November is Manatee Awareness Month; but no matter what time of year it is, manatees deserve to be celebrated. These amazing creatures fulfill a unique niche by serving as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because of their reliance on the health of their habitat, manatees often act as a signal of their environment’s well-being. NOAA photo by Michael Buchanan.
Spring is coming early in 3/4 of national parks, according to a new study. Awesome? Not so much. As flowers bloom earlier every year, it’s disrupting the link between the wildflowers and the arrival of birds, bees, and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers. In Shenandoah, an earlier spring is giving invasive plants a head start, and they’re displacing native wildflowers, leading to costly management issues.
Before the 1960s almost everything about living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) person was illegal. New York City laws against homosexual activities were particularly harsh. The Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969 is a milestone in the quest for LGBT civil rights and provided momentum for a movement.
Vine Creek Ranch at Death Valley National Park. Steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced funding of more than $10 million awarded by Interior's regional Climate Science Centers to universities or other partners for research to guide managers of parks, refuges and other resources in planning how to help species and ecosystems adapt to climate change.
The 69 studies at eight climate science centers focus on how climate change will affect natural resources. For example, various projects identify how sea-level rise will affect coastal resources, how climate will affect vegetation, how these changes will affect valued species such as sage grouse, and how changes in water availability will affect both people and ecosystems—and ecosystem services such as fisheries. Several studies address the potential effects on resources of concern to Native Americans, some by using traditional ecological knowledge to advance adaptation planning.
Each of the Department of the Interior's eight Climate Science Centers worked with the universities supporting the CSCs, states, tribes, federal agencies, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and other regional partners to identify the highest priority management challenges in need of scientific input, and to solicit and select research projects.
"Climate Science Centers are off and running to meet the needs of those who must safeguard our precious natural resources as the climate changes. These projects demonstrate the benefits of our national climate science strategy, which is focused on the needs of managers in each region," said Secretary Salazar.
The studies will be undertaken by teams of scientists from the universities that comprise each CSC, from USGS science centers, and from other partners such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USDA Forest Service, Indian tribes, and the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives in each region.
"These projects demonstrate a powerful and growing partnership between USGS scientists and their academic and agency science colleagues," said Secretary Salazar. "By tapping this deep well of expertise, and linking it with USGS expertise, CSCs help direct the right science capacity to where it can do the most, and avoid duplication and waste."
DOI Climate Science Centers serve as the regional hubs of the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, located at the headquarters of Interior's U.S. Geological Survey. CSCs and LCCs have been created under Interior's national climate science strategy. USGS is taking the lead on establishing the CSCs and providing initial staffing. Together, Interior's CSCs and LCCs will assess the impacts of climate change and other landscape-scale stressors that typically extend beyond the borders of any single national wildlife refuge, national park or Bureau of Land Management unit and will identify strategies to ensure that resources across landscapes are resilient.