Spatial Prioritization of Hawaii’s Stream Ecosystems for Native Species Conservation in the Context of Changing Climate

, University of Missouri | Author(s): Ralph Tingley, Dana Infante, Gordon Smith, Arthur Cooper, Kyle Herreman

In 2016, Michigan State University and the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership (HFHP) partnered to develop a state-wide prioritization approach to inform the selection of focus watersheds for conservation action given future changes in climate. Using the planning software Zonation, we integrated products developed by the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP), including an ecological stream classification and the 2015 Habitat Condition Index, and downscaled projected climate data to identify reaches that will retain, gain or lose conservation value at two future time-periods under two climate scenarios. Our results indicate that areas of high conservation value occur across all five of the largest Hawaiian Islands at both mid and late-century time-periods. Despite projected changes in rainfall, many regions that currently support streams of high value for conservation will likely continue to do so in the future. Comparisons of future conservation value rankings with rankings of current conservation value indicate that leeward perennial streams may lose value due to reductions in average dry season and annual rainfall, highlighting the importance of retaining or increasing baseflow through restoration action in these systems. When paired with local knowledge, our results can be used to prioritize conservation action in the context of changing climate.