A recently completed SERDP project provides a new understanding of seven target species and their conservation resilience as global climate change creates novel environments in and around Department of Defense (DoD) lands. Utilizing a new combined empirical protocol and theoretical framework, the team studied seven species of animals and plants: Hydaspe fritillary butterfly (Speyeria hydaspe), Appalachian brown butterfly (Satyrodes Appalachia), Western snowy plovers (Charadrius nivosus nivosus), red-legged frogs (Rana aurora and R. draytonii), Alaskan Douglasia (Douglasia alaskana), Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) and red-cockaded woodpeckers (Dryobates borealis). 

The work provides a set of tools to assist DoD land managers anticipate future management needs as a result of global climate change. For each species the team measured climate-demographic rate relationships in combination with climate projection models to develop Spatially Explicit Environmental Driver (SEED) models. The SEED models then projected how populations would be impacted by predicted changes in local climates.

The project revealed many significant and important elements in understanding climate change impacts on species. Project results revealed the complexity of climate-demographic rate relationships. While most species were affected by multiple climatic drivers, the most complex life histories had no fewer than nine different climate variables impacting demographic rates. In addition, many species exhibited contrasting effects of climate across different life stages and temperature. In fact, with the exception of clutch size of the first nest and probability of double brooding in red-cockaded woodpeckers and fecundity in red-legged frogs, temperature was a factor in every demographic rate sensitive to climate change. 

Read about the impacts for yourself soon when the Final Report is available on the SERDP website at the end of the summer.