Project ID

XP2016-07A

Abstract

We proposed to engage landowners and land managers (i.e., biologists and agency personnel who manage state, federal, and non-profit lands) to protect grassland and biodiversity through development of climate change adaptation strategies in the Grand River Grasslands of southern Iowa and northern Missouri, with a focus on examining how grasslands are managed. Our plan was to build on our previous research to: 1) identify priorities for the conservation of grassland ecosystems, 2) identify the vulnerability of a suite of plant species to climate change, 3) identify options that land managers can take in the present to prepare for future climate conditions, and 4) discuss and evaluate these options with land owners and land managers to determine which options are most socially and economically feasible to implement.

Key Question

Will climate change adaptation strategies help protect grassland and biodiversity in the Grand River Grasslands of southern Iowa and northern Missouri?

Findings

Our climate and species projection models illustrated that northward shifts are common to virtually all of the plant species we examined but that inter-species and inter-functional group variation exists in the amount and area of changing suitability. As such, we expect the plant community of the Grand River Grasslands to show changes over the next several decades. Overall, our results are not promising in terms of expecting farmers to respond to climate change in a proactive way using conservation programs. Even if conservation planting seed mixes are modified to include plant species that are expected to do well under future conditions, the reticence of farmers to become involved in such programs or to change their land use practices as a result of changing environmental conditions will be a barrier. Our findings indicate that that there could be benefits if landowners and land managers use this information to prepare for future climate changes. However, our economic and social science analyses indicate that land use decision makers do not see a need to respond, and that even the use of economic incentives may not bring desired responses.

Principal Investigator(s)

Diane Mebhinski

Co-Investigator(s)

Hongli Feng; Jim Miller; Nick Lyon

Year of Grant Completion

2018

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