertainevitablyresultingin theintroductionandestablishmentofspeciesnot currentlyfoundintheprovince.Someofthese specieswillbeinvasivewithnegativeecological oreconomicimpacts.Toevaluateinvasionrisk for16plantspeciesnotcurrentlypresentin AlbertaShauna-LeeChaiandcolleagues2014 combinedinvasivenessassessmentsbasedon speciescharacteristicswiththepotentialfor eachspeciestoestablishinAlbertaunder currentandfutureclimaticconditions. The degree of invasiveness for each species was evaluated based on four traits ecological impact biological characteristics dispersal ability and feasibility of control using standardized ranking criteria.30 The suitability of current and future Alberta climates for each species was assessed through a combination of climate matching and species distribution modeling. Of the 16 terrestrial species assessed the three most problematic invasive plants were Giant Knotweed Fallopia sachalinensis Salt Cedar Tamarix chinensis and Alkali Swainsonpea Sphaerophysa salsula these species were determined to have both the highest invasive- ness scores and greatest potential increase in suitable habitat in Alberta. This analysis could support climate change risk assessments for invasive plants under the Weed Control Act.31 The Grasslands Natural Region was evaluated as the most at-risk region to new invasive species in both current and future climates and the Municipal Districts of Pincher Creek Cardston and County of Forty Mile were the municipalitiescounties with habitat predicted to be suitable for the greatest number of new invasive species by the 2050s Fig. 7. Because early detection and rapid response is critical to successful management of invasive plants identification of new potential invasive plant threats can support ongoing management initiatives across Alberta. 30 Invasivenessassessmentsforall16speciescanbefoundathttpwww.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caour-workclimate-change-impacts 31 Alberta Weed Control Act.SA 2008 cW-5.1. Available at Photo Climate change will make Albertas climate more favourable for Salt Cedar. This aggressive invasive species has very high water demands and impacts native ecosystems by lowering water tables and increasing the salt content of the soil. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 31 FIGURE 7. Current and projected future suitable habitat for potential new invasive plant species. Climate change will increase the risk of new invasive plant species for Alberta especially in the south by improving the suitability of the climate for species not currently present in the province Chai et al. 2014. 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 NUMBER OF NEW SPECIES Current 1961-1990 2041-2070 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km 32 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY ChangestoAlbertasbiodiversityarean inevitableresultofclimatechange.Thechallenge istoapplyourunderstandingoftheseimpacts totheidentificationanddevelopmentofpolicies andmanagementstrategiesthathavethebest chanceofmaintainingadiversityofspecies adaptedtothenewconditions. The BCCMA project explored a variety of potential strategies designed to accommo- date climate change in the planning and management of Albertas biodiversity for both individual species and across landscapes. These strategies include settingbiodiversityobjectivesthat accommodatechangingclimateconditions identifying and protecting future biodiversity hotspots and climate refugia assessing strategies for mitigating climate risk in key species and effectively monitoring the effects of climate change on biodiversity. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 33 BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION PLANNING Climate change should factor into the choice of biodiversity objectives and the approaches used to achieve them. Management actions can support species responses to climate change through already well-understood approaches andconservationplanningcanincorporate climate change scenarios to effectively achieve biodiversity objectives across a range of potential futures. The goal of biodiversity conservation is to maintain ecosystems species and genetic diversity along with the processes that shape them. Richard Schneider 2014 explored how climate change impacts could be considered when defining specific biodiversity objectives and how these objectives can be most effectivelyachievedthroughconservation planning and management. Effective biodiversity management requires operationally defining the ecological state that is to be achieved. Frequently these objectives identify human development and land-use change as the primary sources of ecological changes. However climate change is also a potent driver of ecological change that will challenge many efforts to achieve biodiversity objectives if it is not explicitly considered when the objectives are defined. Biodiversity objectives will need to be adjusted to reflect biodiversity responses to ever-changing climatic conditions. Protected areas are widely recognized as a critical tool for biodiversity conservation in a changing climate.32 Albertas network of protected areas is based largely on the goal of representing current ecosystem diversity by representing the provincial Natural Regions and Subregions.33 With climate change ecosystem distributions will shift over time so it may be appropriate to link representation to regional landscape characteristics like soil types or geological features that are likely to remain stable over time. See page 40 for further explorations of this approach for Alberta. Climate refugia page 42 for high priority species or species groups could be considered for protection as a species-level complement to landscape-level priorities. Both inside and outside of protected areas active management for some species and ecosystems will be required to meet biodiversity objectives not to resist the potential impacts of climate change but to support species whose ranges may be shifting in response to a changing climate. The tools to do so are well-known and some are already being implemented by practitioners including reduction of human disturbance removal of dispersal barriers assisted migration page 37 and exclusion of non-native competitors. Uncertainty about the scale and effects of climate change will necessitate novel approaches to planning for biodiversity management and conservation. Alternative planning methods that can accommodate this additional uncertainty are the identification of no-regrets strategies that minimize the overall risk of catastrophic outcomes or the application of multiple bet-hedging strategies simultaneously in different regions that in concert lower the risk of widespread failure in achieving biodiversity objectives. 32 Canadian Parks Council Climate Change Working Group. 2013. Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Helping Canada Weather Climate Change. Parks Canada Agency on behalf of the Canadian Parks Council. 