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Mapping and Quantifying Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Related to Terrestrial Vertebrates: A National Approach
Boykin, K., W. Kepner, A. Neale, AND K. Gergely. Mapping and Quantifying Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Related to Terrestrial Vertebrates: A National Approach. Pecora 20: Observing a Changing Earth, Sioux Falls, SD, November 13 - 16, 2017.
Presentation on an innovative national system that uses deductive habitat models to measure and map terrestrial vertebrate diversity for the conterminous U.S.
Biodiversity is crucial for the functioning of ecosystems and the products and services from which we transform natural assets of the Earth for human survival, security, and well-being. The ability to assess, report, map, and forecast the life support functions of ecosystems is absolutely critical to our capacity to make informed decisions to maintain the sustainable nature of our environment now and into the future. Because of the variability among living organisms and levels of organization (e.g. genetic, species, ecosystem), biodiversity has always been difficult to measure precisely, especially in a systematic manner and over multiple scales. In answer to this challenge, we have developed an approach that uses deductive habitat models for all the terrestrial vertebrates of the conterminous United States and clusters them into biodiversity metrics that relate to ecosystem service-relevant categories that reflect elements of A) Biodiversity Conservation; B) Food, Fiber, and Materials; and C) Recreation, Culture, and Aesthetics. Several metrics, such as harvestable species (big game, small game, furbearers, and waterfowl) richness, have been developed down to the 30m scale of resolution. Collectively, these provide a consistent scalable process from which to make geographic comparisons, provide thematic assessments, and to monitor status and trends in biodiversity. Currently, we include 1590 terrestrial vertebrate species (621 bird spp., 365 mammal spp., 322 reptile spp., and 282 amphibian spp.). As example, we provide selected results for the conterminous U.S. along with sub-national areas of interest to demonstrate the multi-scale utility of the approach. In these examples, geographic patterns differed among metrics and across the study areas. Additionally, we have created a dynamic element to the system to allow the exploration and addition of other metrics as they become identified and tested.