Translator Disclaimer
1 August 2017 Understanding and Managing the Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystem Services in the Rocky Mountains
Author Affiliations +

Public lands in the US Rocky Mountains provide critical ecosystem services, especially to rural communities that rely on these lands for fuel, food, water, and recreation. Climate change will likely affect the ability of these lands to provide ecosystem services. We describe 2 efforts to assess climate change vulnerabilities and develop adaptation options on federal lands in the Rocky Mountains. We specifically focus on aspects that affect community economic security and livelihood security, including water quality and quantity, timber, livestock grazing, and recreation. Headwaters of the Rocky Mountains serve as the primary source of water for large populations, and these headwaters are located primarily on public land. Thus, federal agencies will play a key role in helping to protect water quantity and quality by promoting watershed function and water conservation. Although increased temperatures and atmospheric concentration of CO2 have the potential to increase timber and forage production in the Rocky Mountains, those gains may be offset by wildfires, droughts, insect outbreaks, non-native species, and altered species composition. Our assessment identified ways in which federal land managers can help sustain forest and range productivity, primarily by increasing ecosystem resilience and minimizing current stressors, such as invasive species. Climate change will likely increase recreation participation. However, recreation managers will need more flexibility to adjust practices, provide recreation opportunities, and sustain economic benefits to communities. Federal agencies are now transitioning from the planning phase of climate change adaptation to implementation to ensure that ecosystem services will continue to be provided from federal lands in a changing climate.


Efforts to integrate ecosystem services, or the benefits people receive from nature, into US federal land management policy and practice have increased over the last 5 years. The US Forest Service is required to address ecosystem services in management plans for national forests (Federal Register 2012). The National Park Service incorporated ecosystem services into management planning and made ecosystem services a key part of their 2011 Call to Action (Jarvis 2011). In the strongest commitment to date, a Presidential Memorandum was issued in October 2015, instructing federal agencies to incorporate ecosystem services into decision making, and requiring each agency to formalize a plan for doing so (Office of the President of the United States 2015).

This emphasis on ecosystem services at the federal level is consistent with the role mountain ecosystems play in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN 2015) and with UN sustainable development goals (UN 2017). For example, the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15.4 is to “By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.” Protection of water-related ecosystems, including mountains, is also a goal (6.6).

Ecosystem services from public lands in the US Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains are critical for neighboring communities. Major uses of water in the region include domestic and municipal water supply, industrial use, oil and gas development, recreational uses, and hydroelectric power production. Both “Old West” livelihoods like timber and grazing and “New West” lifestyles tied to outdoor recreation are part of the cultural heritage of the region. Although their relative economic importance has declined in recent decades, timber and livestock grazing are important economic forces in the Rocky Mountains. Forest products make up about 23% of direct manufacturing employment in Montana (McIver et al 2013), and public lands are an important source of forage for ranchers, both as primary places to graze and as supplements to grazing on private lands (US GAO 2005). This region is also home to iconic landscapes such as Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and the Salmon River. More than 15 million people visit national forests and parks in the Greater Yellowstone Area and Glacier National Park area, and total annual expenditures by visitors in 2014 were more than US$ 800 million (according to National Visitor Use Monitoring Data; English et al 2001).

Climate change will likely result in increased occurrence of fire, insect outbreaks, and drought in the Rocky Mountains, driving ecosystem change and making the future provisioning of ecosystem services uncertain (Seidl et al 2016). Climate change will affect water availability and quality, human behavior and recreation, and provisioning of timber and forage (Mendelsohn and Markowski 2004; Mooney el al 2009; Montoya and Raffaelli 2010; Groffman et al 2014). Decreased quantity and quality of ecosystem services produced by public lands will affect human systems that rely on them, requiring communities to seek alternative means of providing these services or to change local economies and lifeways.

We describe here 2 recent science-based climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation efforts for ecosystem services on federal lands in the US Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains. We specifically address the following questions: (1) How will climate change affect ecosystem services in the Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains? and (2) How can mountain ecosystems be managed to minimize negative impacts of climate change on ecosystem services and help meet UN SDGs 6 and 15? Although climate change affects every aspect of mountain ecosystems listed in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), we focus here on aspects that affect community economic security and livelihoods, specifically water, timber, livestock grazing, and recreation (Figure 1).


Major classes of forest services, as adapted from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystem services included in climate change vulnerability assessments described here are outlined in bold. We added grazing as a service provided by federal lands in the Northern Rockies.



