Organization: Department of Interior (DOI)

Research Title: Impacts of Global Change on Fish and Wildlife

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 1.9
FY95 1.5
FY96 1.0

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Subcommittee (100%)
(b) Environmental Issue: Large-scale Changes in Marine Ecosystems (95%), UV Radiation (5%)
(c) Research Activity: System structure and function: Understanding (50%), Observation (8%); Assessment (20%); Data Management (22%).

Organizational Component:
U.S. Geological Survey
104 National Center
Reston, VA 22092

Point of Contact:
Michael Carr
Phone: 703-648-4408

Research Goals:
What have been and what will be the impacts of global change on biodiversity remain significant concerns of resource managers and policy makers. This program develops long-term monitoring projects to detect and assess changes caused by global change in priority fish and wildlife resources

Research Description:
Activities include augmenting surveys of migratory birds, fish stocks, and endangered species and initiating new biological diversity surveys in two critical areas: mid- western prairie potholes and coastal ecosystems. By documenting changes in the abundance and distribution of target species, and the range and composition of significant ecosystems and biological communities, this program: 1) establishes a reference base to clearly demonstrate and assess the extent, magnitude, and rate of ecological impacts of global change, 2) highlights species and systems at risk, and 3) improves understanding of the mechanisms and causes of change. The program draws on the established infrastructure within the DOI for managed and protected study sites, laboratory and support facilities, and information management.

Environmental variations caused by global change will alter species abundance, distribution and diversity; community structure and composition; and ecosystem dynamics and energetics; and is expected to lead to species extinctions. However, current information is not adequate to model and predict the specific faunal and floral responses which will occur. To anticipate changes and manage the Nation's fish and wildlife and the natural systems which support them, the FWS is augmenting ongoing monitoring and modeling activities with field and laboratory experiments. These studies will determine thermal and hydrologic limits, changes in migratory patterns, physiological responses to increased ultraviolet radiation, habitat use, productivity, and the range, abundance and distribution of key species. These baseline data will be used to develop and validate methods for estimating trends, evaluate the efficiency of existing survey methods, analyze patterns of species richness, determine the sensitivity of life history stages to changing ambient conditions, and predict changes in distributions and abundance of species and communities. This information will provide managers with the scientific basis for policy-relevant assessments of the effects of global change.

Program Interfaces:
Governmental and non-governmental participants in global change research, policy makers, resource managers, and multi-sector groups concerned with linking research to sustainable use and management of biological resources. Data and information are available to all agencies and researchers in the USGCRP. This research is being conducted in cooperation with several Federal agencies, State governments and universities. Several agreements build on new and long-standing interagency agreements with several Federal agencies including EPA, DOE, NOAA, NASA, USFS, and USGS. FWS brings to the USGCRP several unique long-term databases that can be used as baseline information to evaluate the impacts of global change on biodiversity. The FWS Reserves provide managed, protected study sites that are invaluable for researchers and educational programs that foster public awareness of global change issues.

Program Milestones:

Policy Payoffs:
The program builds upon existing long-term efforts to monitor and assess fish and wildlife populations. Evaluation and augmentation of existing databases that have been maintained for some species (e.g., Great Lakes stock assessments, Breeding Bird Survey) for decades is resulting in improvements in the collection and analysis of this information. New methods using advanced technologies such as GIS and AVHRR, are being developed and validated. These efforts are improving the accuracy and efficiency of estimating trends in species and communities and provide information of immediate use to policy makers and resource managers. Research results address the impacts of climate change, ozone depletion, and deforestation on biodiversity.