Change in agricultural land use constrains adaptation of national wildlife refuges to climate change

Environmental Conservation
By: , and 



Land-use change around protected areas limits their ability to conserve biodiversity by altering ecological processes such as natural hydrologic and disturbance regimes, facilitating species invasions, and interfering with dispersal of organisms. This paper informs USA National Wildlife Refuge System conservation planning by predicting future land-use change on lands within 25 km distance of 461 refuges in the USA using an econometric model. The model contained two differing policy scenarios, namely a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario and a ‘pro-agriculture’ scenario. Regardless of scenario, by 2051, forest cover and urban land use were predicted to increase around refuges, while the extent of range and pasture was predicted to decrease; cropland use decreased under the business-as-usual scenario, but increased under the pro-agriculture scenario. Increasing agricultural land value under the pro-agriculture scenario slowed an expected increase in forest around refuges, and doubled the rate of range and pasture loss. Intensity of land-use change on lands surrounding refuges differed by regions. Regional differences among scenarios revealed that an understanding of regional and local land-use dynamics and management options was an essential requirement to effectively manage these conserved lands. Such knowledge is particularly important given the predicted need to adapt to a changing global climate.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Change in agricultural land use constrains adaptation of national wildlife refuges to climate change
Series title Environmental Conservation
DOI 10.1017/S0376892914000174
Volume 42
Issue 1
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Environmental Conservation
First page 12
Last page 19
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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