Two science-management partnerships were developed to conduct climate change vulnerability assessments and determine adaptation options for US Forest Service and National Park Service lands in the Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains. Partnership locations included the Forest Service Northern and Intermountain Regions (Northern Rockies and Intermountain Adaptation Partnerships, respectively;  http://adaptation (Figure 2). Vulnerability assessments covered hydrology, fisheries, forest and rangeland vegetation, ecological disturbance, and ecosystem services. Generally, assessments for ecosystem services built on assessments for the associated natural resources.


Northern Rockies and Intermountain (Middle Rockies) adaptation partnership locations, with participating national forests and national parks. (Map by Jessica Halofsky)


Vulnerability assessments for ecosystem services were conducted in each of the study regions (Figure 2) by teams of scientists from the US Forest Service, other federal agencies, and universities. Assessments used the best available science and considered exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity (sensu Parry et al 2007) for each ecosystem service (Halofsky et al 2017). To determine likely levels of exposure to climate change, or the degree of deviation in temperature and precipitation in the future compared to a historical period, downscaled general circulation model (GCM) climate projections, obtained from the Geo Data Portal at the US Geological Survey Center for Integrative Data Analytics, were summarized for the study areas (Joyce et al 2017). These data included projections from 34 GCMs under Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5 (van Vuuren et al 2011) from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5, used in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (Stocker et al 2013). Climate projections were downscaled using the bias-correction and spatial disaggregation method (Maurer et al 2007).

Methods to assess climate change sensitivity differed by ecosystem service. In all cases, scientists reviewed published literature and available climate change impact model projections to determine sensitivity. Quantitative data were used when possible, but qualitative descriptions or proxy measures were often used. For timber and grazing, assessments drew from forest and rangeland vegetation vulnerability assessments (Keane et al 2017; Reeves et al 2017). Vegetation model output, such as that from the MC2 dynamic global vegetation model (Bachelet et al 2001) was used, where available. For water availability, the assessments were based on projections from the Variable Infiltration Capacity model (Liang et al 1994) and other analyses (Luce 2017). The recreation assessments were primarily qualitative assessments using a newly developed framework (Hand and Lawson 2017). To evaluate adaptive capacity, defined here as the institutional capability to modify management, decision-making, and policy to ensure sustainable production of ecosystem services, we evaluated the potential for ecosystems, agencies, and society to adjust to changing climate.

The vulnerability assessments were used as the basis for developing adaptation strategies and tactics in 10 workshops (Table 1); 5 workshops were conducted throughout each study region to capture geographic variation in resource condition and management issues. In the first part of the workshops, scientists presented vulnerability assessments for the resource areas (eg hydrology, vegetation, etc). Resource managers then separated into small groups by resource area and engaged in facilitated discussion to complete worksheets (adapted from Swanston and Janowiak 2012). In consultation with scientists, managers identified key vulnerabilities to climate change for each resource area and developed:

  • 1. Adaptation strategies, or overarching approaches for resource planning and management (eg building resilience, increasing diversity) and

  • 2. Adaptation tactics, or on-the-ground management actions (eg accelerating hazardous fuels management).


Number of resource managers, scientists, and agencies/organizations that participated in the 10 workshops as a part of the Northern Rockies Adaptation Partnership (Montana, North Dakota, and northern Idaho) and Intermountain Adaptation Partnership (Utah, Nevada, and southern Idaho). Participants had diverse backgrounds, with expertise in hydrology, soils, vegetation (botany, silviculture, forests, and rangelands), fire, entomology, wildlife, recreation, engineering, ecosystem services, and archaeology.


Managers identified options considered feasible given current regulations, funding, and personnel. Most of the resource managers participating in the workshops had 10–25 years of experience in their fields (Table 1), making them well qualified to provide strong expert judgements about appropriate management response to climate change (Halofsky and Peterson 2016). Adaptation options were also reviewed by teams of scientists and managers after the workshops to ensure scientific validity (Halofsky et al 2017).

Below, we summarize the results of the vulnerability assessments, as well as adaptation options developed in the science-management workshops, focusing on timber production, livestock grazing, water availability and quality, and recreation.


