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Interior’s Secretary Jewell Announces New Wildlife and Climate Studies at the Southeast Climate Science Center
Helping Ecosystems, Plants, Animals, and Fish Cope with Climate Change
Released: 12/19/2013 11:00:00 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Gerard  McMahon 1-click interview
Phone: 919-604-2572

Christian Quintero 1-click interview
Phone: 813-498-5019

Reporters: Descriptions of the funded projects for the Southeast CSC are available here.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has announced today that Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center is awarding more than $800,000 to universities and other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.

"Even as we take new steps to cut carbon pollution, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country," said Secretary Jewell. "These new studies, and others that are ongoing, will help provide valuable, unbiased science that land managers and others need to identify tools and strategies to foster resilience in resources across landscapes in the face of climate change."

The seven funded studies, plus one that will be conducted jointly with the Northeast CSC, will focus on how climate change will affect natural resources, and management actions that can be taken to help offset such change. They include:


  • In a joint project with the Northeast CSC, researchers will examine a complex local-scale conservation problem: helping resource managers effectively address the impacts associated with sea-level rise and coastal flooding on migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
  • Aiding multiple state, federal and local stakeholders with making effective decisions that optimize the protection, conservation and sustainability of barrier islands and their habitats.
  • Helping the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Florida by providing the scientific information they need to prioritize land acquisition for a new wildlife refuge that will protect many vulnerable species in the face of projected coastal land changes and sea-level rise. This work will aid the new Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in identifying and acquiring the most critical land for high-priority species.  
  • Working with partners to develop a suite of scientific climate models for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Caribbean region, an area where climate-related impacts on ecosystems and water resources are most likely to result from changes in the timing, pattern and availability of moisture.
  • Developing state-of-the-art climate and meteorological scenarios for the southeastern United States to predict factors of interest for understanding ecological responses to climate change, with a particular focus on the Appalachian region.
  • Examining the effects of pest, urbanization and climate-related threats to southeastern forests, especially the possibility of regional extinction of certain tree species. This information is needed by forest managers to identify species and areas most vulnerable to climate change effects and therefore most in need of management decisions to help offset those effects.
  • Developing a decision support system for a keystone southeastern species, the gopher tortoise, that will help managers conserve tortoise populations and the important ecological communities associated with and often dependent upon this species and its burrows.


"The intersection of science and policymaking is always challenging, especially when dealing with complex scientific issues such as climate change, and resource allocation decisions that balance public priorities now and in the future," said Gerard McMahon, director of Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center.  "Our intention with the projects funded by the Southeast Climate Science Center this year is to ensure that these scientific products developed by our researchers contribute information necessary for making effective decisions."


Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, universities supporting the CSCs, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in the Southeast in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.

The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities that comprise the Southeast CSC, from USGS science centers, and from other partners such as the states, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USDA Forest Service, Indian tribes, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.

The eight DOI Climate Science Centers form a national network, and are coordinated by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's strategy to address the impacts of climate change on America’s waters, land, and other natural and cultural resources. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient in the face of climate change.

The Southeast Climate Science Center is hosted by the North Carolina State University; it conducts climate science for Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, of Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Texas.  

Useful links:

Southeast CSC Projects

Southeast CSC Homepage

Visit the SE CSC website at NCSU.


Full list of funded projects for all eight DOI Climate Science Centers

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USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit USGS.gov, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels.
Subscribe to our news releases via e-mail, RSS or Twitter.

Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication.



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