Adapting Conservation to a Changing Climate: An Update to the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan

The Update to the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) was released in 2011 by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in order to incorporate climate change considerations into the 2005 WAP.

The update process had four primary objectives:

  • To conduct climate vulnerability assessment of species and habitats
  • Identify conservation strategies that increase resiliency and adaptive capacity, or mitigate effects of climate change
  • Outline adaptive management approach
  • Recommend changes to existing monitoring programs and identify future research needs

Illinois developed strategic adaptation actions in their WAP by working with a broad array of partners. The Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy was contacted by the DNR in 2009 to evaluate a subset of Species in Greatest Need of Conservation identified in the WAP for climate vulnerability. They used NatureServe's Climate Change Vulnerability Index to rank vulnerability across the state's natural divisions and major watersheds.

The Nature Conservancy rated the climate change vulnerability of 162 Species in Greatest Need of Conservation - resulting in 584 assessments.

Summarized results from the assessments are provided in the report for mollusks, insects, crustaceans, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Habitats were also assessed including forests, open woodlands/savanna/barren areas, grassland, shrub land, wetlands, lakes and ponds, streams, and caves.   

The assessments indicated that high proportions of mollusks and fishes were rated “Extremely” or “Highly Vulnerable” to climate change, while few reptiles, birds or mammals were rated as such. Vulnerable species tended to be associated with headwater streams or ephemeral wetlands, and face significant natural or anthropogenic barriers to dispersal. The large rivers of Illinois, and the concentrations of natural land cover lying along them, are staged to be important corridors for species migrations.

The report provides priority conservation actions for managing the effects of climate change on Illinois wildlife and habitat. For each of the habitat and climate impact categories in the 2005 Wildlife Action Plan, the Update pairs first-tier actions with specific considerations for adaptation to or mitigation for climate change.

Publication Date: May 11, 2011

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  • Adaptation plan

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