Water availability and quality

Water yield, timing, and quality affect water supply for municipal and agricultural use, and all 3 will be affected by climate change in the Rocky Mountains. Water yield and timing are closely tied to snowpack in mountain landscapes, and warmer temperatures will likely result in reduced snowpack in the Rocky Mountains (Luce et al 2014). Earlier snowmelt will cause earlier stream runoff, and reduced snowpack will cause lower summer streamflows (Luce and Holden 2009). By the 2080s, the median flow date is expected to be over 20 days earlier in most locations in the Rocky Mountains, and summer flows are projected to decline by 20–40% in most locations (compared to 1977–2006 with moderate warming) (Luce 2017). Altered timing and quantity of summer flow are expected to cause shortages of surface water in locations where demand is high in the summer months (Figure 3). Municipal systems may experience increased treatment costs and greater dependence on groundwater intakes to meet demand.


Drinking water vulnerability in national forests in the Intermountain Region under changing climate. The analysis utilized municipal drinking water intake locations and nearby spatial characteristics to identify drinking water vulnerability for the various users who depend on National Forest System lands within the region. Vulnerability is measured based on indicators of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. The final components for each system were standardized for comparison to other water systems within the region. Exposure was measured according to projected changes in annual stream flow, summer stream flow, stream temperature, and runoff timing from downscaled climate models. Sensitivity and adaptive capacity were measured according to current sub-watershed land cover, use, conditions, and threats. (Analysis and map by Matt Elmer, Colorado State University)


Water quality may also be affected by changing climate in the Rocky Mountains. Stream temperatures are expected to increase in response to increased air temperature and lower summer flows (Isaak et al 2016). Extreme weather and a higher rain:snow ratio may increase runoff from agricultural fields and add pesticides and fertilizers to streams. In addition, increased number and severity of wildfires can accelerate sediment deposition in streams, lakes, and reservoirs (Benda et al 2003; Coombs and Melack 2013).

Public lands are a critical source of municipal water supplies. Increasing implementation of current practices that improve watershed function, such as restoring and protecting riparian systems and wetlands, reducing hazardous fuels in dry forests, and reducing erosion potential, will help ensure that public lands continue to provide high quality water to communities (Luce 2017). These tactics will be more effective if prioritized in high-value locations (near communities and reservoirs). Water storage can be increased by increasing American beaver populations, constructing wetlands, and decommissioning roads (Table 2). Reducing water use and increasing efficiency will also be increasingly important for maintaining adequate supplies. Federal agencies can demonstrate leadership in water conservation, conveying a positive image to local communities.


Summary of climate change vulnerabilities, adaptation strategies, and adaptation tactics for water quantity and quality in the Rocky Mountains.



With increased temperatures and atmospheric CO2, the potential exists for increasing forest productivity (Aston 2010) and biomass accumulation (Lin et al 2010), which may lead to increases in timber production at higher elevations (Garcia-Gonzolo et al 2007; Keane et al 2017). Moisture limitations, ecological disturbances, and their interactions may reduce forest growth at low elevations (Littell et al 2013). Over decades, higher temperature and soil moisture deficits may cause the location of some desirable timber species to shift and in some cases to be more susceptible to root disease (Keane et al 2017).

Climate change may also increase wildfire area burned (Westerling et al 2006; Rocca et al 2014; Barbero et al 2015), drought severity (Littell et al 2016; Vose et al 2016), and insect outbreaks (Bentz et al 2010; Loehman et al 2017). These disturbances are often associated with significant tree mortality. Though harvests can increase in the short term through salvage of dead and dying trees, long-term timber availability is expected to decrease (Warziniack et al 2017). Warmer winters and associated freezing and thawing may increase forest road erosion and landslides, making winter harvest more difficult and expensive, and potentially reducing timber supply (Karl et al 2009). However, adaptation in US timber and wood product markets may offset potentially negative effects of climate change (Irland et al 2001).

Adaptation strategies for timber (Table 3) mainly focused on increasing resilience to changing conditions (Keane et al 2017). For example, many strategies and associated tactics focused on promoting productivity and vigor of existing forests to reduce susceptibility to stress from drought, insects, and wildfire. Current practices, including forest thinning and prescribed fire, were suggested as tools that could be increasingly used to reduce stress from multiple sources (Littell et al 2013). More novel approaches, such as promoting disturbance-resilient species and increasing species and genetic diversity through plantings, could also help increase resilience to changing climate (Dymond et al 2014) (Table 3). In the future, modifying tree-species seed zones and assisted migration could be used to help transition ecosystems to new climates (Halofsky and Peterson 2016).