52 pp. 33 Scientific Framework for Alberta Parks. Available at httpwww.albertaparks.caalbertaparkscamanagement-land-usebuilding-the-parks-systemscientific-framework.aspx 34 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY SPECIES ADAPTATION PLANS Climate change adaptation plans for two Endangered grassland raptors provide practical management considerations and actions to enhance the abilities of these species to adapt to climate change. These options include siting artificial nest burrows for Burrowing Owls in well-drained locations and securing Ferruginous Hawk nests from blow down. Recoveryplansforspeciesatriskoftenmention climatechangeasariskfactoryettheyrarely providepracticalapproachesforidentifying specificclimatechangerisksorpotential managementsolutions.Doingsorequiresa detailedunderstandingofaspeciesbiologyand thespeciesresponsetocurrentconditionsand topotentialfutureclimates. Bycombiningtheoutcomesfromdetailedfield researchpage27withliteraturereviewthe BMCCAprojecthashighlightedmanagement approachesforbothBurrowingOwlsand FerruginousHawksthatcouldbeconsideredfor incorporationintospecies-at-riskrecoveryplans. Burrowing Owls Burrowing Owls will be affected by climate change in Alberta both through projected changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and through changes in habitat availability in response to projected average climate conditions. Potential management responses highlighted by Ryan Fisher and Erin Bayne 2014 in their Burrowing Owl climate change adaptation plan include habitat management to ensure availability of prey construction of artificial burrows in areas with good drainage and as a last resort when populations are low supplemental feeding of owlets during inclement weather. Because Burrowing Owls had a historical range extending further north reintroduction is a potential option but is not recommended until the factors currently limiting populations are better understood and effectively addressed. Ferruginous Hawks Field research page 29 has demonstrated that collapse of Ferruginous Hawk nests from extreme wind and rain events is a significant source of reproductive failure and one that is likely to increase in the future as extreme weather increases in frequency and intensity. In their climate change adaptation plan for Ferruginous Hawks Chris Shank and Erin Bayne 2015 also concluded that the effects of weather on the hawks primary prey item Richardsons ground squirrels is significant to the long-term persistence of Ferruginous Hawk populations because of the tight link between ground squirrel populations and hawk reproductive success. Theprimarymanagementresponseproposedin theadaptationplantoaddressexpectedincreases inextremeweathereventsistocreateartificial andnaturalnestsubstratesthatareresistantto blowout.Additionalsuggestedactionsincluding addressingotherimpactsofextremeweather eventslikenestlingsurvivalandthepotential impactsoflong-termchangeinaverageclimate conditionswillrequireconsiderablymore researchonandmonitoringofbothFerruginous HawksandRichardsonsgroundsquirrels. Photo Opposite Top The underground nests of Burrowing Owls are vulnerable to flooding during heavy rain. Photo Opposite Bottom Ferruginous Hawk nests constructed on arti- ficial nest platforms are nearly twice as likely to withstand heavy winds as those in trees. 2015 REPORT 36 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 37ASSISTED MIGRATION Wild populations have two primary ways of responding to environmental change adapting behaviourally or genetically to new conditions or moving to track suitable conditions through range shifts. Species with limited dispersal abilities in fragmented habitats or with high habitat specificity may not have the capacity to move to where conditions are more suitable and this could increase their risk of extirpation or extinction. Assistedmigrationtheintentionaltranslocation ofaspeciesbeyonditscurrentdistributionto areaswhereclimateispredictedtobemore favourableinthefuturehasbeenproposedas apotentialproactiveconservationtoolto addressthisrisk. The BMCCA project supported two translo- cation experiments to assess the feasibility and some of the potential risks and benefits of assisted migration as a climate change adaptation strategy. These experiments have included assessments of the climate-related risks to existing populations of the potential for successful establishment of populations in new areas and of translocation methods that could be implemented in conservation programs. Montane Mammals Columbian Ground Squirrels adjust their hibernation timing in response to environmental conditions even though this timing is partly genetically controlled indicating the potential for this species to respond relatively quickly to changing climatic conditions. In recent years Columbian Ground Squirrels have been emerging from hibernation later in the spring as a result of late spring snowstorms resulting in reduced fitness and population viability. In 2008 Jeffrey Lane 2014 initiated a series of translocation experiments in the Alberta Foothills demonstrating that both genetic variation and individual responses to the environment contribute to variation in hibernation timing. In addition translocation was validated as a research and potential management tool with many individuals surviving more than a year post-translocation. The results of this long-term research supported by the BMCCA project have implications for the effectiveness of using assisted migration as a management tool to address potential population declines in montane mammals resulting from a changing climate. Photo Columbian Ground Squirrels mid-sized rodents of Albertas Rocky Mountains hibernate in underground burrows for typically 250 days of every year. 38 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Rare Range-restricted Plants Experimental translocations demonstrate that suitable climatic conditions for the Northern Blazing Star a rare plant in Albertaalreadyoccurmuchfurthernorth than the species current distribution providing support for assisted migration as a potentially effective management response to climate change. JenninePedersenandcolleagues2014have beenundertakingtransplantationexperiments withtheNorthernBlazingStararareplant occurringincentralAlbertatodeterminethe speciesvulnerabilitytoclimatechangeand whetherassistedmigrationcouldbeafeasible conservationresponse.34 Northern Blazing Star has been transplanted to two areas north and one location south of its current range in central Alberta Fig. 8. In addition plants were transplanted to two control locations within the species current range. In summer 2014 seeds planted at the more northern locations showed significantly better seed emergence rates than at the control and southern locations suggesting that the optimal climatic conditions for the species may already have shifted northwards. The survival of adult plants and emergence of seedlings outside the current range of Northern Blazing Star also suggests that assisted migra- tion would be a viable conservation tool for this species provided that adult plants are able to reproduce successfully at the northern sites. Initial experiments are now underway with a second rare plant Long-leaved Bluets. 34 Learn more by watching Blazing Ahead of Climate Change at httpwww.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresourcesvideos FIGURE 8. Totesttheeffectivenessof assistedmigrationadult plantsandseedsofthe NorthernBlazingStar weremovednorthtoareas projectedtohavesuitable futureclimates. Transloca- tionstothesouthwereused totestthesensitivityofthe speciestothehotteranddrier conditionsexpectedtooccur inthefutureatcurrently occupiedlocations. Pedersenetal.2014. NATURAL REGION 0 100 N 200 400 600 800 Km Control Climate Treatment Northern Blazing Star Range Boreal Canadian Shield Foothills Grassland Parkland Rocky Mountain Photo The Northern Blazing Star occupies open habitats with sandy soils in the central region of Alberta. 40 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY PARKS AND PROTECTED AREAS Protectedareascontributetospecies resiliencetoclimatechangebylimitingtheadded pressuresofhumandisturbancesuchasland usechangeorhabitatfragmentation.However Albertascurrentnetworkofprotectedareaswas notcreatedinconsiderationoftheimpactsof climatechangeonprovincialbiodiversity. Building on the projections of future ecosystem and species distributions developed through ecological niche modelling pages 14-22 the BMCCA project has examined how climate change could be incorporated into protected areas planning considering the consequences of climate change for the protection of landscape diversity ecosystems and particular species groups. Albertas Protected Areas Network Alberta Parks aims to preserve a network of areas that represents the natural diversity of the province by including all major ecosystems. As the size and distribution of these ecosystems is modified by climate change the proportion of each ecosystem protected will remain largely unchanged indicating that the current approach to parks planning will continue to meet conservation goals. Alberta Parks landscape-level conservation strategy is based on achieving representation of the provinces ecosystems described by 6 Natural Regions and 21 Subregions as a coarse-filter approach to protecting species and ecological