Byers ccvi in wv nctc 2013

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Elizabeth Byers, Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of At-risk Species in West Virginia

Elizabeth Byers, Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of At-risk Species in West Virginia

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  • Goals of the AssessmentAssess relative vulnerabilityUnderstand causative factorsIdentify vulnerable species assemblagesIdentify geographic areas with concentrations of vulnerable speciesIdentify management actionsState Wildlife Action PlanConservation partnerships
  • Species: Cheat Mountain Salamander (Plethodonnettingi) G2G3 S2 LT EXTREMELY VULNERABLE Mountaintop species Poor dispersal ability, isolated remnant populations Narrow temp / precip tolerances Dependence on red spruce to generate habitat
  • Key Risk Factors Habitat Foundation Plants Majority of foundation species are presumed stable, but new modeling may change these results High elevation species and wetland species are more vulnerable Most threatened habitats: red spruce ecosystem, pin oak swamps, northern hardwood forests
  • Top statewide risk factors: natural barriers
  • Statewide risk factor: physiological thermal niche, hydrological niche
  • Climate Resilience Opportunity Area Mountainous with sw-ne orientation Less fragmented, more forest High starting biodiversity
  • Adaptation Strategy: forge strong partnerships, important everywhere, but especially in WV
  • Adaptation strategy: build connectivity and ecosystem integrity
  • In WV Spruce forests Support high number “species of concern” State, Federal and PIF including 158 plants (75% are S1-S2) and 137 wildlife species (40% S1-S2). WVNFS, CMS, Blackburnian warbler, snowshoe hare, native brook trout


  • 1. Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of At-risk Species in West Virginia Elizabeth Byers Natural Heritage Ecologist WV Division of Natural Resources
  • 2. Results: Species & Risk Factors
  • 3. Geography of Vulnerability: Elevation & Latitude
  • 4. Rainfall & Hydrology Ohio River Wetlands and Floodplain Meadow River Wetlands Marl Wetlands Black Ponds Alluvial Wetlands and Floodplains (statewide)
  • 5. Landscape Integrity
  • 6. NE species richness 2006
  • 7. Original Extent Modified Climate? Current
  • 8. Restoration Planting Community Prediction Tool: West Virginia © 2013 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) and the Carolina Vegetation Survey (CVS) Part of research efforts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Programming by Michael T. Lee. Plot data from the WVDNR Natural Heritage Database. Adaptation of the software tool to West Virginia was made possible by support from The Nature Conservancy and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Enter site data and find similar community targets
  • 9. Questions? For more information, our results are on-line at