Summary of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for timber in the Rocky Mountains. (Table continued on next page.)


Livestock grazing

In the Northern Rocky Mountains, increased temperatures and growing season length are expected to increase net primary productivity in rangelands, particularly at higher elevations (Reeves et al 2014; Reeves et al 2017). Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations may also increase rangeland productivity by increasing water use efficiency (Izaurralde et al 2011; Polley et al 2013; Reeves et al 2014). However, in low-elevation, moisture-limited areas of the Northern and Middle Rockies, without significant increases in precipitation, increased temperatures will increase evaporative demand, reducing soil moisture and productivity (Polley et al 2013). Increased wildfire area burned and establishment of non-native species may also decrease rangeland productivity. For example, dominance of non-native annual grasses can create a positive feedback in which frequent fire leads to increased dominance of annual grasses, which create fuel conditions that facilitate more frequent fire (Chambers et al 2007). These conditions are exacerbated by wetter and warmer winters (Joyce et al 2017).

Adaptation strategies for grazing focused on increasing resilience of rangeland vegetation, primarily through current approaches to non-native species control and prevention. Demand for grazing on high-elevation national forest land may increase with warming. Federal land managers identified increasing flexibility in timing, duration, and intensity of authorized grazing as a tactic to prevent ecosystem degradation and allow ecosystems to transition to new conditions (Table 4). They also stressed the importance of developing a holistic approach to grazing management, taking ranchers' needs into consideration, and developing a collaborative relationship with range permittees that focuses on problem solving rather than rule enforcement.


Summary of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for grazing in the Rocky Mountains.



Warming temperatures in the Rocky Mountains will likely increase participation in outdoor recreation (Bowker et al 2013), with increases in warm-weather activities outweighing losses in winter activities (Loomis and Crespi 2004; Mendelsohn and Markowski 2004). Warming is expected to reduce season length and the likelihood of reliable winter recreation seasons. Lower elevations may become unsuitable for snow-based recreation because of warmer temperatures. High-elevation sites will likely experience more variability in season length (Hand and Lawson 2017).

In contrast, climate change is expected to lengthen the season for warm-weather activities as snow- and ice-free sites become accessible earlier, and temperatures are higher during the autumn and spring “shoulder” seasons (Hand and Lawson 2017). However, extreme summer temperatures can dampen participation during the hottest weeks of the year (Bowker et al 2012), shifting demand to cooler weeks or to alternative sites less exposed to extreme temperatures (eg lakes, reservoirs, and streams). Wildfire activity may reduce demand in some years because of degraded site desirability, impaired air quality from smoke, and limited site access. Recreation visits to sites with highly valued natural characteristics (eg glaciers and charismatic wildlife species) may also decrease in the future if the quality of those sites is threatened (Scott et al 2007). For example, fishing for cold-water species (eg salmon) is expected to decline with increased stream temperatures that threaten habitat (Jones et al 2013).

Adaptive capacity among recreationists is high because they can switch to alternative sites, alter the timing of visits, and alter capital investments (eg gear). The ability of federal managers to adjust recreation management to climate change is generally more limited. To provide sustainable recreation opportunities, it will be necessary to consider how infrastructure investments and maintenance of facilities align with changing ecological conditions and demands for recreation settings (Table 5). For winter recreation, recreation management can transition to shorter seasons and changing use patterns. Specifically, opportunities may exist to expand facilities where concentrated use increases, and options for snow-based recreation can be diversified to include more snow-making, additional ski lifts, and higher elevation runs. For warm-season recreation, a first step will be to conduct assessments to understand changing use patterns. Then, adjustments can be made to increase the capacity of recreation sites that are showing increased use (eg campgrounds).


Summary of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for recreation in the Rocky Mountains. (Table continued on next page.)



Communities in the rural American West rely on ecosystem services for necessities like water, recreation, and resource-based jobs. As climate change alters natural systems, more effort will be needed to protect the services provided by ecosystems. Adaptation will be critical in protecting ecosystem services and in meeting UN SDGs (UN 2015). The science–management partnership approach described here helped to facilitate the adaptation process in the Rocky Mountains. The process and outcomes will help to ensure that climate change is considered in future management of natural resources on federal lands in the Rocky Mountain region, thus helping to ensure sustainable development in the region (Table 6). Our approach can be applied in any location where there is sufficient engagement of scientists and local resource managers.


