Research

Under some climate change scenarios, forests in the western Great Lakes Region would be transformed to open savanna in the next century. Projected changes in climate, the rate at which change will occur, and the potential for transitional plant and animal communities all point to a need to prepare responses to possible climate scenarios in the western Great Lakes National Park Service (NPS) units. Retention of current species, persistence of northern species in thermal refuges, and neo-native species moving northward in response to climate change will depend on the magnitude of change and the degree to which mitigation is successful.

Our project objectives are to:

  1. Identify likely vegetation changes from the present to 2100 for NPS units and nearby areas
  2. Predict responses of bird and mammal species to both climate and vegetation change
  3. Create lists of species likely to decrease, disappear, increase, or immigrate into each park
  4. Locate the best currently existing analog climates and natural area vegetation for each park
  5. Conduct sensitivity analysis and indirect validation with recent climate data
  6. Develop workshops for NPS personnel within the Western Great Lakes Region
  7. Develop visualization tools for presentation and interpretation of future climate change impacts