Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
Dr. Hocking is working with collaborators at UMass, USGS, and USFS to model climate change effects on brook trout and stream salamanders. We are using hierarchical Bayesian models to estimate abundance, occupancy, growth, survival, and recruitment while accounting for imperfect detection probabilities. We are also partitioning model uncertainty to help inform Structured Decision Models for managers and policymakers to develop evidence-based plans. You can find more information on the SDM portion of the project here and here and some press here). Our Spatial Hydro-Ecological Decision Support system (SHEDS) related to this project is under development at www.ecosheds.org.
Visit our webpage (http://streamfishmodeling.weebly.com/) for more information on some of our collaborative stream fish modeling.
Collaborators: Bill Peterman, John Crawford, & Joe Milanovich. Models using habitat suitability and climate projections suggest that many salamanders through the southern Appalachian Mountains will experience significant declines over the next century. High elevation endemics are expected to be especially susceptible to climate warming. High elevation species can’t shift their entire distribution higher, so if the lower extent of their distribution moves higher, they lose a large area in these range contractions. We are studying the elevational distributions of Plethodontid salamanders in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We are also comparing these findings with historic presence-only data from museum specimens to understand how distributions have changed over time.
Here is a great video on Appalachian salamanders: http://vimeo.com/23474410. Most people don’t realize that the southern Appalachian mountains host the greatest diversity of salamanders of anywhere on the planet. The southern Appalachians are like the coral reefs of salamander biodiversity!