Contributions of the Northern Rockies and Intermountain Adaptation Partnerships to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 15 in the Rocky Mountain region.


Our efforts are particularly relevant for water resources (SDGs 6.6, 15.1), which are expected to experience near-term changes in a warmer climate, but for which good options are available to reduce potentially negative outcomes (Table 2). Climate change will likely increase stress on limited water resources in the Rocky Mountains, which are already stressed by increasing populations. The headwaters, which are the primary source of water in the region, are mostly on public lands. Thus, watershed health and resilience in these headwaters is critical in protecting water quantity and quality for large populations, and federal agencies will play a key role in helping to protect water in a changing climate. Restoring and sustaining hydrological processes is a primary strategy for protecting water resources under a changing climate.

Although increased temperatures and atmospheric concentration of CO2 have the potential to increase timber and forage production in the Rocky Mountains, those gains may be offset by wildfires, droughts, insect outbreaks, non-native species, and altered species composition (Littell et al 2013). Efforts to reduce negative outcomes of increased disturbance are relevant to SDG 15.4. Typical rates of return on livestock in the West are already as low as 2% (Holechek et al 1994), and private rangelands have become increasingly fragmented with land use change (Holechek 2001; Resnik et al 2006). Thus, climate change may render livestock operations unprofitable in the future. Rangeland managers often have limited financial resources and limited options to diversify livelihoods beyond livestock grazing, making the accelerated implementation of adaptation options critical (Briske et al 2015). Our assessment has identified ways in which federal land managers can help sustain forage productivity. For example, reducing introduction and spread of invasive species will be critical in sustaining productivity of rangelands in the future (relevant to SDG 15.8). Increasing communication between federal land managers and rangeland permittees will also help to ensure that sustainable grazing plans are developed.

Societal, economic, and policy changes have also affected timber on federal forests. Between 1998 and 2013, employment in the timber industry fell by a third in both the study area and throughout the United States (Warziniack et al 2017). These changes were driven by higher imports of wood products, declines in housing starts, changes in preferences for electronic media over paper, and growing emphasis on habitat preservation and amenity values of forests (Skog et al 2012; Weber and Chen 2012). Off-forest changes are likely to continue affecting on-forest harvest. However, to minimize negative effects of climate change, land managers can work to increase forest resilience in the near term, primarily by reducing dry forest density and increasing abundance of drought and disturbance resilient species (relevant to SDG 15.5). In the long term, species composition can be adjusted to promote diversity and sustain timber production.

While the “Old West” struggles, the “New West” is thriving in many Rocky Mountain communities, especially those with strong ties to recreation. Recreation spending in and near national forests and parks now exceeds revenue from timber in most parts of the western United States. This growth has led to a change in priorities for managers, from extractive commodities to leisure uses of the land. With changing climate, many of the demands for recreation may not match up with current management approaches for recreation in national forests and parks. Participants in the adaptation workshops repeatedly mentioned the need for recreation management systems that were more flexible, both for forest infrastructure like roads and trails and for concessionaire contracts that may not always align weather with peak demand from residents and tourists.

The effort described here highlighted the importance of federal lands in the Rocky Mountains in providing ecosystem services to society, and the ways in which federal land managers can adapt to the effects of changing climate. Federal agencies are now transitioning from the planning phase of climate change adaptation to implementation (Halofsky et al 2015), which will ensure that ecosystem services will continue to be provided from federal lands in a changing climate.


These projects were supported with funding from the US Forest Service Office of Sustainability and Climate. This is a contribution of the Western Mountain Initiative.


  1. Aston IW. 2010. Observed and Projected Ecological Response to Climate Change in the Rocky Mountains and Upper Columbia Basin: A Synthesis of Current Scientific Literature. Natural Resource Report NPS/ROMN/NPR-2010/220. Fort Collins, CO: National Park Service. Google Scholar

  2. Bachelet D, Lenihan JM, Daly C, Neilson RP, Ojima DS, Parton WJ. 2001. MC1: A Dynamic Vegetation Model for Estimating the Distribution of Vegetation and Associated Ecosystem Fluxes of Carbon, Nutrients, and Water: Technical Documentation Version 1.0. PNW-GTR-508. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Google Scholar

