Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Montana Wildlife
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Montana Wildlife Project

Can camouflage keep up with climate change? Connecting down-scaled climate models to adaptation for a key forest species.

October 2009 - September 2012


Participating Agencies

  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Global Change

In this project Dr. Mike Mitchell will collaborate with Dr. L. Scott. Mills, who has the longest-running snowshoe hare study in the United States, and Dr. Steve Running, a Nobel-Prize winning IPCC climatologist. We will use radiotelemetry to determine the demographic cost of mismatch of snowshoe hares to their background, and to evaluate the scope for movement and/or adaptive responses whereby timing of coat color shifts are modified or behaviors mitigate negative effects of mismatch. Importantly, we will then specifically connect the responses of hares to high-resolution climate models of snowpack and temperature that are at scales relevant to hares and that can be projected for the next 30-50+ years. The result will be a complete package whereby species (and ecosystem responses) can be forecast using ecologically relevant climate models.