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An Ecohydrological Assessment of
Potential Impacts of Climate Change
on the Herpetofauna in the
Connecticut River Watershed
Cayla Paulding, MS
Timothy Randhir, PhD
Dept. of Environmental Conservation
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Climate Change in Massachusetts
MA EOEEA. 2011. Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Fourth National Climate Assessment vol II https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/
“Terrestrial, freshwater, and marine organisms are responding to climate
change by altering individual characteristics, the timing of biological events,
and their geographic ranges. Local and global extinctions may occur when
climate change outpaces the capacity of species to adapt.”
Specific impacts on herpetofauna
• Less adaptable than mammals and birds
• Ectothermic – heat from outside sources
• The timing of amphibian breeding is largely driven by environmental cues
such as temperature and moisture – early breeding
• Dependence on moisture
• Hydroperiod changes
• Phenological changes
Early Breeding of Spring Peeper, American
Bullfrog, Wood Frog in Ithaca, NY
(Gibbs and Breisch 2001)
Photos: John White and William Flaxington
Herpetofauna
• Understudied
• Sensitive to climate change
• Already declining populations
• They contribute to ecosystem services
https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.files.wordpress.com
/2012/08/8-7-12-basking-painted-turtles-img_1828.jpg
General Objective
To understand the current and future hydrologic processes influencing
herpetofaunal habitat in the Connecticut River Watershed for adaptation
strategies.
Specific Objectives
1. To develop a species richness map of herpetofauna of the watershed;
2. To model current/historic state of the watershed using HAWQs simulation
model;
3. To evaluate potential changes in watershed hydrologic processes under
future climatic scenarios;
4. To identify adaptation strategies to protect herpetofaunal habitat
Hypotheses
1. Species richness is influenced by spatial changes in landscape factors.
2. Hydrologic processes vary spatially and temporally.
3. Climate change influences watershed hydrologic processes, thereby
changing habitat conditions.
4. Adaptation strategies can mitigate habitat impacts
• Largest watershed in New England
(29,200 Km2)
• 615 km from headwaters to outlet
• 38 main tributaries
• 77% forested, 9% agricultural, 7%
wetlands and water, and 7%
developed
Study Area: Connecticut River Watershed
Conservationalliance.com Mike Tessier
Conceptual Model
Vertebrate class Species Scientific name
Turtles Wood turtle Glyptemys insculpta
Spotted turtle Clemmys guttata
Blanding’s turtle Emydoidea blandingii
Snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina
Spiny softshell Apalone spinifera
Northern map turtle Graptemys geographica
Frogs/toads Wood frog Rana sylvatica
Northern leopard frog Lithobates pipiens
Salamanders Four-toed salamander Hemidactylium scutatum
Mudpuppy Necturus maculosus
Snakes Red-bellied snake
Storeria
occipitomaculata
Timber rattlesnake Crotalus horridus
Milk snake Lampropeltis triangulum
Lizard Common five-lined skink Plestiodon fasciatus
Habitat Potential
Wood Turtle
Maine.gov
Spotted Turtle
Biologicaldiversity.or
g
Blandings Turtle
Dailyherald.com
Snapping
Turtle
Sciencing.com
Spiny softshell
Amazingocean.co
m
Northern Map
Paherps.com
Wood Frog
Herpsofnc.org
Northern
Leopard
Paherps.com
4 toed
salamander
Herpsofnc.org
Mudpuppy
herps ofnc.org
Red-bellied snake
Paherps.com
Timber
rattlesnake
herpsorfnc.org
Milksnake
Herpsofnc.org
Common 5 lined
skink
Paherps.com
Watershed
Simulation
Modelling
SWAT
Data Sources
1. Baseline (1/1/1961- 12/31/2000)
NCDC NWS/NOAA
2. Climate change RCP 4.5 (/1/2006-
12/31/2099)
GISS-E2-R (CMIP5)
3. Climate change RCP 8.5 (/1/2006-
12/31/2099)
GISS-E2-R (CMIP5)
Fourth National Climate Assessment vol II https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/
Climate Scenarios
Species Richness
• Intermediate disturbance
hypothesis
• Northern edge of range
• Increased complexity of
geomorphology near the
outlet
Spotted Salamander
Scott Wahlberg flickr.com
Evapotranspiration
Species Richness Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
Surface Runoff
Species Richness Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
Groundwater flow
Species Richness Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
Monthly Water budgets
Baseline
Climate change RCP 4.5
Climate change RCP 8.5
Streamflow
(m3/s)
Sediment
(mg/L)
Total N
(mg/L)
Total P
(mg/L)
Dissolved O2
(mg/L)
Baseline 617.0945 1277.821 0.867601 0.146017 339.710698
RCP 4.5 851.0155 1367.487 0.752201 0.115177 336.439532
RCP 8.5 861.4917 1362.927 0.745978 0.113383 331.055861
Summary of impacts
Groundwater
(mm)
ET
(mm)
Runoff
(mm)
Precipitation
(mm)
Baseline 22137.28 43579.27 15994.99 1081.58
RCP 4.5 34296.14 29548.6 15894.17 1133.26
RCP 8.5 35000.7 30371.37 15717.42 1149.03
Hydrologic
changes
Changes to HF habitat
↑ precipitation ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, may affect
upland habitat as well as wetlands
↑ groundwater ↑ flooding esp. at discharge areas
and wetlands, ↑ erosion
↑ streamflow ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, ↑ river
scour, impact on instream
vegetation and habitat
↓ snowpack ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, negative
impact on instream vegetation and
habitat
∆ seasonality ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, may impact
species behavior (migrations,
reproduction, hibernation)
↑ sediment ↓ water quality
↓ dissolved
oxygen
↓ water quality, less vegetation
