As the Endangered Species Act nears its 40th birthday at the end of December, conservation biologists are coming to terms with a danger not foreseen in the early 1970s: global climate change.
Federal fisheries scientists have published a special section in this month’s issue of Conservation Biology that outlines some considerations for coming decades. A University of Washington climate scientist helped biologists determine the long-term forecast for aquatic animals.
“When you look at projections for future climate change, there’s a big range of possible futures. And decision makers or biologists assessing impacts on a particular species want to know what’s the most likely future – they don’t want to use this huge range of uncertainty,” said Amy Snover, director of the UW-based Climate Impacts Group.
Eight papers in the special section, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, include case studies for species ranging from chinook salmon to steelhead to 82 different types of coral.
Snover is lead author of a paper on choosing and using climate-change scenarios to inform policy for endangered marine species.
“We tried to distill what climate scientists know in a way that would be useful for conservation biologists,” Snover said.