processes.35 However as the climate changes the structure and location of ecosystems will change and protected areas may no longer be representative. Richard Schneider and Erin Bayne 2015 tested the extent to which targets based on proportional representation of ecosystems would continue to be met under a changing climate. By developing hypothetical systems of representative reserves for Alberta to achieve ecosystem representation targets i.e. of the area of each ecosystem protected and applying these protected area networks to altered ecosystem distributions projected by bioclimatic envelope models page 14 they found that ecosystem representation would be generally maintained or increased under conditions of climate change. Onepotentialexplanationforthisresultisthat Albertasecosystemsserveasproxiesformore stableandenduringfeaturesofthelandscape suchastopographyandlatitude. Thesefeatures termedlandfacetsprovidethearenasto accommodatethefullrangeofbiodiversitys dynamicresponsestoclimatechange. The current ecosystem-representation approach to planning parks and protected areas in Alberta is therefore a viable approach to developing a climate-ready protected areas system. However it is important to recognize that with this approach the absolute area of an ecosystem that is protected will decline if the absolute area of the ecosystem is reduced. For example a significant proportion of the remaining boreal forest could be protected meeting a proportional target but the absolute area might be small. 35 Scientific Framework for Alberta Parks. Available at httpwww.albertaparks.caalbertaparkscamanagement-land-usebuilding-the-parks-systemscientific-framework.aspx CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 41Priority Areas for Conservation of Rare Species Ecological niche models identifying areas of high current and future diversity of rare Alberta plant and butterfly species indicate that the Foothills Natural Region will be increasingly important for plant and butterfly diversity as climate change progresses. Using ecological niche modeling page 12 Jessica Stolar and Scott Nielsen in review examined the current and future distribution of Albertas rare NatureServe ranks S1 S3 36 vascular plant and butterfly species 37 and determined the locations of current and potential future conservation gaps in Albertas protected areas. Vascular plants and butter- flies are two groups of species with relatively rich Alberta location datasets that support modeling of rare species. Rarevascularplantspeciesarecurrently concentratedintheRockyMountainand FoothillsNaturalRegionsandintheCypress HillstheFoothillswilllikelybecomean increasinglyimportantregionforrareplant diversitybythe2080sFig.9.AlthoughAlbertas protectedareanetworkoverlapssignificantly withcurrentandfuturehotspotsofrareplant speciesrichnessgapsstillremain.Depending uponthetimeperiodandthetargetsetforspecies protectiongapsinthecurrentprotectedareas networkwereobservedfor16-43oftherare speciesconsidered. Current 1961-1990 2071-2100 36 S-rankings by NatureServe reflect the conservation status of a species in the province. They range from S1 critically imperilled to S5 demonstrably secure. For more information httpexplorer.natureserve.orgranking.htm 37 Maps for many species available in the rare plant map gallery at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresourcesmap-galleries RARE VASCULAR PLANT RICHNESS 20-45 45-70 70-95 95-120 120-145 145-170 Parks and Protected Areas 0 75 150 Km N 300 FIGURE 9. Currentandprojected futurerareplantrichnessin Alberta.Speciesrichnessis projectedtoincreaseinthe FoothillsNaturalRegionin particularbytheendofthe century.Thisfutureprojec- tionisbasedonasuiteof273 rarespeciesanensembleof 15globalclimatemodels and the A2 emissions scenario.Areasofnon-habi- tatincludingrockwater andagricultureinwhite wereomittedStolarand Nielseninreview. 42 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Identifying Climate Refugia Climaterefugiaareareaswithaclimate currentlysuitableforaspeciesandexpected toretainsuitabilityinthefuture. Species distributionmodelingforborealsongbirds suggeststhattheMartenPelicanandSwann Hillsarelikelytobeimportantclimate refugiaforalargenumberofspecies. Climate refugia are those areas of current species distribution that are expected to retain climatic habitat suitable for the species in the future. Such areas can be important for species conservation since they mitigate the need for adaptation and dispersal and can provide species with additional time to respond to environmental changes. Of the 84 Alberta songbird species modeled by Diana Stralberg and Erin Bayne 2013 42 were expected to see a decline in area of refugia by the end of the century and nine species were expected to retain less than 1 of their original range in refugia. Boreal songbirds rely on more than suitable climate however limitations to forest growth and succession will also impact the potential future distributions of suitable habitat for these species. Diana Stralberg and colleagues in revision extended the refugia concept to evaluate modified refugia or those that track both suitable climate and forest age over time. Boreal forest stands are expected to become younger as natural disturbances such as fire increase in frequency and intensity and forestry activity continues. Considerable young forest will become available and bird species that depend on that forest type like Mourning Warbler can be expected to change distribu- tions rapidly as the climate changes. However sufficient suitable habitat to maintain large populations of old forest specialists like Black- throated Green Warbler will become available only after a lag time of many decades as the forest matures. Conservation planning for boreal songbirds must therefore consider maintaining both stable habitat for those species that are unable to easily shift their distributions and newly suitable habitat for species that are able to occupy new areas. Taking into account constraints placed by forest age conservation areas expected to protect the greatest propor- tion of boreal birds over time are concentrated at higher elevations. By including habitat considerations into the interpretation of species distribution models this modified refugia approach represents a significant refinement in predicting areas that will be of the greatest conservation significance in a changing climate. Boreal-wide results have been summarized for Alberta by Diana Stralberg and colleagues 2014 to suggest that the provinces hill and mountain systems are conservation priorities Fig. 10. The Marten Pelican and Swan Hills in central Alberta are particularly important because they are expected to retain their current upland mixedwood and white spruce forests until the end of the century in the absence of land use change or natural disturbances like fire. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 43 FIGURE 10. Relativepriorityareasforend-of-centuryconservationof borealsongbirds in Alberta. Conservation of the higher- elevation borealhillsystemspurplewouldofferprotectionto thegreatestnumberofspecies.Thegreyareaoutsidetheboreal regionwasnotmodeledStralbergetal.2014. Zonation land rankings for boreal bird refugia 0.00 - 0.1 lowest 0.101 - 0.2 0.201 - 0.3 0.301 - 0.4 0.401 - 0.5 0.501 - 0.6 0.601 - 0.7 0.701 - 0.8 0.801 - 0.9 0.901 - 1 highest Parks and protected areas 0 50 10025 km Caribou Mountains Birch Mountains MartenPelican Hills Swan Hills 0.00 - 0.1 lowest 0.101 - 0.2 0.201 - 0.3 0.301 - 0.4 0.401 - 0.5 0.501 - 0.6 0.601 - 0.7 0.701 - 0.8 0.801 - 0.9 0.901 - 1 highest Parks and Protected Areas LAND RANKING FOR BOREAL BIRD REFUGIA 0.00 - 0.1 lowest 0.101 - 0.2 0.201 - 0.3 0.301 - 0.4 0.401 - 0.5 0.501 - 0.6 0.601 - 0.7 0.701 - 0.8 0.801 - 0.9 0.901 - 1 highest Parks and Protected Areas 250 N 50 Km 100 44 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY2015 REPORT Current Biodiversity in Potential Climate Refugia Species distribution modeling suggests that Albertas hill systems will be important refugia for boreal plants and animals as the climate changes. Field research is describing current climate and biodiversity patterns in several hills