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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Assessing and Monitoring of Biodeversity Metrics at Multiple Scales in the Southwest to Support the Conservation Effects Assessment Project

Location: Southwest Watershed Research

2013 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Utilize landscape scale models of predicted species habitats and land cover to assess biodiversity at multiple scales. Over finer scales the objective is to quantify the effects of conservation practices on terrestrial vertebrate wildlife resources for a selected set of high-priority species for use in the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

1b.Approach (from AD-416):
1) Identification of metrics representing biodiversity using species distribution models;.
2)Develop a process to identify metrics for a biodiversity assessment in context with ecological surroundings nationally;.
3)Identification of species at risk and prioritization of species based on conservation practices of interest;.
4)A process to link landscape level assessments to site specific actions using a risk assessment protocol;.
5)A prototype spatial analysis tool for selected species habitat models and change to provide support for NRCS planning and field office personnel.

3.Progress Report:

This project contributes to objective 2 of the in-house project, "Develop decision tools including a rangeland specific hydrology and erosion model for improved planning and evaluation of rangeland management practices". A pilot project area was identified in New Mexico that involved multiple stakeholders and land management agencies. During the previous year, a series of biodiversity metrics were developed based species habitat models derived from the Southwest Gap Analysis Program. Stakeholder meetings were conducted to rank:.
1)Biodiversity metrics;.
2)Species of interest; and,.
3)Primary management and conservation practices. The past year originally was focused on identifying the top 10 to 15 species of interest and the top 3 to 5 conservation practices for use in further analysis and modeling. Landscape analysis is completed and a manuscript is in preparation, identifying species that are unique to the ecological context of the study area. Funding changes refocused effort towards one species (scaled quail,Callipepla squamata). A systems dynamic model is in preparation to identify conservation practice effects on scaled quail populations based on literature and future practice scenarios. The analysis will quantify the potential effects of conservation practices on scaled quail (and additional terrestrial vertebrate wildlife with additional funding) for use in the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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