Mapping and Quantifying Terrestrial Vertebrate Biodiversity at a National Scale
Kepner, W., K. Boykin, A. Neale, AND K. Gergely. Mapping and Quantifying Terrestrial Vertebrate Biodiversity at a National Scale. JAM of AZ-NM American Fisheries and Wildlife Societies, Farmington, NM, February 09 - 11, 2017.
Presentation on an innovative national system that uses deductive habitat models to measure and map terrestrial vertebrate diversity (1,787 species) for the conterminous U.S.
The ability to assess, report, map, and forecast functions of ecosystems is critical to our capacity to make informed decisions to maintain the sustainable nature of our environment. 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 within a systematic manner and over multiple scales. In answer to this challenge, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created a partnership with other Federal agencies, academic institutions, and Non-Governmental Organizations to develop the EnviroAtlas (https://www.epa.gov/enviroatlas), an online national Decision Support Tool that allows users to view and analyze the geographical description of the supply and demand for ecosystem services, as well as the drivers of change. As part of the EnviroAtlas, an approach has been developed that uses deductive habitat models for all terrestrial vertebrates of the conterminous United States and clusters them into biodiversity metrics that relate to ecosystem service-relevant categories. Metrics, such as species and taxon richness, have been developed and integrated with other measures of biodiversity. Collectively, these metrics provide a consistent scalable process from which to make geographic comparisons, provide thematic assessments, and to monitor status and trends in biodiversity. The national biodiversity component operates across approximately 89,000 12-digit HUCs and includes over 1700 terrestrial vertebrate species. As an example of this incremental approach, we provide selected results for the contiguous United States along with sub-national areas of interest to demonstrate the multi-scale utility of the system.