systems and evaluating the potential of these regions as climatic refugia for boreal biodiversity. Higher elevation areas of Alberta are likely to provide climate refugia for boreal birds and plants in the coming decades pages 41-43. In 2014 Diana Stralberg and colleagues 2014 initiated a project to evaluate the potential for Alberta hill systems to act as refugia by collecting field data on how landforms elevation latitude and exposure influence weather conditions and biotic communities. Current gradients in elevation and latitude canbetreatedasproxiesforchangesinclimate throughtimeallowingmorepreciseprediction of the potential value of the hill systems as climatic refugia. Four study areas across the province from Cypress Hills in the south to the Buffalo Head Hills in the north with similar forest types upland mixedwood forests but differing mean annual temperatures were chosen for study. In each area at least three elevations were sampled in as many as four aspectlandform classes. Sampling consisted of deploying automated audio recording units for detecting birds mammals and amphibians installing temperature sensors and conducting vascular plant and plant structure surveys. PreliminaryanalysisbyErinBayneandDiana Stralberg2015indicatedthattherichnessof songbirdcommunitieswasgreatestatlower elevationsandinthesouthpartoftheprovince. Speciesrichnesswashigheratsouthernlocations becausethesongbirdcommunitiesincluded speciesadaptedtograsslandagriculturaland urbanenvironmentsbutthecausesofthe elevationalgradientinspeciesrichnessarestill unclear.Thesedatahighlightthecomplexitiesof understandingtopographicandclimatecontrols onspeciesdistributionsandtheneedfor enhancedmonitoringofAlbertashillsystems. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 45ADAPTATIONS FOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES ON ALBERTAS RANGELAND Carbon modeling for Albertas rangeland suggests that climate change will result in long-term declines in aboveground biomass production and belowground carbon storage. Both processes are sensitive to grazing intensity however suggesting that grazing management has the potential to be a useful adaptation measure to maintain these ecosystem servicesonrangelandsoverthelong-term. Ecosystem services are the benefits people receive from nature that contribute to our health and well-being. Climate change is anticipated to have numerous and wide-ranging effects on the provision of many ecosystem services which will impact people communi- ties and industries that rely on those services. Understanding these impacts as well as the costs and benefits of potential adaptation strategies is therefore critical for long-term social environmental and economic planning. IncollaborationwithABMIsEcosystem ServicesAssessmentESAproject38 AmyNixon andcolleagues2015usedacarbondynamics modeltoexaminetheimpactsofrecentand futureclimatechangeontwoecosystemservices inAlbertasnativegrasslandssoilcarbonstorage forclimatechangemitigationandaboveground biomassproductioni.e.forageforlivestock grazing.Theyfurtherinvestigatedthepotential of grazing management low- moderate- orhigh-intensitygrazingasaclimatechange adaptationstrategytomaintaintheseprocesses overthelongterm. Inapreliminaryanalysisofmodelresults abovegroundbiomassandsoilcarbonstorage increasedorremainedstableinresponsetorecent climatechangedependingonthegrazingregime. Inresponsetoprojectedfutureclimatechangeto themid-century2050smodelledaboveground biomassincreasedbutsubsequentlydecreased inresponsetoclimatechangebytheendofthe century2080s.Low-intensitygrazingtypically resultedinhighermodelledvaluesofaboveground biomassandsoilcarboncomparedtohigher- intensitygrazing. Thissuggeststhatadjusting grazingintensityisonepotentialadaptation measuretomaintainorimproveaboveground biomassproductionandcarbonstoragein rangelandsoilsasclimatechangeprogresses. ThisworkiscontinuingundertheESAproject. 38 For more information visit 46 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY MONITORING Biodiversity monitoring is essential to support climate change adaptation. Richard Schneider 2014 highlighted several of the roles of biodiversity monitoring in climate change adaptation. These include the construction and validation of future projections of species and ecosystem distributions the development and measurement of ecological indicators and evaluation of adaptive management actions. High-quality long-term monitoring data can also provide an early warning system for detecting the effects of climate change on species and ecosystems. The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute monitors over 2500 species in terrestrial and wetland habitats in Alberta through field data collection and remote sensing providing the most comprehensive biodiversity monitoring data for the province. Erin Bayne in prep discussed how relative abundance data from the ABMIs monitoring program can be used to detect changes in species distributions even if their range edges do not occur in Alberta. Further he identified how new technology and remote sensing can improve monitoring of species phenology or the timing of biological events like migration or spring green-up which will be impacted by climate change. HoweverbothRichardSchneider2014 andErinBayneinprephaveidentifiednew monitoringapproachesthatwouldimprove thequalityofbiodiversitydataforpredicting anddetectingtheimpactsofclimatechange onAlbertasbiodiversity.Tocomplement existingmonitoringeffortssurveyscould beintensifiedinareaswheretheresponseof biodiversitytoclimatechangeislikelytobe mosteasilydetectedsuchasalongecotoneslike theboundarybetweentheParklandandBoreal NaturalRegionsandalongelevationgradients. Inadditionmoreintensemonitoringinprotected areaswouldbetterenabledetectionofecological changeintheabsenceofhumandisturbance thisinformationcanbeusedinestablishing andmeasuringecologicalbenchmarks. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 47 AsclimatechangeprogressesAlbertascommunities andtheirlocalgovernmentswillneedtomake decisionsthatencourageadaptationandpromote resiliencytotheirnewclimateandenvironmental conditions.Resilientcommunitiesareabletorespond positivelytotheconsequencesofclimatechangeintheir municipalies.Butdevelopingadaptationapproaches requiresunderstandablegeographicallyrelevant i.e.localclimatechangeprojectionsanassessment oftheimplicationsoffutureclimatesoncommunity well-beingandaccesstotheexistingbodyofknowledge oneffectiveadaptationmeasures. Recognizingthisneedandthenecessityofa decision-supporttoolthatmakesaconnection betweenbiodiversityconservationandmunicipal climateresiliencetheMiistakisInstitutehas developedAdapt-actionanonlinetoolthatwillhelp Albertamunicipalitiesincorporateclimatechange adaptationintheirplanning.Thetooliscurrently targetedtowardssmalltomediummunicipalities intheGrasslandsNaturalRegionofAlbertabutis relevantformunicipalitiesacrosstheprovince. ToensurethatAdapt-actionmeetsasignificant needandcanbebroadlyusedtheMiistakisInstitute reviewedtheimplicationsofclimatechangeforrural Alberta communities in the grasslands region theconnectionsbetweenAlbertamunicipalpolicy andclimatechangeadaptationactionplanning and the potential roles for ecosystem-based adaptationinbuildingcommunityclimateresilience. 