  3. Barbero R, Abatzoglou JT, Larkin NK, Kolden CA, Stocks B. 2015. Climate change presents increased potential for very large fires in the contiguous United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24(7):892–899. Google Scholar

  4. Benda L, Miller D, Bigelow P, Andras K. 2003. Effects of post-wildfire erosion on channel environments, Boise River, Idaho. Forest Ecology and Management 178(1):105–119. Google Scholar

  5. Bentz BJ, Régnière J, Fettig CJ, Hansen EM, Hayes JL, Hicke JA, Kelsey RG, Negrón JF, Seybold SJ. 2010. Climate change and bark beetles of the western United States and Canada: Direct and indirect effects. BioScience 60(8):602–613. Google Scholar

  6. Bowker JW, Askew AE, Cordell HK, Betz CJ, Zarnoch SJ, Seymour L. 2012. Outdoor Recreation Participation in the United States—Projections to 2060: A Technical Document Supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment. General Technical Report GTR-SRS-160. Asheville, NC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Google Scholar

  7. Bowker JM, Askew AE, Poudyal NC, Zarnoch SJ, Seymour L, Cordell HK. 2013. Climate change and outdoor recreation participation in the Southern United States. In: Vose JM, Klepzig KD, editors. Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Management Options: A Guide for Natural Resource Managers in Southern Forest Ecosystems. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Google Scholar

  8. Briske DD, Joyce LA, Polley HW, Brown JR, Wolter K, Morgan JA, McCarl BA, Bailey DW. 2015. Climate-change adaptation on rangelands: Linking regional exposure with diverse adaptive capacity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13(5):249–256. Google Scholar

  9. Chambers JC, Roundy BA, Blank RR, Meyer SE, Whittaker A. 2007. What makes Great Basin sagebrush ecosystems invasible by Bromus tectorum?Ecological Monographs 77(1):117–45. Google Scholar

  10. Coombs JS, Melack JM. 2013. The initial impacts of a wildfire on hydrology and suspended sediment and nutrient export in California chaparral watersheds. Hydrological Processes 27(26):3842–3851. Google Scholar

  11. Dymond CC, Sinclair T, Spittlehouse DL, Raymer B. 2014. Diversifying managed forests to increase resilience. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44(10):1196–1205. Scholar

  12. English D, Kocis S, Zarnoch S, Arnold RJ. 2001. Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring Process: Research Method Documentation. Athens, GA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Google Scholar

  13. Federal Register. 2012. 36 CFR Part 219. RIN 0596–AD02. National Forest System Land Management Planning, Final Rule and Record of Decision. 77(68):21162–21276. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Google Scholar

  14. Garcia-Gonzalo J, Peltola H, Briceño-Elizondo E, Kellomäki S. 2007. Effects of climate change and management on timber yield in boreal forests, with economic implications: A case study. Ecological Modelling 209:220–234. Google Scholar

  15. Groffman PM, Kareiva P, Carter S, Grimm NB, Lawler J, Mack M, Matzek V, Tallis H. 2014. Ecosystems, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. In: Melillo JM, Richmond TC, Yohe GW, editors. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. Washington, DC: US Global Change Research Program, pp 195–219. Google Scholar

  16. Halofsky JE, Peterson DL. 2016. Climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for forest vegetation management in the northwestern USA. Atmosphere7(3):46–[60]. Google Scholar

  17. Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, Marcinkowski KW. 2015. Climate Change Adaptation in United States Federal Natural Resource Science and Management Agencies: A Synthesis. Washington, DC: US Global Change Research Program.; accessed on 24 June 2016. Google Scholar

  18. Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, Prendeville HR. 2017. Assessing vulnerabilities and adapting to climate change in northwestern US forests. Climatic Change1–14. Scholar

  19. Hand MS, Lawson M. 2017. Effects of climate change on recreation in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 169–188. Google Scholar

  20. Holechek JL. 2001. Western ranching at the crossroads. Rangelands 23(1):17–21. Google Scholar

  21. Holechek JL, Tembo A, Daniel A, Fusco MJ, Cardenas M. 1994. Long-term grazing influences on Chihuahuan Desert rangeland. Southwestern Naturalist 39(4):342–349. Google Scholar

  22. Irland LC, Adams D, Alig R, Betz CJ, Chen CC, Hutchins M, McCarl BA, Skog K, Sohngen BL. 2001. Assessing socioeconomic impacts of climate change on US forests, wood-product markets, and forest recreation. BioScience 51(9):753–764. Google Scholar

