Climate and Land Use Change Effects on Ecological Resources in Three Watersheds: A Synthesis Report

The effects of global change drivers differ by place and in scale, necessitating place-specific impacts information to enable stakeholders to respond appropriately. Place and scale also determine appropriate adaptation strategies and expected outcomes. Three watershed case study assessments were conducted to advance the capability of managers to consider climate and land use change in watershed management decisions. The case studies were of the San Pedro River Watershed, the Sacramento River Watershed, and several small watersheds in Maryland (see Related Links).

The goal of the Maryland case study was to better understand how the effects of climate variability and change on stream ecosystems depend on land use choices in surrounding areas in order to assist regional planners to adapt to climate change and variability.

The goal of the San Pedro case study was to model the likely effects of climate change, urbanization, and groundwater withdrawals on ecological resources and biodiversity in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) in order to aid in managing the area’s development and hydrologic conditions.

The goal of the Sacramento case study was to assess how global change-related alterations in water supply and water demand would affect important freshwater ecosystem services in the Sacramento Basin using an integrated decision support tool that would inform on issues such as reservoir location, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) dam re-licensing, and system operations to preserve the ecosystem services of interest or of regulatory necessity.

This report is a synthesis of the three case-study assessments. The report compares and contrasts methods and processes employed by the three case study teams to learn effective analytic, project management, and decision support approaches to advance the capability of managers to consider climate and land use change in watershed management decisions. It discusses insights gained from a comparison across the studies of the process used for conducting watershed assessments and effective ways of improving the capability to support decisions.

Specifically, the three case studies contributed to both methodological advances and new results to the body of knowledge on climate change impacts that will be broadly useful in three ways: the results themselves may be extrapolated to similar systems; the methods used to link process models across disciplines may be used by other assessment teams and in other geographic regions of the country, and the insights gained about the assessment process will be helpful to any research institution seeking to produce useful climate impacts information for decision makers.

Publication Date: August 2007

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Susan H. Julius
  • Britta G. Bierwagen
  • Thomas E. Johnson
  • Randall Freed
  • Susan Asam
  • Sandra Shapiro

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Case study

States Affected:


Go To Resource