Natural resource mitigation, adaptation and research needs related to climate change in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert

Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5103
By: , and 



This report synthesizes the knowledge, opinions, and concerns of many Federal and State land managers, scientists, stakeholders, and partners from a workshop, held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, on April 20-22, 2010. Land managers, research scientists, and resource specialists identified common concerns regarding the potential effects of climate change on public lands and natural resources in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert and developed recommendations for mitigation, adaptation, and research needs. Water and, conversely, the effects of drought emerged as a common theme in all breakout sessions on terrestrial and aquatic species at risk, managing across boundaries, monitoring, and ecosystem services. Climate change models for the southwestern deserts predict general warming and drying with increasing precipitation variability year to year. Scientists noted that under these changing conditions the past may no longer be a guide to the future in which managers envision increasing conflicts between human water uses and sustaining ecosystems. Increasing environmental stress also is expected as a consequence of shifting ecosystem boundaries and species distributions, expansion of non-native species, and decoupling of biotic mutualisms, leading to increasingly unstable biologic communities. Managers uniformly expressed a desire to work across management and agency boundaries at a landscape scale but conceded that conflicting agency missions and budgetary constraints often impede collaboration. More and better science is needed to cope with the effects of climate change but, perhaps even more important is the application of science to management issues using the methods of adaptive management based on long-term monitoring to assess the merits of management actions. Access to data is essential for science-based land management. Basic inventories, spatial databases, baseline condition assessments, data quality assurance, and data sharing were identified as top information priorities by all participants at this workshop. Optimizing the utility of ecosystem monitoring data will require standardizing monitoring protocols across agencies. Better communication among researchers and managers and cooperation through partnerships to manage resources across boundaries were emphasized as necessary for adapting to changing climatic conditions. However, even these strategies may be insufficient unless policy mandates, agency missions, and funding are coordinated at a high level.
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Natural resource mitigation, adaptation and research needs related to climate change in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2011-5103
DOI 10.3133/sir20115103
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Southwest Climate Science Center
Description iv, 32 p.; Glossary
First page i
Last page 34
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details