Developing adaptation pathways for albatross (or other species)

The concept of Adaptation Pathways emphasizes the importance of both decision timing and decision context. Adaptation is framed as the evolution over time of the decision contexts that enable and constrain adaptation decisions. Instead of seeing pathways as only a sequence of decisions, the Adaptation Pathways concept helps people view adaptation in terms of the evolution of systems of societal values, institutional rules, and knowledge. This helps broaden the perspective on adaptation away from inappropriately narrow framings of decision problems and to understand the importance of uncertainty and learning as integral parts of the adaptation process, and will help deliver future-proof conservation. Read more about the work on Adaptation Pathways here.

Testing of some adaptation options has begun, yet the albatross population responses will take some time to become measurable. In the meantime, we can test the potential effectiveness of the options using population models, and use these models to explore options with conservation managers. We have developed an age-, stage-, and sex-structured model of the shy albatross population that includes non-climate stressors (such as fisheries bycatch) and environmental variation (rainfall, sea surface height, and air temperature). The model has been parameterised to fit observations of key demographic data, such as the annual number of breeding pairs, survival rates and breeding success. This has allowed relationships to be established with environmental factors that can then be projected into the future under various climate change scenarios and alternative adaptation options. Potential adaptation options include building wind breaks, translocations, building artificial nests, reducing disease and reducing bycatch from fisheries. Each option will vary in its magnitude of benefit and act upon different components of the population demographics (through one or more of chick, juvenile or adult survival, and breeding success). We show how the model is able to estimate the degree to which each of these options improves population status. In some cases combinations of options are necessary to provide satisfactory population rebuilding. Such modelling approach can assist managers when faced with making difficult decisions regarding the sustainability of species threatened by climate change, and allow development of sequences of adaptation options – adaptation pathways.

Decision-support tools to help managers evaluation intervention options can be explored with this tool.