Evaluating the Use of Spatially Explicit Population Models to Predict Conservation Reliant Species in Nonanalogue Future Environments on DoD Lands

IWS research ecologists are taking part in a study of projected environmental impacts of climate change on multiple species and their management at several U.S. military bases (U.S. Department of Defense[DoD] land). The study is part of an effort through the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) to develop models for predicting habitat use by endangered and at-risk animal populations on DoD lands.

The goal of this project is to develop a framework for determining which species are likely to become conservation reliant as global climate change creates new environments on DoD lands.
Specifically, we will:
1) use experimental studies to determine how the 6 species’ demographic rates are expected to change under plausible future climate conditions;
2) build and use Spatially Explicit Environmental Driver (SEED) population models to predict population changes in future environments;
3) validate SEED model predictions in experimentally created conditions, and;
4) compare SEED model population dynamic predictions across species to determine ecological characteristics of conservation reliant vs. adaptive species.

Hydaspe fritillary butterflyCalifornia red-legged frog



Focal Species,

Study Types,

and Demographic Needs




Demonstration species
Northern red-legged frog
(Rana aurora)
California red-legged frog
(Rana draytonii)
- Enclosed pond survey
- mark-recapture
- experimental pond
- dye powder tracking
- Survival at different stages
- egg laying and development rates
- dispersal potential
Appalachian brown butterfly
(Satyrodes appalachia)
Hydaspe fritillary butterfly
(Speyeria hydaspe)
- mark-recapture
- flight path tracking
- experimental rearing
- adult survival
- dispersal potential
- temperature-dependent egg-to-adult transition
Venus flytrap
(Dionaea muscipula)
- demographic monitoring for 4 years throughout range
- experimental warming with field greenhouses
- temperature and precipitation dependent survival, growth, seed production, and germination rates
Flagship Species
Red-cockaded woodpecker
(Leuconotopicus borealis)
- demographic data from long-term studies - egg-laying dates
- clutch sizes
- productivity
Western snowy plover
(Charadrius nivosus)
- demographic data from long-term studies - adult and juvenile survival rates
- per capita chick productivity
- fledging rates

Adult Snowy PloverTechnical Approach:
The main technical tool in this project, SEED models, are next-generation population models that link demographic rates to environmental variables at all points across spatially explicit landscapes. The models incorporate dispersal of individual organisms between habitat patches to gauge the population consequences of landscape changes in both space and time.

This study will provide a set of tools that will assist DoD land managers to anticipate future management needs as a result of global climate change.

Visit our latest SERDP sponsored projects:

~ Wildlife Dispersal Project: Fort Bragg, NC

~ Source / Sink Dynamics


Photo credits: California red-legged frog, hydaspe fritillary butterfly, and western snowy plover - Brian Hudgens
                     northern red-legged frog, and hydaspe fritillary in slideshow - Walter Siegmund (cropped)
                     red-cockaded woodpecker in background - USFWS Southwest (cropped/stretched)