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Climate information to support wildlife management in the North Central United States

Heather M. Yocum, Andrea J. Ray
Regional environmental change 2019 v.19 no.4 pp. 1187-1199
climate, climate change, decision making, ecology, information needs, information sources, interviews, issues and policy, meteorological data, new products, planning, wetlands, wildlife, wildlife management, Midwestern United States
This paper investigates what is needed to make climate and weather information more usable for the wildlife management practitioners and ecological researchers in the Prairie Potholes Region (PPR) of the North Central United States. Using interviews, policy document analysis, and participant observation, we identify climate and weather information needs, barriers to use, and opportunities to provide better information to these users. We found that the research and management communities need guidance on how to interpret and apply existing information. Climate information needs in the PPR are driven by the need to understand how projected changes in precipitation will impact prairie wetland ecology. Primary needs include guidance towards selecting, interpreting, and using various climate information products to understand impacts and explanations of the differences between new products and previously available information. Another need includes information on how the societal responses to climate change will further impact ecological systems. Existing management priorities, limited institutional resources, and limited ecological data are remaining barriers that can be ameliorated by leveraging existing policy processes or trusted sources of information to provide guidance, thereby reducing time and costs associated with using climate information in wildlife policy planning. Throughout, we emphasize the importance of the social and ecological aspects of the decision-making context to shape climate information needs, barriers, and entry points. Additional research is needed on the diverse ways that users engage with and use climate information, and additional efforts are needed to co-produce guidance documents that interpret climate information for management and research communities.