Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sparks, Eric

Committee Member

Denny, Marina D.

Committee Member

Daigle, Melissa T.

Committee Member

Sempier, Tracie T.

Committee Member

Woodrey, Mark S.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Climate change-related hazards negatively impact ecosystems, economies, and quality of life. Significant resources have been invested in data collection and research with the goal of enhanced understanding and capacity to predict future conditions in order to mitigate or adapt to intensifying hazard risk. The expansive production of climate science has generated a necessary complimentary enterprise dedicated to enhancing decision-makers’ understanding of and access to climate science as it is essential for future societal and ecological well-being. Though the aim of these many tools is to support resilient decision-making in the face of climate change, professionals report an underutilization of climate resilience tools. It has been suggested that stakeholder engagement during climate resilience tool development will improve the rates of use; however, there have been no studies to explore if the findings from tool diffusion and adoption studies in other sectors translate to climate resilience tools. An end-user engagement process for the development of a climate resilience tool was established and implemented. The process itself and the outcomes of the process, in this case an online climate decision-support tool called Gulf TREE (, were studied. Findings included documenting that end-user engagement during climate resilience tool development, while more costly and time intensive, does lead to increased rates of diffusion and adoption of a climate resilience tool through both direct and indirect means. This work demonstrated that pre-development engagement to scope tool development is critical for maximizing relative benefit of a climate resilience tool. Additionally, all phases of engagement are necessary for both a useable and useful tool because each phase contributes to different attributes of the tool. Further research areas identified include understanding how much and what kind of stakeholder engagement is necessary to support continued diffusion and adoption after a tool is released, the role that mandates in climate resilience has on the adoption and diffusion of climate resilience tools, and how to define if a climate resilience tool has been successful.