Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change on Fish and Wildlife in North Carolina

Prepared by the Defenders of Wildlife for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and the NC Wildlife Action Plan Workshop Steering Committee, this report provides a thorough overview of climate change impacts and recommended planning approaches for fish and wildlife in North Carolina.  

This 200+ page report presents climate change science relevant to North Carolina, the potential vulnerability of wildlife and their habitats, and the options for response through conservation planning, adaptive management, strategies, and actions. A synthesis of the projected shifts in temperature, precipitation, hydrology, and sea-level rise is provided along with a review of the fundamental ecological principles that underlie potential climate change impacts on natural systems. That analysis is then used to identify potential impacts of projected shifts on specific species and habitats in the Southeast region and in North Carolina.

The projected impacts on species and habitats are described with a focus on temperature, precipitation, sea level rise, land use change and invasive species. Tables for mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and bird species with the greatest conservation needs are included along with some summarized assessments for individual species and habitat types. Synergistic impacts, such as population growth and land use changes, are discussed in detail - with planning considerations. This section includes a fascinating discussion of wind energy capacity in the state, and the potential impacts from wind and other renewable energy development on species and habitats.

A conservation planning process is presented in Chapter 5, with a discussion on what climate adaptation means in the context of conservation planning, and the key steps that are needed in this process (e.g. incorporating vulnerability assessments). Adaptation strategies, management actions, recommendation for building institutional adaptive capacity are provided in the last section.

Some of the general adaptation strategies suggested include protecting adequate and appropriate natural areas, promoting landscape connectivity to facilitate species' movements and gene flow, and reducing non-climate threats.  

Publication Date: 2010

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • A. DeWan
  • N. Dubois
  • K. Theoharides
  • J. Boshoven.

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment

States Affected:


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