Informing implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee’s (GYCC) Whitebark Pine (WBP) Strategy based on climate sciences, ecological forecasting, and valuation of WBP-related ecosystem services
Andrew J. Hansen
The goal of this project is to inform implementation of the Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee (GYCC) Whitebark Pine (WBP) subcommittee’s “WBP Strategy” based on the climate science and ecological forecasting. Objectives are: 1. Forecast ecosystem processes and WBP habitat suitability across the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) under alternative IPCC future scenarios; 2. Improve understanding of possible response to future climate by analyzing WBP/climate relationships in past millennia; 3. Develop WBP management alternatives; 4. Evaluate the alternatives under IPCC future scenarios in terms of WBP goals, ecosystem services, and costs of implementation; and 5. Draw recommendations for implementation of the GYCC WBP strategy that consider uncertainty. WBP is a keystone and candidate endangered species that has undergone high levels of mortality related to climatic warming. The GYCC WBP Subcommittee has developed over the past decade a strategy for WBP in the GYA, but without adequate information on climate change. The subcommittee is participating in this project because of their high interest in using climate science to enhance implementation of the strategy. Ecosystem processes and WBP habitat suitability are being forecast under downscaled future scenarios to 2100 with existing funding. Paleo data from GYA will be used to quantify WBP/climate relationships over the past 15,000 years and growth rates during extreme climate events over the past 800 years. Four WBP management alternatives will be developed in a workshop at the NCCSC RAM, consistent with the GYCC WBP Strategy. These alternatives will be evaluated relative to WBP status (viability and ecosystem function), costs of implementation, and public valuation of change in ecosystem services using conjoint analysis and public surveys. Recommendations will be derived in a scenario planning workshop based on both the results and uncertainty in the results. These recommendations can thus be immediately acted upon by the GYA management community and the approach and methods will be readily applicable to the several other tree species that are undergoing die-offs under changing climate.