I am the Great Lakes Climate Change Ecologist for TNC, and am based in The Michigan Field office in Lansing, Michigan. My work focuses on assessing climate change impacts, and working with TNC’s Great Lakes Project staff (a collaboration of state chapters around the Great Lakes), and partners to update our conservation strategies and priorities so that our efforts are efficient, effective, and promote protection and restoration of natural systems that are able to adapt to changes in climate. Prior to joining TNC in 2008, I received my Master’s and PhD from the University of Michigan, and conducted research focused on understanding connections between forest conditions and habitat quality for migratory songbirds in northern forests.
The Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes Project works with partners to restore and maintain the Great Lakes system, with the goal of protecting biodiversity, and sustaining the societal benefits that these systems provide, including drinking water for 40 million people. As part of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy team I work with other TNC staff and partners to ensure that our actions and strategies for attaining this goal are designed, prioritized, implemented, and monitored in “climate smart” ways. Our approach focuses on providing information to practitioners and decision-makers across the basin in ways that help empower, motivate, and catalyze cooperative actions that will enhance the adaptive capacity of the ecological systems, and people, of the region. Key activities include (1) synthesizing climate change impact and vulnerability information, and integrating it into our work and sharing with partners; (2) getting to know the needs of our partners by administering a survey on impacts and adaptation in our region that was completed by almost 500 practitioners; (3) sharing what we learn by developing in-depth case studies that describe the logic behind how our projects and processes are being updated; (4) connecting people with each other and key resources in “climate clinics”; and (5) engagement in knowledge, tool, and guidance development, including the Climate Adaptation Collaboratory (in partnership with the University of Notre Dame).
My work also extends beyond TNC’s work in the Great Lakes – for example, I was invited to write the “Biodiversity and Ecosystems” technical document for the Midwest Chapter of the ongoing National Climate Assessment, and have a biodiversity-focused chapter in a recent book on climate change in this region. I have also contributed to NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index, and to updates of TNC’s guidance on how to conduct regional-scale conservation planning, and am part of a group organized by the National Wildlife Federation to develop guidance on best practices in climate change adaptation.