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Welcome to Beyond Seasons’ End

Written on March 9, 2010 by John Cooper and Steve Williams 2 Comments »

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A message from John Cooper, past president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Steve Williams, executive director of the Wildlife Management Institute and past director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Welcome to Beyond Seasons’ End, a site designed exclusively for wildlife and fisheries professionals confronting the threat of global climate change. The site is a response to comments from many of you calling for an electronic work space that (more…)

Genetics linked to climate-driven behavior, studies show

Written on March 11, 2012 by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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Habitat shifts reducing chipmunks’ genetic diversity

spacer As temperatures in Yosemite National Park have warmed more than five degrees Fahrenheit over the past 100 years, alpine chipmunks have shifted their habitat from 7,800-foot elevations to more than 9,400 feet.  The upslope migration to the cooler climes has fragmented populations of the small mammal, leading to isolated pockets of chipmunks that have become more genetically homogenous when compared to their historic counterparts. 

Conducted by researchers at the University of California Berkeley, the study suggests that “genetically impoverished populations” are more vulnerable to the effects of inbreeding, disease and other problems that threaten species survival. “Under continued warming, the alpine chipmunk could be on the trajectory towards becoming threatened or even extinct,” says the study’s lead author, Emily Rubidge. 

As noted  February 19 in the journal Nature Climate Change (subscription required), the chipmunk study is hailed as the first to empirically link a climate-driven geographic shift in habitat to a species’ loss of genetic diversity. 

Study relates genetic diversity to extinction vulnerability

Looking at genetic composition within plant species, authors of a paper published on line in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences (available at no charge),  demonstrates the importance of genetic diversity in plants’ adaptive capacity and consequent survivability under changing habitat conditions.  

Species, the scientists say, respond to climate change through local adaptation, range shift, range reduction, or a combination of these actions. Range shift could increase genetic diversity within a species, while range reduction would reduce diversity and diminish the species’ adaptive capacity.   

A species’ method of seed dispersal and its growth form are traits that influence distribution of genetic diversity within and among populations. Considering these factors increases the accuracy of predicting a species’ genetic vulnerability due to climate change.   

Butterfly exhibits evolutionary adaptation to a changing climate



British scientists studying the expanded distribution of the Brown Argus butterfly propose that variations in habitat preference exhibited among different populations of the insect improve the species’ adaptive capacity and promotes successful expansion of its range as climate conditions change.

The study (available free of charge) was conducted by scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield and published in Molecular Ecology. The authors undertook to “understand the role of evolution in helping a species to successfully track ongoing climate change.” Genetic variation in ecological traits throughout a specie’s distribution, the study posits, bolsters the speed and success of potential adaptation.

Warm-adapted species pushing out cold mountain biota

Written on by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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As temperatures increase, shrubs will overtake alpine meadows. Photo: USFS

Describing the process as thermophilization, European scientists have documented the transformation of mountain plant communities as the more cold-adapted species decline and the more warm-adapted species increase. Analyzing vegetation from 60 summits throughout Europe’s major mountain ranges at a seven-year interval, biologists determined that similar changes in mountain plant communities were occurring independent of altitude and latitude. Changes were most rapid, however, in areas where temperatures have increased the fastest. The study, published in Molecular Ecology and available at no charge, indicates that, across the continent, cold-loving plants indigenous to alpine regions are being pushed out by more heat-tolerant plants. Considering the projections of future climate change, the authors suggest their observations point to a progressive decline of cold mountain habitats and their biota.

Field and Stream article stimulates sportsmen’s conversation

Written on February 19, 2012 by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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An interview with Todd Tanner, outdoorsman, writer and founder of Conservation Hawks, challenges spacer readers to convince him that climate change is not real – and he promises his Beretta to the person who persuades him he need not worry about the issue. The article has stimulated a lively exchange of comments.

Citing climate change as the most important issue that hunters and anglers have ever had to face, Conservation Hawks is an organization devoted to protecting America’s sporting heritage for future generations. The non-profit organization proposes to accomplish its goal through research, education, training, advocacy and public outreach.

Climate Adaptation Strategy seeks comments

Written on January 20, 2012 by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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The draft of the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is available for review and comment until March 5.  A collaborative effort among  federal, state, and tribal partners with input from many other diverse groups from across the nation, the strategy proposes a unified approach for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, plants, and the natural systems upon which they depend.


