Binational climate change vulnerability assessment of migratory birds in the Great Lakes Basins: Tools and impediments.
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AbstractClimate change is a global concern, requiring international strategies to reduce emissions, however, climate change vulnerability assessments are often local in scope with assessment areas restricted to jurisdictional boundaries. In our study we explored tools and impediments to understanding and responding to the effects of climate change on vulnerability of migratory birds from a binational perspective. We apply and assess the utility of a Climate Change Vulnerability Index on 3 focal species using distribution or niche modeling frameworks. We use the distributional forecasts to explore possible changes to jurisdictional conservation responsibilities resulting from shifting distributions for: eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna), wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), and hooded warbler (Setophaga citrina). We found the Climate Change Vulnerability Index to be a well-organized approach to integrating numerous lines of evidence concerning effects of climate change, and provided transparency to the final assessment of vulnerability. Under this framework, we identified that eastern meadowlark and wood thrush are highly vulnerable to climate change, but hooded warbler is less vulnerable. Our study revealed impediments to assessing and modeling vulnerability to climate change from a binational perspective, including gaps in data or modeling for climate exposure parameters. We recommend increased cross-border collaboration to enhance the availability and resources needed to improve vulnerability assessments and development of conservation strategies. We did not find evidence to suggest major shifts in jurisdictional responsibility for the 3 focal species, but results do indicate increasing responsibility for these birds in the Canadian Provinces. These Provinces should consider conservation planning to help ensure a future supply of necessary habitat for these species.