Adaptation in the Face of Climate Change: When Resistance is Futile - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128157473

Adaptation in the Face of Climate Change: When Resistance is Futile

1st Edition

Stewarding Ecological Transformation in the Anthropocene

Authors: John Morton
Paperback ISBN: 9780128157473
Imprint: Elsevier
Published Date: 1st December 2019
Page Count: 210
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Adaptation in the Face of Climate Change: When Resistance Is Futile: Stewarding Ecological Transformation in the Anthropocene demonstrates climate change adaptation strategies that step beyond conventional land and species management. Current conservative approaches are too timid to address likely ecological outcomes of climate emission scenarios that have already been exceeded and are inadequate to ameliorate the 6th extinction. This book closely examines the commonalities and differences among three locations, spanning from Maryland, the Pacific Islands and Alaska, to highlight the idea that there are no optimal choices in a world of non-analog futures and disequilibrium, only reasonable ones that accommodate continual change.

Based on real-world considerations, the book discusses the implementation of adaptation strategies in the face of political obstacles. This book is essential to anyone interested in effective climate change adaptation, including Environmental Planners, Ecologists, Geographers and Biologists.

Key Features

  • Features real world cases of successful adaptation to climate change across diverse ecosystems and species, including animal ecology, forest and coastal ecosystems
  • Includes data on climate change and how its impact on the environment has been incorporated in each example
  • Provides an understanding of the types of sociopolitical constraints environmental managers face, with true examples on how to successfully navigate them in order create positive environmental impacts


Environmental managers, natural resource managers, ecologists, biologists, geographers, environmental planners, urban planners, environmental policy makers; Secondary audience of anyone engaged in Climate Change Adaptation

Table of Contents

I. Prologue

II. Introduction
a. Experiences which led me to embrace a different approach to conservation in a world in which man is the primary ecological driver
What the Anthropocene Portends (making the case to do something drastically different)
b. IPCC forecasts
c. 6th extinction

III. Prospective Adaptation: When Resistance is Futile
a. Review of adaptation to date in the U.S. (Primary author = Tracy Melvin, doctoral student, Michigan State University)
b. What’s needed: Rewilding/rambunctious garden/ wilderness stewardship (Primary author = Dr. Dawn Magness, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS)

IV. Case Study 1 (animals): Translocating endemic birds to novel islands in the Pacific (Primary author = Fred Amidon, Pacific Islands Fish & Wildlife Field Office, USFWS)
a. moving common endemic species (not ESA listed) to uninhabited islands in the Northern Marianas to escape invasives and protect against changing cyclonic regime
b. Conceptual plans for moving endangered Hawaiian avifauna to the Big Island to allow colonization along an elevational gradient

V. Case Study 2 (plants): Facilitating ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska (Primary author = Dr. John Morton, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, USFWS)
a. Reforestation or deforestation in response to an unprecedented spruce bark beetle epidemic and human-caused fires

VI. Case Study 3 (landscape): Strategic retreat from rising seas on the mid-Atlantic coast (PI = Dr. Court Stevenson, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland)
a. Allowing a tidal marsh in Southern Dorchester County, Maryland to retreat in response to increasing hurricane surges and saltwater intrusion (aka managing for diving ducks instead of dabbling duck)
b. Allowing Assateague Island, a barrier island, to retreat in response to increasing sea-level rise and coastal erosion

VII. Synthesis of the 3 case studies (Morton et al.)
a. What’s in common and what’s unique

VIII. Moving forward: What’s needed and who’s going to do it
a. Recognition and acceptance of how bad it’s going to be
b. Balancing social needs in an ecological framework
c. Inadequate institutional framework for continental-scale adaptation
d. Networked local adaptation


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© Elsevier 2020
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About the Author

John Morton

Dr John Morton earned his PhD in Wildlife Ecology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He has authored more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and mentored several graduate students and dozens of interns. He has been a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 3 decades, working previously in the Mariana Islands, Maryland, Wisconsin, California and stints at Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Yukon Delta NWR in Alaska. He's been the supervisory biologist at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge since 2002, where he and his staff have been very involved in climate change research and adaptation. He represented the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) investigation of climate change impacts on Federal lands (2006) and on the DOI’s Climate Change Task Force (2007). He served on teams that developed the USFWS strategic plan for responding to climate change (2010) and the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy (2011). He co-led an interagency team that produced Connecting Alaska Landscapes into the Future (2010), an early project of the Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning. Most recently, Morton helped develop the interagency Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai Peninsula (2017). Current interests include climate change adaptation, inventory and monitoring design, and effects of human disturbance on wildlife.

Affiliations and Expertise

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, US Fish and Wildlife Service

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