Climate Change, Uncertainty and Natural Resource Management

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 3:30pm
Eastern Standard Time
James D. Nichols
USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Uncertainty impedes management, and climate change represents an important recent source of uncertainty. Adaptive resource management (ARM) was developed as a means of making good decisions in the face of uncertainty and provides a logical approach to management in the face of climate change. I begin by reviewing the process of ARM, emphasizing its approach to dealing with uncertainty. I then specify four major sources of uncertainty in decision-making, consider how these are exacerbated by climate change, and suggest approaches for dealing with this increased uncertainty. The ARM approach used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish annual harvest regulations for various waterfowl populations of North American is used to exemplify the adaptation of existing decision processes to climate change. Specifically, each element of the ARM process is examined, and climate-related modifications are proposed. Finally, a set of institutional and technical challenges posed by climate change is identified, and approaches for dealing with them are proposed. 

James D. Nichols received degrees from Wake Forest U., Louisiana State U. and Michigan State U., and then accepted a research scientist position with the USGS at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. He spent his entire professional career at Patuxent, where he still works as an emeritus scientist. His research has been on the population ecology and management of animal populations, with foci on estimation methods and decision-making.