Hunters and anglers may be first to notice fish and wildlife responses to climate change. Photo: AFWA

Seeking to establish a nation-wide framework  for conserving fish, wildlife and ecosystem functions in a changing climate, the draft document

  • summarizes the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on various ecosystems
  • sets seven goals for immediate and future actions to protect natural resources
  • suggests ways that government, conservation organizations and private stakeholders can integrate and implement the strategy

Public workshops will be held at several locations around the country as well as on line to promote discussion of the draft strategy. Comments may be submitted on line.

Durban conference advances international action on climate change

Written on December 27, 2011 by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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spacer Media reports from December’s U.N.-sponsored talks on climate change in Durban frequently describe it as accomplishing little, as an overall failure to solve climate issues on an international level. Yet other observers claim the conference produced a package of agreements  “essential for any hope of a meaningful contribution to mitigation and adaptation to climate change out of this forum, but it also avoided a disaster that would have sent this process back to where it started in 1992.”

Andrew Light, director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University and a fellow at Center for American Progress, continues his analysis of the achievements of Durban by citing six key changes in the design of international climate agreements:

  •  The Kyoto Protocol and its component parts will continue.
  •  The Green Climate Fund, along with it other components of the Cancun Agreements like the new Clean Technology Center and Network  is no longer simply a concept but is now a reality.
  • There is now a work plan in place to bridge the gap between parties’ unilateral pledges to reduce their emissions by 2020 and the actions needed to realize a path to limiting temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius.
  • Durban resulted in a process to produce a legal instrument to replace both the Cancun Agreements and the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Durban tore down the firewall between developed and developing countries. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “The deal … ends  this differentiation between the developed and the developing [countries] in terms of what we all have to do to meet this global challenge.”
  • By requiring the new Durban Platform to produce a legal agreement that applies to all parties equally, the obstacle of a 1997 U.S. Senate resolution rejecting consideration of a climate treaty that divided responsibilities between developed and developing countries was overcome.

Record number of weather disasters in 2011 costs nation billions

Written on by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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spacer Linked to climate change, trend is expected to continue

As of the first of December , 12 billion-dollar weather disasters  had occurred in the U.S. in 2011, breaking any single year’s record for costly floods, droughts, wildfires, windstorms, blizzards and tornadoes.  The number of disasters in 2011 could climb higher as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continues to collect data from two storms it has not yet declared breaking the billion-dollar damage mark, the October Northeast snowstorm and Tropical Storm Lee. The 12 storms cost 646 people their lives.

At least some of the increases in the number and intensity of natural disasters is attributable to climate change, according to NOAA’s chief, Jan Luchenco. Speaking at the meeting  of the American Geophysical Union this fall, Lubchenco warned, “What we are seeing this year is not just an anomalous year, but a harbinger of things to come for at least a subset of those extreme events that we are tallying.”  

The reinsurer Munich Re estimates the aggregate damage caused by the 12 disasters totals $52 billion. And this company, one of the world’s leading reinsurers, asserts there is a connection between the increase in natural disasters and climate change: “The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change.”

Well known climatologist Kenneth Trenberth explains that the increasing intensity of storms is linked to  warmer air holding a greater amount of water vapor. Compared to 30 years ago, there is about a 4 percent increase in atmospheric moisture, supplying storm systems with additional energy.

Carbon emissions took unprecedented jump in 2010

Written on by Beyond Seasons End Post a Commment »

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spacer Global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels jumped last year by 564 million tons, the largest absolute increase ever recorded. The degree of annual increase, nearly 6 percent, was greater than any since 2003, signaling that the drop in emissions caused by the recent world-wide economic recession would not be sustained.

Scientists contributing to the report issued by the Global Carbon Project  do not think 2010’s extraordinary growth in emissions will persist. Rather, they expect yearly growth to be around 3 percent – close to triple the growth rate in the 1990s.

Due largely to the aggressive building of coal-fired electrical plants, China emerged as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. Its emissions increased by 10.4 percent in 2010, compared to 4 percent in the U.S. Together the two countries account for 50 percent of the overall increase in greenhouse gases. In contrast, other industrialized countries which were signatories of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol have reduced their emissions overall, achieving the targeted reduction in emissions of about 8 percent below 1990 levels.

The 2010 level of emissions push the forecast for future temperature averages beyond the worst-case scenarios of earlier projections. Climate scientists cite the inability to curb the rise in emissions, let alone the failure to halt emissions, as surely increasing the difficulty, if not guaranteeing the impossibility, of forestalling drastic changes in the climate in the coming decades.

The Global Carbon Project was formed in 2001 to assist the international science community in establishing a common, mutually agreed-upon knowledge base to support policy debate and actions to slow the rate of increase of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

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