48 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY CLIMATE CHANGE AND SOUTHERN ALBERTA COMMUNITIES Climate change is expected to impact Albertas rural municipalities economically socially and environmentally. Understanding these potential impacts is necessary to plan adaptive approaches to future climate conditions. The projected changes in Albertas climate both in terms of changes in average conditions and changes in climate extremes and extreme events have significant implications for the well-being of rural municipalities in the grass- lands region. Tracy Lee and colleagues 2014 reviewed and summarized the climate change implications for agriculture infrastructure emergency response recreation and human health they found that all are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and that the implicationsformunicipalitiesarewidespread overlapping and interconnected. For example Increased temperatures and reduced moisture availability in summer could result in changes in grassland productivity or species composition that affect forage quantity or quality and therefore impact stocking rates for livestock production. Streamflowreductionscombinedwith projectedreductionsinavailablemoisture mayimpactproductionofirrigatedcropsand thedemandforirrigationinfrastructure. Changes in streamflow and the timing and intensity of rainfall could also impact water quality through runoff and nutrient loading with consequences for water treat- ment infrastructure and human health. Climate change will have significant implications for the well-being of Albertas rural municipalities. Communities will need to incorporate climate change into their planning. Albertas rural municipalities have a long history of adapting to environmental change and in many cases have already integrated resilience to climate variability into their municipal operations. This experience provides astrongfoundationforcontinuingto build climate resiliency in preparation for projected future changes in climate that will likely be outside the norm of historical variability even in light of the uncertainty associated with these projected changes. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 49 ECOSYSTEM-BASED ADAPTATION Ecosystem-based adaptation strategies a complement to adaptation through infrastructure are proactive and can achieve multiple community benefits in addition to building climate resiliency. Thereareavarietyofwaysthatmunicipalities can approach climate change adaptation. Ecosystem-based approaches reviewed by Tracy Lee and Ken Sanderson 2014 focus on building climate resilience by protecting or restoring the healthy ecosystems that support human well-being through food production or water purification for example. Ecosystem-based adaptation complements other climate change adaptation strategies such as those that rely on the development of new infrastructure like storm sewers or stream channels but it also has several advantages. Approaches that focus on building ecosystem resilience to climate change have thepotentialtoachievemultiplecommunity objectivesthroughasingleaction.Forexample aprotectedwetlandupstreamofacommunity maintainstheresilienceofthecommunitys watersupplywhilealsocontinuingtoprovide criticalhabitatforaquaticplantsandwildlife storecarbonandfilterwater. Becausetheyhavemultiplebenefitsthese strategiesarelower-riskoftentermedno- regretsinlightoftheuncertaintyassociated withpredictingtheexactimpactsofclimate changeonacommunity.Thoughthebenefits andcostsofeachadaptationstrategywilldepend onthespecificnatureoftherisksidentified byindividualcommunitiesecosystem-based approachesareoftencost-effectiveinparticular becauseasingleactioncansupportmultiple communityobjectivesandaddressmultiple climatechangerisks. Ecosystem-based adaptation strategies can help build climate resiliency for rural municipalities. 50 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY CLIMATE CHANGE AND MUNICIPAL PLANNING Municipal governments in southern Alberta have a variety of options for incorporating climate change adaptation into their policies and planning processes. As the level of government closest to residents municipalities are well-positioned to imple- ment plans and strategies that can benefit the health security and liveability of Albertas communities in a changing climate. A variety of opportunities reviewed by Guy Greenaway and colleagues 2014 exist for municipal governments in southern Alberta to incorpo- rate climate change adaptation into existing policies and plans. For example Broad-scale planning and development strategies like Municipal Development Plans that outline a vision for the entire municipality and therefore have pervasive influence can yield potentially large gains in climate resilience through relatively small changes such as changes in plans for future land use in the municipality. Non-statutory plans like sustainability plans and growth management strategies will play an increasing role in providing specific opportunities to incorporate climate change into municipal planning. Agricultural Services Boards and Agricultural Fieldmen in rural municipalities represent a vital link for implementing climate change adaptation strategies because of their responsibility and concern for agricultural viability and ecological resource sustainability. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 51ADAPT-ACTION A TOOL FOR COMMUNITIES Adapt-action is a free web-based support tool for Alberta municipalities uniquely designed to help them include climate resiliency in their planning.39 Adapt-action provides practical and credible information on the implications of climate change for municipalities the causal environmental changes and potential adaptation strategies. Adapt-actions focus on 39 Available at ecosystem-based strategies complements resources that emphasize infrastructure approaches to building climate resiliency. The Adapt-action website is a hub for practical information on climate change adaptation planning for municipalities. 52 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY There is considerable uncertainty in predicting future climatic conditions and their effects on Albertas biodiversity. Better understanding the sources of this uncertainty allows for more effective planning and decision-making. Predictions about future events or outcomes will always be uncertain. This is particularly true in projecting future conditions that result from the complex interactions between climate change and biodiversity. Importantly incorporation of predictions about future conditionsintoeffectivemanagementplanning requires an understanding of the sources of uncertainty and the level of confidence associated with those predictions. What contributes to uncertainty in climate change projections for biodiversity Uncertainty in projections for Albertas future biodiversity can arise from several sources including uncertainty in the accuracy of climatic conditions predicted by the global climate models GCMs differences in the modeling algorithms quality of the data used to parameterize the models and the often unpredictable ecological responses of species and communities to novel environments. The accuracy of GCMs will be influenced by the natural variability in climate systems by the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and by differences between the algorithms employed by different modeling groups. Uncertainty in the projections of future climate conditions increases through projected time the largest component of uncertainty about the far future is whether and how society limits emissions. Projectionsfromglobalclimatemodelswere employedbymuchoftheresearchonthe BMCCAprojectandinmostcasesuncertainties inmodelprojectionswereboundedbyreporting resultsfromseveraldifferentmodelsunderone ormoregreenhousegasemissionsscenario. What are we most confident about While outcomes from individual projects should be viewed with caution careful analysis suggests some robust generalities that emerge across studies. Higher levels of certainty are associated with good data and with agreement among differing analyses. Confidence is highest when there are multiple and consistent sources of high-quality evidence. For example Richard Schneider 2013 investigated changes in Albertas ecosystems under several climate change scenarios and concluded that the projected direction of change in the climates for each Subregion and the potential subsequent transformation of ecosystems were consistent for most of Albertas Natural Subregions and for the majority of climate models. Projections from different GCMs differed primarily in the speed with which the changes will occur. To examine the reliability of ecological niche models for predicting the future distribution of boreal birds Diana Stralberg and colleagues 2015 evaluated the magnitude of projected changes in species abundances relative to the uncertainty associated with those projections. They found that despite increasing uncertainty towards the end of the century the magnitude of the projected directional change in species abundance generally exceeded the uncertainty. