Climate change challenges many of the basic assumptions routinely used by conservation planners and managers, including the identification and prioritization of areas for conservation based on current environmental conditions and the assumption those conditions could be controlled by management actions. Climate change will likely alter important ecosystem drivers (temperature, precipitation, and sea-level rise) and make it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain current environmental conditions into the future. Additionally, the potential for future conservation of non-conservation lands may be affected by climate change, which further complicates resource planning. Potential changes to ecosystem drivers, as a result of climate change, highlight the need to develop and adapt effective conservation strategies to cope with the effects of climate and landscape change. The U.S. Congress, recognized the potential effects of climate change and authorized the creation of the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) in 2008. The directive of the NCCWSC is to produce science that supports resource-management agencies as they anticipate and adapt to the effects of climate change on fish, wildlife, and their habitats. On September 14, 2009, U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3289 (amended February 22, 2010), which expanded the mandate of the NCCWSC to address climate-change-related impacts on all DOI resources. Secretarial Order 3289 "Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change on America's Water, Land, and Other Natural and Cultural Resources," established the foundation of two partner-based conservation science entities: Climate Science Centers (CSC) and their primary partners, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC). CSCs and LCCs are the Department-wide approach for applying scientific tools to increase the understanding of climate change, and to coordinate an effective response to its impacts on tribes and the land, water, ocean, fish and wildlife, and cultural-heritage resources that DOI manages. The NCCWSC is establishing a network of eight DOI CSCs (Alaska, Southeast, Northwest, North Central, Pacific Islands, Southwest, Northeast, and South Central) that will work with a variety of partners and stakeholders to provide resource managers the tools and information they need to help them anticipate and adapt conservation planning and design for projected climate change. The Southeast CSC, a federally led research collaboration hosted by North Carolina State University, was established in 2010. The Southeast CSC brings together the expertise of federal and university scientists to address climate-change priority needs of federal, state, non-governmental, and tribal resource managers. This document is the first draft of a science and operational plan for the Southeast CSC. The document describes operational considerations, provides the context for climate-change impacts in the Southeastern United States, and establishes six major science themes the Southeast CSC will address in collaboration with partners. This document is intended to be reevaluated and modified as partner needs change.
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USGS Numbered Series
U.S. Department of the Interior Southeast Climate Science Center Science and Operational Plan