Connecting Alaska's landscapes into the future

The goal of this effort is sustaining landscape level biodiversity in Alaska by ensuring connectivity into the future as the climate changes.

This is a consensus driven product through which we hope to identify conservation strategies with partners. This is also an exercise to identify ecologically important corridors and/or barriers that impact connectivity, not to plan for new designated lands. 

The first two-day workshop was held in May 2008. Presentations included:

  • a summary of the project goals
  • a review of basic landscape ecology principles
  • an introduction to potential modeling methods that could be employed
  • an overview of uncertainty and available data layers
  • a summary of potential conservation partnerships

Discussion points included:

  • exploration of how to incorporate climate change into modeling efforts
  • how to define land cover and/or ecosystem categories
  • how to select an appropriate scale of analysis
  • whether to focus attention on individual species, species groups, or biomes/ecosystems

After the first workshop, all agreed that this project is a relevant and timely first step in addressing the impacts of climate change in Alaska. However, because of uncertainty about the outcomes of various methods for modeling corridors, and the accuracy and resolution of currently modeled biome shifts, we have decided to approach the problem more incrementally.

Next steps

In the interim between the first and second workshops, Falk Huettman will develop a more Alaska-specific model of vegetation and biome change over the next 100 years, and use these layers in corridor modeling for important but disparate single species: caribou, blueberry, trumpeter swan, and Alaska marmot.

Our collective evaluation of the outcomes of these pilot efforts at our second workshop will help us to refine the goal(s) and modeling approach(es) for the final product.