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Welcome! The Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool is designed to inspire local action to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources in a changing climate. With this tool, you can:

  1. access information on climate change impacts and vulnerability of species and habitats, as well as
  2. explore adaptation strategies and actions based on your location and interests to help maintain healthy, resilient natural resources and communities.

Navigating through the Tool

See some helpful search instructions here.

Tutorial Videos



Important Terms

  • Climate - the difference between weather and climate is all about scale, particularly time and space. Weather is how the atmosphere behaves over the short-term (minutes to days), while climate represents long-term (years to centuries), global-scale processes.
  • Climate Change Adaptation - the process of preparing for and responding to current and future impacts of climate change, and reducing related vulnerabilities (modified from IPCC)

  • Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVAs) - a method used to identify the species, habitats, or ecosystems that are most likely to be negatively affected by climate change. CCVAs often consider how climate change might interact with or intensify ongoing non-climate stressors (such as invasive pests or disease). The process of a CCVA involves 1) identifying vulnerability factors, or aspects of climate change that may affect the species or system, and then 2) assigning a vulnerability ranking and confidence score, based on the best available information and climate data. Relative vulnerability can then be compared among the species or systems evaluated. The results can help users consider the problems most likely to arise, and offer a way to prioritize management and policy decisions. Read more about Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments.

    • Ranking - categories in a CCVA that tell the user how vulnerable that species or systems is to climate change (i.e., how severe the impacts of climate change might be)
    • Confidence - categories in a CCVA that tell the user how confident the assessor was in: the information available about that species or system and the vulnerability ranking assigned

    • Vulnerability Factors - stressors that may impact a species or system (may be related to climate change, or could be a non-climate stressor, such as habitat fragmentation or pests)
  • Climate scenario - describe the average characteristics of a possible future climate (e.g. hotter and drier)

  • Emissions scenario - describe future releases of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and other pollutants into the atmosphere, and are based on expected changes in human populations and technology

  • Resilience- the capacity to cope with disturbance by responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain essential function, identity, and structure, as well as maintain the capacity for adaptation and transformation (modified from IPCC)

  • Restoration - the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed (from the Society of Ecological Restoration)

See the Glossary for additional definitions of important terms.

Additional climate change information can be found in our Learning About Climate Change page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How were the species in this tool chosen?

The fish and wildlife selected for this tool include species of regional conservation need, as well as game and other abundant wildlife. These species cover a range of habitats and taxonomy and are of particular interest to managers and the public in Massachusetts. Species presented do not necessarily represent those most vulnerable to climate change impacts, although climate may affect them in many different ways. If there are other species you feel should be included in the future, please let us know

How do I interpret the Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments?

We present multiple Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) results because not all species were assessed specifically in Massachusetts. For example, an assessment may have included Massachusetts, but been regional in scope. Because species' ranges and life histories extend beyond state boundaries, assessments conducted in other areas may provide a more comprehensive understanding of their vulnerability. We suggest starting with CCVAs that include Massachusetts (e.g., North Atlantic LCC, North Atlantic coast), and then comparing results from nearby states. We also suggest considering the life history and migration patterns of species to determine what factors might be most influential as the species moves in or out of Massachusetts. In some cases, CCVA rankings may vary for the same species because of unique factors within a given area, or because different methodologies were used in different studies. It is important to read the expert opinions supporting ranking to understand why a ranking differs from one state to another. Read more about Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments.

What are the Goals referenced in Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and Actions?

Climate change adaptation requires thinking over multiple time and geographic scales to sustain fish, wildlife and their habitats. Because climate change adaptation is an emerging field and developing rapidly, there are many lessons to be shared as action is taken both locally and nationally. To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of adaptation efforts, it is useful to consider local actions in a broader context. Therefore, in this tool, adaptation strategies and actions are presented within the context of the national goals of the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (NFWPCAS) as well as forestry-specific goals developed by a collaborative team of experts.



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