Florida is expected to be more severely impacted by climate change over the next century than most other states in the U.S. Many species of fish and wildlife in Florida have limited ranges that are determined in part by climatic conditions and their survival could be threatened by future climatic shifts. The Climate Adaptation Explorer (CAE) provides a starting point from which to address the predicted impacts of climate change on Florida’s fish, wildlife and ecosystems. It is intended to serve as a resource in understanding potential impacts and help in the development of adaptation strategies that could be implemented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other natural resource management agencies. The CAE will provide the tools for better integration of adaptation actions and tasks into broader policies and programs, serving as a toolkit to help natural resource managers and others understand and address current and future impacts of climate change on Florida’s ecosystems.
In 2016, the FWC completed a document titled, “A Guide to Climate Adaptation for Conservation.” The CAE is designed to take the content of this previous document and develop a web-based tool where natural resource researchers, biologists, managers, planners and policy makers can access foundational climate science and adaptation information. Designed to be an information hub, the CAE provides an easy-to-navigate format for users to access a broad array of climate change information, such as impacts of climate change in Florida, impacts on Florida’s species, impacts on Florida’s ecosystems and habitats, interactions with existing stressors, etc.
The goal of the CAE is to increase the implementation of “climate-smart” conservation, which is the intentional and deliberate consideration of climate change in natural resource management, realized through forward-looking goals and explicitly linking strategies to key climate impacts and vulnerabilities.
Ecological consequences of expected climate change on species and ecosystems were identified through literature and consultations with experts. Possible compounding effects with existing stressors, such as habitat loss, invasive species and pathogens, pests and pollutants, were identified. Spatial analysis and habitat modeling were used in the assessment of impacts of sea level rise on species and their habitats. Adaptation strategies were identified or developed to provide examples of actions that can be implemented to increase the resiliency of species and ecosystems.
Anyone interested in the impacts of climate change on Florida’s fish, wildlife, and ecosystems will find this tool useful, not just scientists and conservation managers. It is the hope of FWC that a wide variety people will use this tool for addressing climate impacts through planning, policy and implementation of adaptation strategies. The Center for Spatial Analysis at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative are both involved in this project. Beth Stys at FWRI serves as the project lead. This project is complete, although updated and additional information will be added as it becomes available. The Climate Adaptation Explorer can be accessed at: https://climateadaptationexplorer.org/
A major component of the CAE is a roadmap for how to implement climate adaptation strategies for a given situation.
Left: The CAE includes profiles for 31 habitats, including this example from a freshwater wetlands habitat. Middle: An example of a species profile from the CAE. Note the vulnerability rating in the right-hand corner, as well as the habitat requirements of the species. Right: The “impacts” section of the CAE explores many of the ways climate change will affect Florida wildlife and habitats.