  23. Isaak DJ, Young MK, Luce CH, Hostetler SW, Wenger SJ, Peterson EE, Ver Hoef JM, Groce MC, Horan DL, Nagel DE. 2016. Slow climate velocities of mountain streams portend their role as refugia for cold-water biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016):4374–4379. Google Scholar

  24. Izaurralde RC, Thomson AM, Morgan JA, Fay PA, Polley HW, Hatfield JL. 2011. Climate impacts on agriculture: Implications for forage and rangeland production. Agronomy Journal 103(2):371–381. Google Scholar

  25. Jarvis J. 2011. A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Management. Washington, DC: US Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Google Scholar

  26. Jones R, Travers C, Rodgers C, Lazar B, English E, Lipton J, Vogel J, Strzepek K, Martinich J. 2013. Climate change impacts on freshwater recreational fishing in the United States. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 18(6):731–758. Google Scholar

  27. Joyce LA, Talbert M, Sharp D, Stevenson J. 2017. Historical and projected climate in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 17–23. Google Scholar

  28. Karl TR, Melillo JM, Peterson TC, editors.2009. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

  29. Keane RE, Mahalovich MF, Bollenbacher BL, Manning ME, Loehman RA, Jain TB, Holsinger LM, Larson AJ. 2017. Effects of climate change on forest vegetation in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 59–95. Google Scholar

  30. Liang X, Lettenmaier DP, Wood EF, Burges SJ. 1994. A simple hydrologically based model of land surface water and energy fluxes for general circulation models. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 99(D7):14415–14428. Google Scholar

  31. Lin D, Xia J, Wan S. 2010. Climate warming and biomass accumulation of terrestrial plants: A meta-analysis. New Phytologist 188(1):187–198. Google Scholar

  32. Littell JS, Hicke JA, Shafer SL, Capalbo SM, Houston LL, Glick P. 2013. Forest ecosystems: vegetation, disturbance, and economics. In: Dalton MM, Mote PW, Snover AK, editors. Climate Change in the Northwest: Implications for Our Landscapes, Waters, and Communities. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp 110–148. Google Scholar

  33. Littell JS, Peterson DL, Riley KL, Liu Y, Luce CH. 2016. A review of the relationships between drought and forest fire in the United States. Global Change Biology 22(7): 2353–2369. Scholar

  34. Loehman RA, Bentz BJ, DeNitto GA, Keane RE, Manning ME, Duncan JP, Egan JM, Jackson MB, Kegley S, Lockman IB, Pearson DE, Powell JA, Shelly S, Steed BE, Zambino PJ. 2017. Effects of climate change on ecological disturbance in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 115–141. Google Scholar

  35. Loomis J, Crespi J. 2004. Estimated effects of climate change on selected outdoor recreation activities in the United States. In: Mendelsohn R, Neumann J, editors. The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp 289–314. Google Scholar

  36. Luce, CH. 2017. Effects of climate change on snowpack, glaciers, and water resources in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 25–36. Google Scholar

  37. Luce CH, Holden ZA. 2009. Declining annual streamflow distributions in the Pacific Northwest United States, 1948–2006. Geophysical Research Letters 36: L16401. Google Scholar

  38. Luce CH, Lopez-Burgos V, Holden Z. 2014. Sensitivity of snowpack storage to precipitation and temperature using spatial and temporal analog models. Water Resources Research 50(12):9447–9462. Google Scholar

  39. Maurer EP, Brekke L, Pruitt T, Duffy PB. 2007. Fine-resolution climate projections enhance regional climate change impact studies. Eos Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 88(47):504. Google Scholar

  40. McIver CP, Sorenson CB, Keegan CE, Morgan TA, Menlove J. 2013. Montana's Forest Products Industry and Timber Harvest 2009. Resource Bulletin RMRS-RB-16. Fort Collins, CO: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Google Scholar

  41. Mendelsohn R, Markowski M. 2004. The impact of climate change on outdoor recreation. In: Mendelsohn R, Neumann J, editors. The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp 267–288. Google Scholar

  42. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being. Washington, DC: Island Press. Google Scholar

  43. Montoya J, Raffaelli D. 2010. Climate change, biotic interactions and ecosystem services. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 365(1549):2013–2018. Google Scholar

