Integrating Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment into Adaptation Planning: A Case Study Using the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index to Inform Conservation Planning for Species in Florida

Developed by Defenders of Wildlife in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, this report presents a case study using NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index to inform planning for species conservation in Florida.  The work was a pilot for an adaptation framework that integrates information from species vulnerability assessments into a comprehensive planning process, to identify adaptation strategies and management opportunities for species vulnerable to climate change impacts.  The case study was conducted in parallel with a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study commissioned by FWC, “Considering Climate Change in Florida’s State Wildlife Action Planning: A Spatial Resilience Planning Approach."

The case study involved developing a framework process to integrate adaptation planning into the existing processes used for the Florida state wildlife action plan (SWAP). Using the NatureServe Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), the researchers assessed the vulnerabilities of 21 different species in Florida, with a focus on native species previously identified in Florida’s SWAP as species of greatest conservation need. CCVI is an Excel-based tool that uses information about the natural history, distribution, and ecology of species to provide a relative assessment of species vulnerability in relation to climate change. Assessments using the climate vulnerability tool were conducted for 21 species that reflected diverse ecological and management attributes of interest: five native birds, four native reptiles, three native amphibians, and four native mammals. (Details on the individual species assessments are included in Appendix A.)

The CCVI was used to assess climate change vulnerability given certain species-specific factors, and these results were then used to develop a framework for identifying and analyzing the factors contributing to vulnerability, which provides a basis for developing management strategies. The researchers worked with species experts, wildlife managers, and other conservation practitioners through a workshop to develop the framework for incorporating species vulnerability assessment findings and adaptation strategies into existing state wildlife action planning processes.

The Defenders report details the process developed in the workshop and the effectiveness of the CCVI. They find that essentially the CCVI "is a model for integrating the components of vulnerability into a summary rank or score. However, it is the process of assessing the parameters affecting vulnerability, not simply the composite score, that provides the context for successful adaptation planning."


Publication Date: 2011

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment guide

States Affected:


  • Air temperature
  • Precipitation changes

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