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Tuesday, January 30 • 11:00am - 11:20am
SYMPOSIA-09: An Uncertain Climate for Deer Wintering Complexes: Scenario Planning for Complex Adaptive Systems

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AUTHORS. Christopher L. Hoving, Michigan DNR and Michigan State University; William F. Porter, Michigan State University; Pat Lederle, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT. Global change adds complexity to wildlife research. Old assumptions of linear causality and closed systems no longer apply. Tools informed by complex adaptive systems show promise in modeling local wildlife management problems in the context of global change. We highlight scenario methods as one such tool and provide a case study of its use. In northern Michigan, migratory deer depend on landscapes with a significant mature conifer component to provide cover during cold and snowy winters. Conserving these landscapes is a priority for the Michigan DNR, but that conservation is complicated by global change. The conifer component of these forests may or may not persist, and deer may or may not continue to migrate and need winter conifer cover. Managers are unsure how to plan wisely amidst such uncertainty and complexity. Complex adaptive systems is a potential paradigm that researchers can use to frame studies of wildlife in the context of global change.  A complex adaptive system can be understood as self-organizing and composed of heterogeneous interacting agents, which gives the system the ability to adapt. An ant colony, a living organism, a city, or an ecosystem can be understood as a complex adaptive system. Because complex adaptive systems have contingent histories, they have inherently uncertain futures. Thus, scenario methods are often used to better understand complex adaptive systems. We used a scenario planning exercise to inform managers about plausible potential futures of deer and winter habitat in northern Michigan. The most uncertain drivers were temperature change and economic demand for conifer timber products. From these uncertainties we developed narrative descriptions of four plausible yet distinct futures. These plausible futures can be used to plan habitat management that is robust to multiple future conditions.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am