and instream aquatic organisms,
will degrade habitat
Boldpath.com
Mitigation Options
 Watershed-scale conservation
o Identify vulnerable reaches
o Restore floodplains
o Protect headwaters
o Enhancing continuity of habitat
 “soft” bioengineering techniques
 Regulation changes
o Permitting through legislation or by
laws
o Standardizing monitoring
o Update FEMA maps
 Improved communication & outreach
Writersvoice.net
Adaptation strategies
 Manipulation of hydroperiod or moisture regimes
 solar-powered water pumps to retain water levels of ponds
 Retain surface moisture – mulching or augmentation
 Incorporation of hill-shaded refugia in protected habitat areas
 designation of linkage areas for connectivity among habitats
 logs as dispersal conduits
 Road crossing structures
 vulnerable site protection policies
 Reintroduction, Relocation, Translocation, and Headstarting (RRTH) of
rare species
1.Herpetofauna species richness is influenced by
spatial changes in landscape factors.
2.Herpetofauna species richness is higher under
levels of intermediate disturbance.
3.Watershed hydrologic processes vary spatially and
temporally.
4.Climate change influences watershed hydrologic
processes, thereby changing habitat conditions for
herpetofauna.
5.Adaptation strategies need to focus on targeted
practices to mitigate impacts on ecohydrologic
processes affecting herpetofaunal habitat
Conclusions
An Ecohydrological Assessment of
Potential Impacts of Climate Change
on Herpetofauna in the Connecticut
River Watershed
Contact:
Randhir@umass.edu
(413)5453969
https://eco.umass.edu/people/faculty/randhir-timothy-o/

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July 29-1030-Timothy Randhir

  • 1. An Ecohydrological Assessment of Potential Impacts of Climate Change on the Herpetofauna in the Connecticut River Watershed Cayla Paulding, MS Timothy Randhir, PhD Dept. of Environmental Conservation University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • 2. Climate Change in Massachusetts MA EOEEA. 2011. Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • 3. Fourth National Climate Assessment vol II https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ “Terrestrial, freshwater, and marine organisms are responding to climate change by altering individual characteristics, the timing of biological events, and their geographic ranges. Local and global extinctions may occur when climate change outpaces the capacity of species to adapt.” Specific impacts on herpetofauna • Less adaptable than mammals and birds • Ectothermic – heat from outside sources • The timing of amphibian breeding is largely driven by environmental cues such as temperature and moisture – early breeding • Dependence on moisture • Hydroperiod changes • Phenological changes Early Breeding of Spring Peeper, American Bullfrog, Wood Frog in Ithaca, NY (Gibbs and Breisch 2001) Photos: John White and William Flaxington
  • 4. Herpetofauna • Understudied • Sensitive to climate change • Already declining populations • They contribute to ecosystem services https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.files.wordpress.com /2012/08/8-7-12-basking-painted-turtles-img_1828.jpg
  • 5. General Objective To understand the current and future hydrologic processes influencing herpetofaunal habitat in the Connecticut River Watershed for adaptation strategies. Specific Objectives 1. To develop a species richness map of herpetofauna of the watershed; 2. To model current/historic state of the watershed using HAWQs simulation model; 3. To evaluate potential changes in watershed hydrologic processes under future climatic scenarios; 4. To identify adaptation strategies to protect herpetofaunal habitat Hypotheses 1. Species richness is influenced by spatial changes in landscape factors. 2. Hydrologic processes vary spatially and temporally. 3. Climate change influences watershed hydrologic processes, thereby changing habitat conditions. 4. Adaptation strategies can mitigate habitat impacts
  • 6. • Largest watershed in New England (29,200 Km2) • 615 km from headwaters to outlet • 38 main tributaries • 77% forested, 9% agricultural, 7% wetlands and water, and 7% developed Study Area: Connecticut River Watershed Conservationalliance.com Mike Tessier
  • 8. Vertebrate class Species Scientific name Turtles Wood turtle Glyptemys insculpta Spotted turtle Clemmys guttata Blanding’s turtle Emydoidea blandingii Snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina Spiny softshell Apalone spinifera Northern map turtle Graptemys geographica Frogs/toads Wood frog Rana sylvatica Northern leopard frog Lithobates pipiens Salamanders Four-toed salamander Hemidactylium scutatum Mudpuppy Necturus maculosus Snakes Red-bellied snake Storeria occipitomaculata Timber rattlesnake Crotalus horridus Milk snake Lampropeltis triangulum Lizard Common five-lined skink Plestiodon fasciatus Habitat Potential Wood Turtle Maine.gov Spotted Turtle Biologicaldiversity.or g Blandings Turtle Dailyherald.com Snapping Turtle Sciencing.com Spiny softshell Amazingocean.co m Northern Map Paherps.com Wood Frog Herpsofnc.org Northern Leopard Paherps.com 4 toed salamander Herpsofnc.org Mudpuppy herps ofnc.org Red-bellied snake Paherps.com Timber rattlesnake herpsorfnc.org Milksnake Herpsofnc.org Common 5 lined skink Paherps.com
  • 11. 1. Baseline (1/1/1961- 12/31/2000) NCDC NWS/NOAA 2. Climate change RCP 4.5 (/1/2006- 12/31/2099) GISS-E2-R (CMIP5) 3. Climate change RCP 8.5 (/1/2006- 12/31/2099) GISS-E2-R (CMIP5) Fourth National Climate Assessment vol II https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ Climate Scenarios
  • 12.
