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

Nebraska Project

Scenarios of Climate Change and Land Use Change and Biological Invasions

August 2010 - December 2012


Participating Agencies

  • USGS

Biological invasions are a growing threat to both human enterprise and ecological systems. Estimates of costs associated with non-indigenous species in the United States exceed $120 billion per year. Ecological costs are more difficult to quantify, but include the extinction of indigenous biota and changes in ecological processes, with concomitant losses of ecosystem services and capital. Climate change will almost certainly exacerbate problems with invasive species. A number of investigations have indicated that regional change in climate will affect plant invasions in the Great Plains. Observed or predicted alterations of climate include earlier onset of spring, warmer winters, spatial and temporal changes in precipitation patterns, and reduced snowpack in the Rocky Mountains—resulting in lower runoff to Great Plains’ streams. However, much remains unknown concerning the relationship between climate change and biological invasions. The purpose this study is to develop a gap analysis of research and monitoring needs for biological invasions as mediated or affected by climate change in the Northern Great Plains of the USA. This analysis is in support of the development of a Climate Effects Center in the Great Plains, and will include a gap analysis of: 1) current research; 2) research needs and 3) monitoring needs. Additionally, we will begin work on developing scenarios of climate/landuse change effects on species invasions and range contractions, and the effects of policy interventions on the impacts of invasions driven by climate change.