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A National Approach for Mapping and Quantifying Habitat-based Biodiversity Metrics Across Multiple Spatial Scales
Boykin, K., W. Kepner, D. Bradford, R. Guy, D. Kopp, A. Leimer, E. Samson, F. East, A. Neale, AND K. Gergely. A National Approach for Mapping and Quantifying Habitat-based Biodiversity Metrics Across Multiple Spatial Scales . K. Boykin (ed.), ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS. Elsevier Science Ltd, New York, NY, 33(0):139-147, (2013).
The discussion for formal maintenance and conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity) was first organized in a cohesive fashion by the United Nations Environment Programme in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. A year following, 168 countries signed the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD),SUP>1 to protect and ensure conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The CBD recognized that the Earth?s biological resources are essential to human well-being and economic and social development and thus constitute a global asset of crucial value to both present and future generations (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 2005). More recently the United Nations Secretary-General initiated and completed the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems. The assessment provided a reaffirmation that sustainable societies are dependent on the goods and services provided by ecosystems, including clean air and water, productive soils, and the production of food and fiber and more importantly, it provided a new paradigm (i.e., ecosystem services) upon which to assess and value biotic resources throughout the world (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Farber et al., 2006). Ecosystem services have been defined in a variety of ways; however, in the end they reflect the basic outputs of ecological function or process that directly or indirectly contribute to human well-being, economy, health, and a sense of security. The central premise of the ecosystem services framework is that all forms of life on earth (i.e., biodiversity) provide the core benefits that humans derive from their environment and thus are responsible for sustaining human culture throughout the world.
Ecosystem services, i.e., "services provided to humans from natural systems," have become a key issue of this century in resource management, conservation planning, and environmental decision analysis. Mapping and quantifying ecosystem services have become strategic national interests for integrating ecology with economics to help understand the effects of human policies and actions and their subsequent impacts on both ecosystem function and human well-being. Some characteristics of biodiversity are valued by humans in varied ways, and thus are important to include in any assessment that seeks to identify and quantify the benefits of ecosystems to humans. Some biodiversity metrics clearly reflect ecosystem services (e.g., abundance and diversity of game species), whereas others reflect indirect and difficult to quantify relationships to services (e.g., relevance of species diversity to ecosystem resilience, cultural value of native species). Wildlife habitat has been modeled at broad spatial scales and can be used to map a number of biodiversity metrics. In the present study, we map 20 metrics reflecting ecosystem services or biodiversity features derived from US Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program data for land cover and habitat models for terrestrial vertebrate species (i.e., amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles). Metrics include species richness for all vertebrates, specific taxon groups, harvestable species (i.e., upland game, waterfowl, furbearers, small game, and big game), threatened and endangered species, state-designated species of greatest conservation need, and ecosystem (i.e., land cover) diversity. The project is being conducted at multiple scales in a phased approach, starting with place-based studies, then multi-state regional areas, culminating into a national-level atlas. As an example of this incremental approach, we provide results for the southwestern United States (i.e., states of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado) and portions of two watersheds within this region: the San Pedro River (Arizona) and Rio Grande River (New Mexico). Geographic patterns differed considerably among metrics across the southwestern study area, but metric values for the two watershed study areas were generally greater than those for the southwestern region as a whole.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIVISION
LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY BRANCH