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Connectivity for Climate Change in the Southeastern United States

Climate change is already affecting biodiversity, changing the dates when birds arrive to breed and when flowers bloom in spring, and shifting the ranges of species as they move to cooler places. One problem for wildlife as their ranges shift is that their path is often impeded – their habitats have become fragmented by agriculture and urbanization, presenting barriers to their migration. Because of this, the most common recommended strategy to protect wildlife as climate changes is to connect their habitats, providing them safe passage. There are great challenges to implementing this strategy in the southeastern U.S., however, because most intervening lands between habitat patches are held in private ownership. We will combine data on key wildlife species and their habitats throughout the southeastern U.S. with new computer modeling technologies that allow us to identify key connections that will be robust to regional and global changes in climate and land use.

Our proposed work will engage LCCs and other stakeholders in identifying focal species and key connections, and in designing and then implementing a connectivity plan. Our effort will provide a template for how to reconnect landscapes in the southeastern U.S. to permit wildlife to adapt to a changing climate.

Total funding for this project is $300,000. Funding levels in FY12 are $150,000, while anticipated funding levels in FY13 are $150,000.

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