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      Climate change, wildfire, and past forest management challenge conservation of Canada lynx in Washington, USA

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          The synergistic effects of climate change, wildfires, fire suppression, and past forest management are challenging efforts to protect and recover Canada lynx ( Lynx canadensis) in the North Cascades of Washington, USA. Canada lynx is a threatened species in the United States and a focal species used to gain insights into the structure and function of boreal forest ecosystems. To understand how multiple stressors are influencing lynx populations and the boreal forest in Washington, we developed a spatially explicit carrying capacity model in HexSim using local data on lynx resource selection and life history. We used this model to estimate changes in carrying capacity and population persistence for 3 time steps: year 2000, which represented limited historical wildfire and aggressive fire suppression; year 2013, after nearly 2,000 km 2 of wildfires burned about 17% of lynx habitat; and year 2020, after an additional 2,000 km 2 of wildfires burned another 15% of lynx habitat in our study area. Fires altered habitat distribution and landscape capacity to support Canada lynx. There was a 66–73% reduction in lynx carrying capacity in our study area because of large, high‐severity fires that have occurred from 2000–2020, despite aggressive fire suppression. This reduction in carrying capacity was concurrent with decreases in the probability of lynx persistence from year 2000 to year 2020 simulations and was most pronounced for simulations that included no immigration and the largest home range size. The negative synergistic influences of long‐term fire suppression, timber harvest, increased drought, longer wildfire seasons, declining mountain snowpack, and increasingly frequent large fires pose considerable challenges to the conservation and recovery of Canada lynx and the boreal forest ecosystem upon which they depend. We discuss an alternative approach to vegetation and fire management to conserve and restore lynx habitat and populations in Washington.

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          Causal attribution of recent biological trends to climate change is complicated because non-climatic influences dominate local, short-term biological changes. Any underlying signal from climate change is likely to be revealed by analyses that seek systematic trends across diverse species and geographic regions; however, debates within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal several definitions of a 'systematic trend'. Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than 1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change predictions. Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward), and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. We define a diagnostic fingerprint of temporal and spatial 'sign-switching' responses uniquely predicted by twentieth century climate trends. Among appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic fingerprint was found for 279 species. This suite of analyses generates 'very high confidence' (as laid down by the IPCC) that climate change is already affecting living systems.
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              The package “adehabitat” for the R software: A tool for the analysis of space and habitat use by animals


                Author and article information

                (View ORCID Profile)
                The Journal of Wildlife Management
                J Wildl Manag
                July 2023
                April 11 2023
                July 2023
                : 87
                : 5
                [1 ] Washington Conservation Science Institute PO Box 511 Leavenworth WA 98826 USA
                [2 ] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife PO Box 43200 Olympia WA 98504 USA
                [3 ] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 1130 W. University Way Ellensburg WA 98926 USA
                [4 ] Conservation Northwest 1829 10th Avenue W, Suite B Seattle WA 98856 USA
                [5 ] School of the Environment Washington State University Pullman WA 99164 USA
                [6 ] USDA Forest Service PNW Research Station 1133 N Western Avenue Wenatchee WA 98801 USA
                [7 ] Home Range Wildlife Research PO Box 1345 Winthrop WA 98826 USA
                [8 ] Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 54 Lynx Lane Winthrop WA 98862 USA
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