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 53Contrarytoexpectationsuncertaintyaboutthe stateofAlbertasavifaunadeclineswithlonger timehorizonsbecauseofthelargemagnitude oftheprojectedchange.Moredetailedanalysis suggestedthatgreateruncertaintywasassoci- atedwithspeciesofdeciduousforestsbecause theyarestronglydependentonmoisture conditionsandthereforemoresensitivetothe climatemodelemployed.Forthemajorityof speciesGCMuncertaintywasmuchlarger thanmodelordatauncertaintyhighlightingthe needforscenarioplanningaswellasadaptive monitoringandmanagementasmoredataare collected.Forseveralsubarcticspecieshowever highuncertaintywasrelatedtodatagapsthat shouldbeaddressed. In some cases consistent outcomes have emerged from individual studies in which uncertainty was not explicitly addressed. For example multiple independent analyses suggest the wetter Foothills Natural Region and higher elevation hill systems are likely to remain climatically suitable for a large diversity of boreal species in the future Stolar and Nielsen in revision Stralberg in revision Stralberg et al. 2014 while grassland species are likely to expand into the drier boreal plains region Nixon et al. 2015 Schneider 2013 Stralberg and Bayne 2013. How can uncertainty be incorporated into planning and decision-making Uncertainty about the way climate change will affect biodiversity does not necessarily mean that we cannot make effective management decisions. Natural resource planning usually uses a deterministic approach in which the management approach chosen is the one most likely to achieve the desired result based on the assumption that future conditions can be predicted. For example maintaining forest inventory dictates harvest levels based on growth and yield estimates. However if forest productivity changes with the changing climate current harvest levels may no longer meet stated goals. Richard Schneider 2014 explored several options for advancing biodiversity-related planning in the face of climate change uncer- tainty. One approach is a no regrets strategy designed to produce acceptable if not ideal management outcomes across a wide range of potential futures. Another approach is bet hedging in which a variety of strategies is applied simultaneously across the landscape with the expectation that some will be more effective than others. This approach can be evolved into a classic adaptive management approach in which the better alternatives are identified and adopted more broadly. A triage approach is contentious in that it entails shifting from trying to save all species to making a conscious decision to invest resources into saving certain species while accepting losses of others. Fromacommunityadaptationperspective ecosystem-basedadaptationhelpstoaddressthe uncertaintyassociatedwithplanningforclimate change.Becausetheyhavemultiplebenefits thesestrategiesarelower-riskinlightofthe uncertaintyassociatedwithpredictingtheexact impactsofclimatechangeonacommunity. 54 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Through its coordinated research efforts the BMCCA project has created a large body of knowledge that contributes to a better understanding of the future of Albertas biodiversity and of the approaches that might be employed to manage the provinces living resources in the face of a changing climate. Albertas species and ecosystems will continue to shift and change. ProjectionsforthedistributionsofAlbertas regionalecosystemsindicatethepotentialfor dramaticecologicalchangeespeciallyinthe borealregionofnorthernAlberta.Similarly projectionsforavarietyofAlbertasspecies demonstratethattheclimatenichesofboreal speciesinAlbertaarehighlyvulnerabletoclimate changeanditislikelythatmanyborealspecies willshifttheirdistributionsoutoftheprovince. In contrast grassland species and ecosystems in the province have the potential to expand but these opportunities may be limited by current and potential future land-use. Differencesinthetransitionratesamongspecies andecosystemcomponentswilllikelyresultin novelcombinationsandnewecosystems. Not all Alberta species are equally vulnerable to climate change. Both broad and detailed assessments of species climate vulnerability highlight vulnerable groups or species that may require special attention. These include species already vulnerable because of land use change or other factors as well as some that are not currently at risk. Increasing inci- dence of extreme weather events exacerbates risk for many species particularly rare or at-risk species with small population sizes. However many other species especially those that are wide-ranging and adaptable will likely thrive as the climate changes. Incorporating climate change vulnerabilities into general and detailed species assessments and recovery plans will guide management actions necessary to conserve these species over the long term and respond to potential opportunities to recover species at risk. Many of these actions like habitat management and conservation are already being implemented to address non-climate risks but some novel approaches such as assisted migration may become necessary for some species. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 55 40 httpslanduse.alberta.caREGIONALPLANSPagesdefault.aspx Climate change will increase risk from invasive species. Climate change will alter conditions for plant growth in Alberta inevitably resulting in an increase in the rate at which non-na- tive species are introduced and become established in the province. Many of these species have traits expected to have negative ecological or economic consequences in Alberta. Incorporating climate change into current invasive species risk assessments can identify new priority species for early detection and rapid response and highlight priority regions for increased monitoring. Landscape-level planning should consider climate change. Expected changes in species and ecosystem distributions have consequences for current and future land use in Alberta. The stable enduring landscape features like topography and latitude characterized by Albertas NaturalSubregionswillcontinuetorepresent much of the provinces biodiversity at the ecosystem scale even as climate change progresses. We have further identified likely climate refugia for species and species groups. In particular the higher elevation areas of Alberta are likely to provide climate refugia for boreal birds and plants in the coming decades. Conservationplanningapproachesthatcombine theseelementswillhaveconsiderablecurrent andfutureconservationbenefit.Theprovincial regionalplanningprocessundertheLandUse Framework40 providesanopportunityforthe identification and establishment of climate- ready protected areas. Outside of protected areasexpandinghumanlandusewillhavemajor consequencesforbiodiversity.Landuseplanning shouldincorporateclimatechangeprojections foramoreaccuratepictureofthefutureof speciesandecosystemsintheprovince. 56 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Ecosystem-based adaptation can increase climate resiliency for local communities Although most climate change adaptation planning at the local level emphasizes engi- neered infrastructure that addresses specific climate risks ecosystem-based adaptation approaches may provide opportunities to increase climate resiliency of local communi- ties. These approaches which increase climate resiliency by identifying and managing natural infrastructure like wetlands are well-suited to municipal needs and mandates. The benefits of ecosystem-based adap- tation for local governments include 1 the co-benefits including their additional support of agriculture biodiversity conser- vation human health protection recreation planning and economic sustainability objectives 2 cost-effectiveness through harnessing existing natural infrastructure and 3 improved risk management through a proactive systems-based approach that addresses a broader range of potential impacts. Ecosystem-based adaptation approaches could complement rather than replace municipalities hard infrastructure approaches. Uncertainty in prediction and planning can be accommodated. Multiple lines of evidence detailed