  • 13. Species Richness • Intermediate disturbance hypothesis • Northern edge of range • Increased complexity of geomorphology near the outlet Spotted Salamander Scott Wahlberg flickr.com
  • 14. Evapotranspiration Species Richness Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
  • 15. Surface Runoff Species Richness Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
  • 16. Groundwater flow Species Richness Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
  • 17. Monthly Water budgets Baseline Climate change RCP 4.5 Climate change RCP 8.5
  • 18. Streamflow (m3/s) Sediment (mg/L) Total N (mg/L) Total P (mg/L) Dissolved O2 (mg/L) Baseline 617.0945 1277.821 0.867601 0.146017 339.710698 RCP 4.5 851.0155 1367.487 0.752201 0.115177 336.439532 RCP 8.5 861.4917 1362.927 0.745978 0.113383 331.055861 Summary of impacts Groundwater (mm) ET (mm) Runoff (mm) Precipitation (mm) Baseline 22137.28 43579.27 15994.99 1081.58 RCP 4.5 34296.14 29548.6 15894.17 1133.26 RCP 8.5 35000.7 30371.37 15717.42 1149.03
  • 19. Hydrologic changes Changes to HF habitat ↑ precipitation ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, may affect upland habitat as well as wetlands ↑ groundwater ↑ flooding esp. at discharge areas and wetlands, ↑ erosion ↑ streamflow ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, ↑ river scour, impact on instream vegetation and habitat ↓ snowpack ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, negative impact on instream vegetation and habitat ∆ seasonality ↑ flooding, ↑ erosion, may impact species behavior (migrations, reproduction, hibernation) ↑ sediment ↓ water quality ↓ dissolved oxygen ↓ water quality, less vegetation and instream aquatic organisms, will degrade habitat Boldpath.com
  • 20. Mitigation Options  Watershed-scale conservation o Identify vulnerable reaches o Restore floodplains o Protect headwaters o Enhancing continuity of habitat  “soft” bioengineering techniques  Regulation changes o Permitting through legislation or by laws o Standardizing monitoring o Update FEMA maps  Improved communication & outreach Writersvoice.net
  • 21. Adaptation strategies  Manipulation of hydroperiod or moisture regimes  solar-powered water pumps to retain water levels of ponds  Retain surface moisture – mulching or augmentation  Incorporation of hill-shaded refugia in protected habitat areas  designation of linkage areas for connectivity among habitats  logs as dispersal conduits  Road crossing structures  vulnerable site protection policies  Reintroduction, Relocation, Translocation, and Headstarting (RRTH) of rare species
  • 22. 1.Herpetofauna species richness is influenced by spatial changes in landscape factors. 2.Herpetofauna species richness is higher under levels of intermediate disturbance. 3.Watershed hydrologic processes vary spatially and temporally. 4.Climate change influences watershed hydrologic processes, thereby changing habitat conditions for herpetofauna. 5.Adaptation strategies need to focus on targeted practices to mitigate impacts on ecohydrologic processes affecting herpetofaunal habitat Conclusions
  • 23. An Ecohydrological Assessment of Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Herpetofauna in the Connecticut River Watershed Contact: Randhir@umass.edu (413)5453969 https://eco.umass.edu/people/faculty/randhir-timothy-o/

Editor's Notes

  1. The subwatersheds that changed the most are: The Branch, Cold River, Lower Asheulot, Middle Asheulot, and Upper Asheulot
  2. Halls stream subwatershed
  3. Subwatersheds with the most changes: Vernon dam, the branch, headwaters westfield river, Williams river, oliverian brook, cold river, middle Deerfield river, upper millers river, north river, and middle asheulot river