Topic outline

  • Welcome to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment .

    Overview

    The Appalachian region is rich in biodiversity that is highly threatened by energy production, development, and a host of other factors. Large-scale impacts such as climate change will play out within this context, affecting habitats and species in different ways. Understanding the vulnerability of various species and habitats within the Appalachian LCC to such changes is of critical importance. Identifying the steps needed to acquire vulnerability information and then using this information to inform adaptation and mitigation strategies is a major research priority of the LCC.

    Course Registration

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    Certificate of Completion

    After completing the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. Simply click the course name next to the certificate icon. You must be logged in to access the certificate.

    Course Description

    This course will explain the science behind the development of the information resources, demonstrate to users how to access the data, provide examples of how this information can be used to make management decisions, and guide users through an interactive exercise using the data in a case study activity.

    This course consists of an introduction and six additional modules.

    Participants should complete the modules in sequential order. If, after reviewing the prerequisites for a module, a participant feels that they already have an understanding of the information, they can proceed to the next module. For example, if you already are familiar with the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment project but have not yet explored the information resources, you can skip to Module 2.

    In Modules 2-4, the focus is to provide an understanding of how to use the information resources and to answer questions related to conservation management. Participants will not perform additional analysis; rather they will focus on the thought process behind the analysis.

    Course Objectives

    Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

    • Develop an understanding of the potential impacts of climate change on select species within the Appalachian geography.
    • Utilize information resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal.
    • Apply information from a case study to develop a strategy for utilizing the information resources as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources with the organization’s area of responsibility.
    • Facilitate creative thinking to enhance the utilization of the information resources to answer questions for the strategic delivery of conservation activities.

    Course Requirements

    Participants will complete readings, view instructional videos, complete a case study exercise and review quiz at the end of the course, and provide feedback regarding the course.

    Technical Requirements

    You will need to use Adobe Reader to view course materials and the ability to stream videos with sound. To complete the Technical Level Case Study exercise you will need to use ArcGIS.

  • Course Prerequisites

    Decorative icon for Course Prerequisites

    There are no prerequisites to take this course. However, within the course, participants should complete the modules in order as they build upon information in the previous modules.

    Prerequisites are covered at the beginning of each module.

  • Module 1: What is a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment?

  • Module 2: The Science behind the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Research Project

    Prerequisite

    Before completing this module, you should review the information in the Course Introduction module. No experience with the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment research project is necessary.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is to provide an explanation of the work behind assessing and inventorying climate vulnerability of species and habitats throughout the Appalachians.

    Overview

    Future climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies will be dependent on the best available projections of how the regional climate will change and the impacts those changes will have on the region’s natural and cultural resources. Understanding the vulnerability of various species and habitats to climate change within the Appalachian LCC is of critical importance for making effective conservation decisions.

    The AppLCC funded a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment research project that addresses several factors: 1) how the Cooperative should acquire information about the climate vulnerability of Appalachian species and habitats to develop vulnerability assessments for a suite of key species and habitats to share with partners; 2) compilation of known vulnerability assessments of species and habitats, and 3) new climate change vulnerability assessments of selected species and habitats in the AppLCC region.

    In 2012, the Appalachian LCC tasked NatureServe with a two-phase project that to explore understanding of climate change in the Appalachian landscape.

    The first phase focused on assembling a panel of experts to provide guidance on a) selecting approaches to conduct vulnerability assessments; b) identifying appropriate climate data to use in the assessments, and c) prioritizing species and habitats to assess for vulnerability to climate change.

    The panel assessed the climate change literature to assist NatureServe in discerning the most appropriate methodologies for use in the region, and provided a set of recommendations to guide the Appalachian LCC and its partners in conducting additional vulnerability assessments.

    In order to prioritize species and habitats to assess in the second phase, we compiled known existing vulnerability assessments of approximately 650 species and 30 habitats completed in the AppLCC region. We divided the large land mass making up the LCC into three subregions for analysis: the Central Appalachian subregion (northern portion of the LCC from New York to northern Virginia and West Virginia), the Cumberland and Southern Appalachian subregion (the southern portion of the LCC from southern Virginia to Georgia) and the western "triangle" of the LCC, the Interior Low Plateau, ranging from Ohio west to Illinois and south to Alabama.

