A Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for Biodiversity in New Mexico

The New Mexico Climate Change Adaptation Project of the Nature Conservancy produced this vulnerability assessment in two parts: Part I - "Implications of Recent Climate Change on Conservation Priorities in New Mexico" and Part II - "Conservation Implications of Emerging Moisture Stress due to Recent Climate Changes in New Mexico." Part one is a state-wide assessment of the climate change vulnerability of priority habitats and wildlife species.

The report details more recent changes to New Mexico's climate, and the implications for ecosystems, habitats, and species. The assessment determines which major habitat types, ecoregions, and conservation areas have experienced the most and least change. It also identifies which climate (specifically drought) sensitive conservation target species have been most and least exposed to these changes.  

The analysis of recent ecological climate impacts in New Mexico illustrates that many species and ecosystems in the region are impacted by climate change. The study shows that a majority of New Mexico’s ecoregions and key conservation areas already have experienced statistically significant increased temperatures, variable precipitation, and drought. Drought-sensitive wildlife species were identified that - when present in key conservation areas, these species are added to a composite climate exposure ranking.  

The study found that climate exposure was greater for higher-elevation ecoregions, and less for lower-elevation ecoregions. Ranked from highest to lowest exposure, these ecoregions are: the Southern Rocky Mountains, the Arizona-New Mexico Mountains, Colorado Plateau, Apache Highlands, Chihuahuan Desert, and Southern/Central Shortgrass Prairie ecoregions. When the occurrence of drought-sensitive species was considered, the Jemez Mountains ranked highest of the higher-exposure sites. The Southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains site was found to have the highest drought-sensitive bird species richness in the network of key conservation areas.


Publication Date: December 4, 2008

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Carolyn A. F. Enquist
  • David F. Gori

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  • Assessment

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