  44. Mooney H, Larigauderie A, Cesario M, Elmquist T, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Lavorel S, Mace GM, Palmer M, Scholes R, Yahara T. 2009. Biodiversity, climate change and ecosystem services. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 1:46–54. Google Scholar

  45. Office of the President of the United States. 2015. Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Federal Decision Making. MemorandumM-16-01.; accessed on 16 May 2016. Google Scholar

  46. Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE, editors.2007. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Working group II contribution to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Vol 4). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

  47. Polley HW, Briske DD, Morgan JA, Wolter K, Bailey DW, Brown JR. 2013. Climate change and North American rangelands: Trends, projections, and implications. Rangeland Ecology and Management 66(5):493–511. Google Scholar

  48. Reeves MC, Manning ME, DiBenedetto JP, Palmquist KA, Lauenroth WK, Bradford JB, Schlaepfer DR. 2017. Effects of climate change on rangeland vegetation in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 97–114. Google Scholar

  49. Reeves M, Moreno A, Bagne K, Running SW. 2014. Estimating the effects of climate change on net primary production of US rangelands. Climatic Change 126(3–4):429–442. Google Scholar

  50. Resnik J, Wallace G, Brunson M, Mitchell J. 2006. Open spaces, working places. Rangelands 28(5):4–9. Google Scholar

  51. Rocca ME, Brown PM, MacDonald LH, Carrico CM. 2014. Climate change impacts on fire regimes and key ecosystem services in Rocky Mountain forests. Forest Ecology and Management 327:290–305. Google Scholar

  52. Scott D, Jones B, Konopek J. 2007. Implications of climate and environmental change for nature-based tourism in the Canadian Rocky Mountains: A case study of Waterton Lakes National Park. Tourism Management 28(2):570–579. Google Scholar

  53. Seidl R, Spies TA, Peterson DL, Stephens SL, Hicke JA. 2016. Searching for resilience: Addressing the impacts of changing disturbance regimes on forest ecosystem services. Journal of Applied Ecology 53:120–129. Google Scholar

  54. Skog KE, McKeever DB, Ince PJ, Howard JL, Spelter HN, Schuler AT. 2012. Status and Trends for the U.S Forest Products Sector: A Technical Document Supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA Assessment. General Technical Report FPL-GTR-207. Madison, WI: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. Google Scholar

  55. Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor MMB, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM, editors.Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar

  56. Swanston C, Janowiak M, editors.2012. Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers. General Technical Report NRS-87. Newtown Square, PA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. Google Scholar

  57. UN [United Nations]. 2015. Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: A/RES/70/1. New York, NY: United Nations. Google Scholar

  58. UN [United Nations]. 2017. Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals to Transform our World.; accessed on 26 July 2017. Google Scholar

  59. US GAO [US Government Accountability Office]. 2005. Livestock Grazing: Federal Expenditures and Receipts Vary, Depending on the Agency and the Purpose of the Fee Charged. GAO-05-869. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office. Google Scholar

  60. van Vuuren DP, Edmonds J, Kainuma M, Riahi K, Thomson A, Hibbard K, Hurtt GC, Kram T, Krey V, Lamarque JF, Masui T. 2011. The representative concentration pathways: An overview. Climatic Change 109(2011):5–31. Google Scholar

  61. Vose JM, Clark JS, Luce CH, Patel-Weynand T, editors.2016. Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. General Technical Report WO-93b. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington Office. Google Scholar

  62. Warziniack T, Lawson M, Dante-Wood SK. 2017. Effects of climate change on ecosystem services in the Northern Rockies. In: Halofsky JE, Peterson DL, editors. Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research, Volume 63. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp 189–208. Google Scholar

  63. Weber B, Chen Y. 2012. Federal forest policy and community prosperity in the Pacific Northwest. Choices. Quarter 1.; accessed on 20 June 2016. Google Scholar

  64. Westerling AL, Hidalgo HG, Cayan DR, Swetnam TW. 2006. Warming and earlier spring increase western US forest wildfire activity. Science 313(5789):940–943. Google Scholar

© 2017 Halofsky et al. This open access article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( Please credit the authors and the full source.
Jessica E. Halofsky, Travis W. Warziniack, David L. Peterson, and Joanne J. Ho "Understanding and Managing the Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystem Services in the Rocky Mountains," Mountain Research and Development 37(3), 340-352, (1 August 2017).
Received: 1 June 2017; Accepted: 1 July 2017; Published: 1 August 2017

Back to Top