Report on the observed climate, projected climate, and projected biodiversity changes for Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin under differing levels of warming

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Necedah National Wildlife Refuge is among the top 20% of all non-marine protected areas, globally. This refuge is projected to be largely resilient to climate change with warming to 2°C. With 3°C of warming the resiliency drops with some additional adaptation effort needed. At warming levels above 3°C, adaptation efforts will need substantially greater effort, especially in many of the western parts of the refuge. Averaged over the entire area of the refuge, with 4°C warming (global, above pre-industrial), the area is projected to remain climatically suitable for 69% of its terrestrial biodiversity (fungi, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates), with none of its area remaining an overall refugia (remaining climatically suitable for >75% of the species) for biodiversity. If warming levels were held to 2°C, 100% of the area would remain a climatic refugia and the area would remain climatically suitable for 83.6% of its terrestrial biodiversity.

Between 1961-1990 and 1991-2020 the average monthly temperature has increased by 0.2° - 2.1°C. With warming levels of 2.0°C the new average monthly temperature is equivalent to that only seen 1 in 3 years in 1961-1990 for April -November (up to 1 in 20 years for July - September). Most months have seen increases in precipitation except for March, September and November which have shown declines. Models project that all months will become somewhat wetter (except for drier July and August), but the additional precipitation may not make up for the increases in temperature. The number of months classified as in severe drought declined slightly between 1961-1990 and 1986-2015. However, between warming levels of 1.5°C and 2°C (global, relative to pre-industrial) the number of months in severe drought is projected to nearly double.

Biodiversity adaptation options will largely allow for business-as-usual conservation taking into account changes in extreme events (heat and severe drought). Typical resilience measures such as removing other stressors will likely be critical, especially at warming levels above 2.0°C warming. At higher warming levels, increasingly complex adaptation measures will be required.

With the projected impacts of climate change on Wood Buffalo National Park ( there will be increasing need for additional breeding areas for the endangered Whooping Crane. Necedah National Wildlife Refuge has been one of the primary areas for reintroduction of this species. While there have been some successes, there have also been setbacks owing to black flies. Projections show that Necedah remains a refugia for birds and, from a climate point of view, is important to try and retain as a breeding area for this endangered species. While the Wallace Initiative does not have models (there are no occurrence data in GBIF) for the key black fly species impacting Whooping Cranes, fly species richness overall is projected to decline. The projected impacts on Wood Buffalo National Park suggest that captive breeding and reintroduction efforts need to be expanded and the number of reintroduction areas increased, taking into account the projected impacts of climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2024


  • protected areas, biodiversity, climate change

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