The value of climate information for supporting management decisions within the Plains and Prairie Potholes LCC
The Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PPPLCC) is a partnership of Federal and State Agencies, NGOs and others that is tasked with facilitating the flow of information from scientists to managers. The goal of the partnership is to ensure that scientific information can be directly useful to managers, and to prioritize this information so that scientists can better understand where to focus their efforts. Among the many charges of LCCs is translating landscape scale stressors, such as climate change, into information that can be used by land managers. However, in order to understand how climate information would be best used, LCC partners need to understand whether climate information would improve their ability to make decisions compared with resolving other uncertainties. In other words, a partner might make a different decision if they had information before needing to make a choice about a strategy, compared to making the same decision without that same information. The goal of this project was to develop a case study using tools from decision analysis to better understand how to go about prioritizing information needs, such as climate information, that may be relevant for managers.
Bridging the gap between models created by climate scientists and the needs of land managers was one of the primary goals of this project. Climate scientists need a better understanding of the type of climate information decision-makers need so that their outputs will more effectively meet their needs; and conversely, decision-makers need better information about how a changing climate may affect their management alternatives and conservation objectives. Thus, members of the PPP-LCC need decision-relevant information about how climate will change and how these changes will affect their conservation objectives.
The goals of this project were to (1) build connections between the PPP-LCC, the North Central Climate Science Center (NC CSC), and the NOAA Climate Prediction and Projection Pilot Platform (NCPP) to facilitate a link between the end users and the producers of climate information, as well as to identify gaps between available and desired information, and (2) develop an understandable and transportable framework that will enable the PPP-LCC to prioritize their science needs, with a special emphasis on articulating climate science and communicating those needs to the NC CSC and the NCPP. Conservation and habitat management decisions in the region must be guided by both conservation objectives for species and landscapes and by social and economic objectives. However, climate prediction and response models predominately focus on physical and ecologic changes. We used a decision analysis process to develop an integrated conceptual model of the interactions between climate change, land use change, and conservation and adaptation in the Plains and Prairie Potholes region of the PPP-LCC. We ultimately tackled a small slice of land use change, focusing on invasive species issues within the region.
Max Post van der Burg