The Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NWB LCC) recently announced funding projects to advance region-wide understanding and implementation of landscape-scale science and conservation.
Climate Change and Fire Return Intervals
In recent years, firefighters, scientists, and community members have noticed that burned lands that typically would resist ignition are burning again. Researchers seek to learn how factors like weather, terrain, tree age, and moisture influence whether an area burns again when wildfires sweep through or resist burning. The team will use geospatial data detailing past fires to explore the ecological and management challenges of a warming north.
The work is a collaboration between the United States Geological Survey, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Fire Service, Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, and NWB LCC.
Connecting Conservation Lands in Alaska and Canada
Alaska and Canada’s hundreds of millions of acres of public protected lands are large and currently well-connected, but will face pressures. Providing for landscape connectivity is a core climate adaptation strategy. But shifting treelines, species compositions, and climates make planning for future corridors difficult.
Dr. Dawn Magness from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge uses a method that relies on enduring feature of the landscape that climate change will not change. The next stage of work will explore Canadian protected lands and identify additional linkages that could connect more lands across the 330-million acre NWB LCC area.
The project is a collaboration between the NWB LCC and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Downscaled Climate Data in the Northwest Territories
One of the leading models for helping to understanding temperature and precipitation –PRISM—Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model—is used in Alaska and parts of Canada as input data in projections that seek to describe future scenarios of change.
Currently no PRISM data are available for Northwest Territories. Researchers will develop fine scale PRISM data – 800 meter grids— for the territory. With common data across the region, scientists can better compare scenario planning across the enormous boreal forest.
The project is a collaboration among the NWB LCC, the Northwest Territories government, Agriculture Canada and Oregon State University.
Snowshoe hare populations fluctuate over a period of several years and are thought to send the cats on migration routes in what’s known as the “travelling wave” theory. In a changing boreal region, scientists want to know where and how lynx move across the landscape to better understand how the larger system is connected.
Researchers will build on on-going research in national wildlife refuges by placing satellite tracking collars on cats to better understand the dynamics across the region. Isotypes in the cats’ teeth as well as genetic markers give more clues about lynx movement. This project involves collaboration with local trappers.
The project is a collaboration among the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Yukon Environment, Yukon and Alaska trappers, US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service and NWB LCC.
Yukon River Coho Salmon Telemetry
After several poor runs of Chinook salmon on the Yukon River, families are relying more on Coho Salmon to fill their freezers and smokehouses. The 2000-mile long Yukon River supports a Coho run, but scientists want to know more about the journey from the Pacific Ocean upstream to their spawning grounds.
Biologists will outfit Coho salmon with tiny radio tags and set up stations in the upper Yukon at places like Circle, Porcupine River, and Black River to track the fish as they swim up to their natal spawning grounds.
The project is a collaboration among the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and the NWB LCC.
Yukon North Slope Wildlife Management Plan
The Yukon North Slope is an arctic “hot spot” of climate change-induced effects with profound significance for the Inuvialuit and the larger region. In 1984, the Inuvialuit entered into a land claim agreement – the Inuvialuit Final Agreement (IFA) – with the governments of Canada, Yukon and Northwest Territories. A co-management body formed to make a plan, which was developed in 2003 but never ratified and is now considered out-of-date. Round River Conservation Studies is assisting WMAC(NS) in the collection, development and synthesis of spatial data, models and analyses of cultural and ecological values of the YNS.
The project is a collaboration among the NWB LCC, Round River Conservation Studies, and the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative.
Conservation Goals and Performance
The more than thirty partners in the NWB LCC across Northwest Canada and Alaska have different interests, needs, and mandates that drive their work. Collaborative conservation among the many groups involves finding alignment between the conservation social network and the target ecological system. This goal setting will be a centerpiece of NWB LCC’s larger landscape conservation design process.