statistical analysis and new modeling tools allow a better assessment of the level of uncertainty associated with changes in biodiversity in response to climatic changes. Despite some lack of precision in predicting the future state of Albertas biodiversity we are now in a much better position to forecast broad patterns of future change.Avarietyofpracticalapproaches such as no-regrets or bet-hedging approaches can be employed to address future uncertainties in planning for landscape and species conservation and to incorporate uncer- tainty into management decision-making. Formunicipalitieswantingtoaddress climate-relatedriskstotheirsocialeconomic orenvironmentalwell-beingecosystem-based adaptation strategies such as wetland conservationandrestorationarelower-risk thanmanyotheradaptationstrategiesinlightof theuncertaintyassociatedwithclimatechange. Thislowerimplementationriskisaresultofthe potentialofthesestrategiestoachievemultiple communityobjectivesandaddressmorethan oneclimateriskthroughasingleaction. Continued and expanded biodiversity monitoring is required. High-quality spatially explicit observational data obtained through monitoring including species presence species abundance and ecosystem data underpin the majority of research developed through the BMCCA project. Biodiversity data can provide an early warning system for detecting the effects of climate change on species and ecosystems. These data also contribute to construction and validation of future projections of species and ecosystem distributions development of biodiversity indicators to support decision-making and evaluation of adaptive management actions. SeveralBMCCAprojectswerebasedonspecies observationdatacollectedbycitizenscientists andcontributedtolong-termdatasetssuchas theBreedingBirdSurvey41 andACIMS.42 With thecurrentandimprovingabilitytoaccurately andeasilygeo-referenceobservationsthegrowth ofthesedatasetswillbecomeanincreasingly valuablesourceofinformationforscientists investigatingtheimpactsofclimatechange onbiodiversity. 41 Breeding Bird Survey httpswww.pwrc.usgs.govbbs 42 ACIMS Alberta Conservation Information Management System. For more information httpwww.albertaparks.caalbertaparksca management-land-usealberta-conservation-information-management-system-acims.aspx CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 57 1. Expand and refine modeling of species and ecosystem distributions in Alberta especially with a focus on representing uncertainty in ways that can be incorpo- rated into management and planning. 2. Betterunderstandecologicalresponsesto climatechangeintheprovinceincluding therateandnatureofecosystemtransitions in-situadaptationtheinteractionsandlags betweenspeciesandhabitattransitions theroleoflandscapeconnectivityandhow interactionsbetweenclimatechangeand futurelandusemayimpactspeciesand ecosystemdistributions. 3. Identify and address the consequences of climate change for aquatic species and ecosystems which are potentially highly sensitive to climate change. 4. Understand the responses of species of interest to changes in environmental conditions and evaluate potential targeted management actions in terms of their social and economic costs through field research and pilot studies. A starting point would be to address species identi- fied as high vulnerability by the Climate Change Vulnerability Index and species with dramatic projected range shifts. TheBMCCAprojectmadeconsiderableprogressinidentifyingthepotentialeffectsofclimatechangeon Albertasbiodiversityandinexploringpotentialadaptationresponses.Howevereffectivelyaddressing theeffectsofclimatechangeonAlbertasbiodiversitywillrequirecontinuedresearchthatbroadensand refinestheresultsfromthisproject. Continued effort and further research is necessary to 5. Furtherdeveloptheprovincialbiodiversity monitoring system to ensure data are collectedtodetectearlysignalsofclimate change impacts validate and refine biodiversity projections based on climate envelope modeling evaluate adaptive management actions and effectivelydescribecurrentconditions asbenchmarksforfuturereference. 6. Better understand and address the policy implications of incorporating climate change into provincial planning and management including for regional land use planning and accommodate the uncertainty associated with projecting the consequences of future climate change. 7. Enable Albertas municipalities to incor- porate climate change into their planning and to implement adaptation strategies including ecosystem-based adaptations. 8. Improve public awareness and under- standing of climate change and its conse- quences for our species ecosystems and communities as an essential prerequisite for public and political support for new approaches to management and policy. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 59 Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Dan Farr Lindsay Monk Tara Narwani Amy Nixon Chris Shank Shannon White Alberta Innovates Technology Futures Shauna-Lee Chai Miistakis Institute Guy Greenaway Rachelle Haddock Greg Chernoff Tracy Lee Ken Sanderson University of Alberta Erin Bayne Ryan Fisher Scott Nielsen Jennine Pedersen Richard Schneider Diana Stralberg Jessica Stolar Jian Zhang University of Saskatchewan Jeffrey Lane Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Angele Vickers The Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation project was led by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute with contributions from a diverse team of scientists and applied researchers from collaborating institutions across the province and beyond. The BMCCA Project Steering Committee The BMCCA project benefited from the guidance and expertise of the projects Steering Committee which included representatives from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development and Alberta Municipal Affairs. We are grateful for the dedication they brought to this project. Peer-reviewed Publications Fisher R. J. T. I. Wellicome E. M. Bayne R. G. Poulin L. D. Todd and A. T. Ford. In review. Extreme precipitation causes reduced nest reoccupation and reproductive output in an endangered raptor. Journal of Applied Ecology Laux C. M. C. Nordell R. J. Fisher J. W. Ng T. I. Welli- come E.M. Bayne. In review. Ferruginous hawks alter parental behaviour in response to approaching storms. Journal of Ornithology. Schneider R. R. K. Devito N. Kettridge and E. Bayne. Submitted. Moving beyond bioclimatic envelope models integrating upland forest and peatland processes to predict ecosystem transitions under climate change in the western Canadian boreal plain. Schneider R. R. and E. M. Bayne. 2015. Reserve design under climate change from land facets back to ecosystem representation. PLoS One 105e0126918. Shank C. C. In press. Are American pikas Ochotona princeps in the Canadian Rockies vulnerable to climate change Canadian Field Naturalist Stralberg D. E.M. Bayne S.G.CummingP.SlymosS.J. SongandF.K.A.Schmiegelow.Inrevision.Conserving boreal forest birds in a rapidly changing climate amodifiedrefugiaapproach.DiversityandDistributions. All reports and publications will be available at www.biodiversityandclimate.abmi.caresourcesreports-publications. BMCCA project team members are highlighted in bold. Stralberg D. S. M. Matsuoka A. Hamann E. M. Bayne P. Slymos F. K. A. Schmiegelow X. Wang S. G. Cumming S. J. Song. 2015. Projecting boreal bird responses to climate change the signal exceeds the noise. Ecological Applications 2552-69. Stolar J. and S. E. Nielsen. Inrevision.Mitigatingpotential lossesofAlbertasrarevascularplantsandbutterflies underclimatechangeandresourceuse.Ecosphere. Stolar J. and S. E. Nielsen. 2015. Accounting for spatially-biased sampling effort in presence- only species distribution modelling. Diversity and Distributions 21595-608. Wellicome T.I. R.J. Fisher R.G. Poulin L.D. Todd E.M. Bayne T.D. Flockhart J. Schmutz K. De Smet P. James. 2014. Return rate of endangered burrowing owls in Canada is influenced by weather during migration and on their wintering grounds. The Condor 116446-458. ZhangJ.S.E.NielsenJ.StolarY.ChenandW.Thuiller. Inreview.Gainsandlossesofplantspeciesandphylo- geneticdiversityforanorthernhigh-latituderegion. DiversityandDistributions. