Climate change, ecosystem impacts, and management for Pacific Salmon


Schindler, D., Augerot, X., Fleishman, E., Mantua, N.J., Riddell, B., Ruckelshaus, M.H., Seeb, J., Webster, M. 2008. Climate change, ecosystem impacts, and management for Pacific Salmon. Fisheries 33(10):502-506.


As climate change intensifies, there is increasing interest in developing models that reduce uncertainties in projections of global climate and refine these projections to finer spatial scales. Forecasts of climate impacts on ecosystems are far more challenging and their uncertainties even larger because of a limited understanding of physical controls on biological systems. Management and conservation plans that explicitly account for changing climate are rare and even those generally rely on retrospective analyses rather than future scenarios of climatic conditions and associated responses of specific ecosystems. Using past biophysical relationships as a guide to predicting the impacts of future climate change assumes that the observed relationships will remain constant. However, this assumption involves a long chain of uncertainty about future greenhouse gas emissions, climate sensitivity to changes in greenhouse gases, and the ecological consequences of climate change. These uncertainties in forecasting biological responses to changing climate highlight the need for resource management and conservation policies that are robust to unknowns and responsive to change. We suggest how policy might develop despite substantial uncertainties about the future state of salmon ecosystems.