Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs)
Assessing Priority Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs) and Vulnerability to Climate Change in the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC)
Amphibians and reptiles are experiencing threats throughout North America due to habitat loss and other factors. To help conserve these species, this project will identify Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs) that are most vital in sustaining amphibian and reptile populations, taking into account potential future climatic conditions.
Amphibians and reptiles are experiencing severe habitat loss throughout North America; however, this threat to biodiversity can be mitigated by identifying and managing areas that serve a disproportionate role in sustaining herpetofauna. Identification of such areas must take into consideration the dynamic nature of habitat suitability. As climate rapidly changes it is possible that areas currently deemed suitable may no longer be so in the future. To address these needs, we are proposing to generate spatially-explicit data that will (1) identify Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs) – those discrete areas most vital to maintaining reptile and amphibian diversity, (2) project regions of current and future climatic suitability for a number of priority reptiles and amphibians in the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and (3) identify gaps in distributional data for these species that may prevent or inhibit the identification of species-level climatic suitability.
Objective 1, identification of PARCAs will proceed by collecting natural history information, distributional data, and by weighing expert opinion for key species. Objectives 2- 3 will rely on collection of known locality data and the use of inductive species distribution modeling. Collectively, this process will represent the assembling and processing of all necessary information for identifying PARCAs. These approaches will offer a long-term assessment of resiliency of PARCAs identified with respect to those that may provide refugia as the climate changes. The original proposal is available here. A similar project was also funded by the South Atlantic LCC
LCC Staff Contact: Scott Schwenk
Project PIs have continued to correspond with states since approximately early November to address questions and review suggested revisions to the modeled PARCAs. Reviews were completed with VA, DC, RI, VT, and CT in the previous quarter, and feedback received from MA, ME, MD, PA, NJ, NH, and NY this quarter. PIs are currently working with DE and an additional reviewer in NY on their reviews. They hope to finalize those reviews by the end of April.
A contract extension was granted in January 2015; the new end date is June 2016. As part of the contract extension process, a revision of team responsibilities was completed in consultation with the North Atlantic LCC. Additional datasets were obtained, although higher-resolution data is still being sought for a few states. For states without Herp atlases, NatureServe data was used. Sutton and Barrett published results from modeled climate distributions for nearly 60 species (see article under "Publications").
Project workshops were organized at the Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Meeting in July 2013 and the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference in April 2014. Allison Moody's NEAFWA presentation is available here.
A project webinar was also presented on August 29, 2013; to download click here.
NALCC Funding: $315,874