    We found that the least amount of existing information occurs in the Interior Low Plateau, an area that receives the highest exposure to projected climate change. We then identified data gaps and developed a list of additional species and habitats to be assessed anew.The final list was finalized in partnership with the AppLCC staff, and analyses were conducted on 41 species and three habitats.

    Background and source materials can be found on the AppLCC web portal under Vulnerability Assessment Source Materials.


  • Module 3: How to Access Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Information

    Prerequisite

    You should complete Modules 1 and 2 of this course before proceeding to Module 3. You should be familiar with the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment research project.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is to familiarize you with the data and resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal and the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) to assist each participant in utilizing the tool for a set of user-defined parameters.

    Upon completion of this module, you should be familiar with the data and resources available on the Appalachian LCC portal and the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI). You should also have a firm understanding of how and why the study was conducted and its possible applications in conservation planning.

    Overview

    Motivated by the need to rapidly assess the vulnerability of species to climate change, NatureServe developed a Climate Change Vulnerability Index. The Index uses a scoring system that integrates a species’ predicted exposure to climate change within an area and three sets of factors associated with climate change sensitivity, each supported by published studies: 1) indirect exposure to climate change, 2) species-specific sensitivity and adaptive capacity factors and 3) documented response to climate change.

    Our primary goal for the Index is to provide valuable input for key planning documents, such as revisions of state wildlife action plans, to allow consideration of climate change impacts together with other stressors. We also hope this tool will help land managers develop and prioritize strategies for climate change adaptation that lead to actions that increase the resilience of species to climate change.


  • Module 4: Case Study Examples

    Prerequisite

    You should complete Modules 1, 2 and 3 before proceeding to Module 4. You should be familiar with the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment research project background information and the Climate Change Vulnerability Index.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is to provide several case study examples for utilizing the Climate Change Vulnerability Index tool as part of a decision management process to answer questions regarding priority resources within the organization’s area of responsibility.

    Overview

    Within this module, you will watch a video presentation which provides several case study examples of how Climate Change Vulnerability Index data can be used to aid in decisions related to conservation management. The case study scenarios provided are examples of how output from Climate Change Vulnerability Index can be used and integrated with other data sources to refine priorities and strategically plan for conservation management. Participants should be able to use these examples to facilitate creative thinking in applying the Climate Change Vulnerability Index output to their own data in different geographic areas.

    After watching the video, you should review the brief summary information.

  • Module 5: Case Study Activity

    Prerequisite

    You should complete Modules 1, 2, 3 and 4 before proceeding to Module 5. You should be familiar with the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment background information and the Climate Change Vulnerability Index.

    Objective

    The objective of this module is familiarize you with the Climate Change Vulnerability Index and utilization of the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment data by completing a case study example.

    Overview

    Now that you have gone through the prior modules and watched the instructional videos, we are going to walk through a hands-on activity using several resources from this project. In this activity we will access these resources and explore ways to use these resources in conservation planning.

    There are two levels for this activity.

    The first level is called the Manager Level. This level will focus on using the information contained within the Climate Change Vulnerability Indexes. No experience with GIS software is needed to complete this level. The second level, Technical Level, will cover the same material as the Manger Level, but it will also provide a section for downloading the data and using the data within the ArcGIS platform. If you choose the Technical Level, you should have some experience using ArcGIS software.

    To begin the activity, select the appropriate case study document.


  • Assessment Quiz

    This quiz is intended to assess your comprehension of the material covered in Modules 1 – 5 of this course.

    You will need a score of 70% to pass.

    There are a total of four questions. Once you have answered all of the questions, you will be able to review your answers before submitting them. After you submit your answers, your results will be displayed.

    You may take the test as many times as necessary to receive the minimum score required. 

  • Participant Feedback

    Thank you for participating in this online course. It is very important to us that the online courses we provide are beneficial to course participants. A link is provided below to a brief course assessment survey. We value your feedback and will use your responses to improve on future online offerings of this course.

  • Certificate of Completion

    Course certificate imageOnce you have completed the activities in this course, you can download the optional Certificate of Completion. The Certificate will display the name you used to create your account.

    You must be logged in to access the certificate.