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 61Final Reports Chai S.-L. A. Nixon J. Zhang and S. Nielsen. 2014. Predicting invasive plant responses to climate change Prioritization and mapping of new potential threats to Albertas biodiversity. Prepared for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. 64pp. Fisher R. and E. Bayne. 2014. Climate change adaptation plan for Burrowing Owls in Alberta. Prepared for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. 63pp. Nixon A. R. J. Fisher D. Stralberg and E. Bayne. 2015. Projected responses of Alberta grassland songbirds to climate change. Prepared for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. 53pp. Shank C. C. and E. M. Bayne. 2015. Climate change adaptation plan for Ferruginous Hawks in Alberta. Prepared for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. 42pp. Shank C. C. and A. Nixon. 2014. Climate change vulnera- bility of Albertas native terrestrial biodiversity a preliminary assessment. Prepared for the Biodiver- sity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Canada. 62pp. Schneider R. R. 2014. Conserving Albertas biodiversity under climate change a review and analysis of adaptation measures. Prepared for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. 65pp. Schneider R. R. 2013. Albertas biodiversity under a changing climate past present and future. Prepared for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. 97pp. Interim Reports All interim reports were prepared as progress reports for the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute Edmonton Alberta Canada. Bayne E. and D. Stralberg. 2015. Bird community composition along elevation and latitudinal gradients in Albertas mixedwood forest analogues for our future climate 26pp. Bayne E. and S. Nielsen. 2012. Scientific support for assessing the vulnerability of Albertas biodiversity to climate change. 15pp. ChernoffG.2014.AblueprintforengagementStakeholder engagementstrategyfortheAdapt-actiontool.14pp. Chernoff G. 2013. Downscaling climate data for climate change adaptation action planning in Alberta. 19pp. Fisher R. and E. Bayne. 2013. Protecting rare grassland birds from extreme weather events. 15pp. Fisher R. and E. Bayne. 2012. Protecting rare grassland birds from extreme weather events. 17pp. Greenaway G. 2014. Navigating with narratives Using a narrative approach to connect climate change implications and adaptation actions. 30pp. Greenaway G. 2013. Making resilience matter Communications strategy for the local adaptations sub-project. 20pp. GreenawayG.2013.WhereresiliencemeetspolicyAreview ofsouthernAlbertamunicipalpoliciesforclimatechange adaptationstrategyinsertionpoints.43pp. Greenaway G. T. Lee G. Chernoff and K. Sanderson. 2013. Proposed action plan approach for local adaptation to climate change in Alberta. 50pp. Greenaway G. T. Lee G. Chernoff and K. Sanderson. 2012. Review of possible tools for local adaptation to climate change in Alberta. 78pp. Haddock R. and G. Greenaway. 2014. Groundwork understanding user assumptions and bases for the Adapt-action tool. 68pp. 62 CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY Lane J. 2014. Climate change and assisted migration of montane mammals. 15pp. Lee T. G. Chernoff and K. Sanderson. 2014. Environ- mental changes and implications of climate change for rural communities in the Grassland Natural Region of Alberta. 31pp. Lee T. and K. Sanderson. 2014. Ecosystem-based Adaptation EbA The role of EbA to address climate change in Southern Alberta. 21pp. Nielsen S. 2013. Technologies for conserving climate-sensitive species at risk rare plants. 19pp. Nixon A. M. Iravani T. Habib and S. R. White. 2015. Climate change and the provision of ecosystem services in Alberta an initial assessment of impacts and adaptation strategies on Albertas rangeland. 21pp. Nordell C. and E. M. Bayne. 2015. REACT Ferruginous Hawk climate change study summary. 12pp. PedersenJ.S.NielsenandE.MacDonald.2014a.Assisted migrationofthenorthernblazingstarandlong-leaved bluetsinAlberta2014progressreport.19pp. Pedersen J. S. Nielsen and E. MacDonald. 2014b. Assisted migration of the long-leaved bluets and northern blazing star in Alberta. 19pp. Sanderson K. 2013. Climate change adaptation action plans Alberta process review. 18pp. Shank C. C. 2012. Framework for assessing the vulner- ability of Albertas biodiversity to climate change. 61pp. Stralberg D. E. Bayne and S. Nielsen. 2014. Hills refugia project 2014 update. 25 pp. StralbergD.R.R.SchneiderandE.M.Bayne.2014. SummaryClimaterefugiaforborealbirdsinAlberta.1p. Stralberg D. and E. M. Bayne. 2013. Modeling avifaunal responses to climate change across Albertas Natural Regions. 98pp. Stralberg D. 2012. General circulation model recommen- dations for Alberta. 9pp. WhiteS.R.M.BiltonF.SlowikE.BorkK.Tielborger J.F.Cahill.Anovelapproachtopredictingspeciesresponses toclimatechangeintheCanadianprairies.16pp. Report content in preparation for submission to peer-reviewed publication. Summary available online. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY 63 The material in this publication does not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of any individual or organization other than the authors. Errors omissions or inconsistencies in this publication are the sole responsibilities of the authors. The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute assumes no liability in connection with the information products or services made available by the Institute. While every effort is made to ensure the information contained in these products and services is correct the ABMI disclaims any liability in negligence or otherwise for any loss or damage which may occur as a result of reliance on this material. TheClimateChangeandEmissionsManagement Corporation CCEMC makes no warranty expressorimpliednorassumeanylegalliability orresponsibilityfortheaccuracycompleteness orusefulnessofanyinformationcontainedinthis publicationnorthatusethereofdoesnotinfringe onprivatelyownedrights.Theviewsandopinions oftheauthorexpressedhereindonotnecessarily reflectthoseofCCEMC.Thedirectorsofficers employeesagentsandconsultantsofCCEMCare exemptedexcludedandabsolvedfromallliability fordamageorinjury howsoevercausedtoany personinconnectionwithorarisingoutoftheuse bythatpersonforanypurposeofthispublication oritscontents. This report was produced as part of the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change Adaptation Project. This project is led by the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute with collaborators from the University of Alberta Alberta Innovates Technology Futures the University of Saskatchewan and the Miistakis Institute. The project receives its core funding from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation. Additional support was provided by the Boreal Avian Modelling Project and the Alberta Conservation Association. Photo credits CoverphotobadlandscreditSteveBrusselers p.6borealcreditCharlieSikkemap.17 TennesseeWarblercreditPaulReevesOvenbird creditStubblefieldPhotographyp.19Western MeadowlarkcreditTomReichnerSpragues PipitcreditGlennBartleyp.22GlacierLily creditVarinaCrisfieldp.23nativeprairie creditMonicaDahlp.25PurplePitcherPlant creditKendalBeneshCoyotecreditAngel DiBilioHarlequinDuckcreditPeterMassas GreatPlainsToadcreditLaurelBadurap.26 AmericanPikacreditChrisKolaczanp.28 BurrowingOwlinflightcreditTroyWellicome p.29FerruginousHawkcreditTomReichner p.30TamariskcreditChristianMusatp.32 ElkcreditNickParaykop.35BurrowingOwls creditTroyWellicomeFerruginousHawk nestcreditJanetNgp.36ColumbianGround SquirrelcreditCraigHardingp.39Northern BlazingStarcreditScottNielsenp.44Cypress HillscreditPictureguyp.46monitoringcredit DainaAndersonp.47MedicineHatcredit BrendaCarsonp.50stormcreditKateTucker p.55bryophytecreditAshleyHillmanp.58 BlackBeartrackscreditDainaAnderson. CLIMATE CHANGE ALBERTAS BIODIVERSITY EDMONTON OFFICE Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute CW 405 Biological Sciences Centre University of Alberta Edmonton Alberta Canada T6G 2E9 Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute ABbiodiversity