The overall purpose of this project (known colloquially as the Designing Sustainable Landscapes project, or DSL for short) is to assess the capability of current and potential future landscapes within the extent of the Northeast (13 states) to provide integral ecosystems and suitable habitat for a suite of focal (e.g., representative) species, and provide guidance for strategic habitat conservation. To meet this goal, we are developing a Landscape Change, Assessment and Design (LCAD) model, as described in the documents below. This project is largely supported by the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC), with additional support from the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC).
Phase one of this project, which began in December 2010 and was completed June 2012, focused on developing the overall modeling framework for simulating landscape change and assessing the ecological consequences of those changes (i.e., landscape change and assessment), and piloting the model in three study landscapes: 1) Kennebec River watershed in Maine, 2) middle Connecticut River watershed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and 3) combined Pocomoke and Nanticoke River watersheds in Maryland and Deleware.
Phase two of this project, which began in July 2012 and will continue through June 2014, will focus on extending the landscape modeling to the entire Northeast (13 states), modeling an additional 20 representative species, expanding the ecological integrity assessment, coupling the landscape change model with a third party sea level rise model, improving the vegetation succession modeling, and developing an approach for integrating the results of the landscape change assessment into decision support for landscape design.
This project website provides links to recent presentations, results of phase 1 including a report and accompanying data for each of the pilot watersheds, detailed working technical documentation, and an online manager survey to provide feedback.
- Seminar presentation -- This is a link to a one-hour webinar presentation (speaker K. McGarigal) overviewing the DSL project given as part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 5 (Northeast) 2012 Science Seminar Series held on February 23 at 12:00-1:00 pm in the Northeast Region office, Hadley Massachusetts.
- Symposium presentation on urban growth model -- This is a link to a 15-minute slide presentation (in pdf format) (speaker E. Plunkett) entitled "Assessment of landscape changes in the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Urban growth modeling" given as part of the Symposium on Chesapeake modeling held on May 22, 2012 in Annapolis Maryland.
- Maine workshop on phase 1 results -- This is a link to a pdf containing handouts of the powerpoint slide presentations presented at the DSL workshop held on October 9, 2012 in New Gloucester, Maine.
- Maryland workshop on phase 1 results -- This is a link to a pdf containing handouts of the powerpoint slide presentations presented at the DSL workshop held on October 16, 2012 in Pincess Anne, Maryland.
- Massachusetts workshop on phase 1 results -- This is a link to a pdf containing handouts of the powerpoint slide presentations presented at the DSL workshop held on October 23, 2012 in North Hampton, Massachusetts.
- Landscape conservation design workshop -- This is a link to a pdf containing handouts of the powerpoint slide presentation presented at an informal USFWS workshop held on April 22, 2012 in Hadley, Massachusetts. Note, this was a preliminary workshop to discuss our proposed landscape conservation design approach.
- Project overview -- This document is intended to serve as a general description of the project, including an overview of our approach to meeting the goals and objectives. This working document is directed to our Scientific Steering Committee, but should be useful to anyone interested in learning more about this project. This document is something of an executive summary of the project in its current state and makes reference to other detailed documents (below) that provide the technical details of the modeling approach. It is highly recommended that you read this document before attempting to read any of the other documents, as this document provides the overall framework of the project and establishes the context for the more specific technical documents.
Phase 1 Results:
The links below include a report on the phase 1 results for each of the three pilot watershed (and links to accompanying data files, as explained in the reports) in addition to a report on the preliminary comparison of the coarse and fine filters. Note, the reports for the pilot watersheds are identical in template and make reference to the detailed technical documents below for additional information on the LCAD methods:
- Coarse-filter representative species comparison -- This report documents our preliminary findings (based on phase 1 work involving 10 representative species) on the comparison of the coarse filter (ecological integrity) assessment and the representative species' habitat capability assessment and is illustrated using the results from the middle Connecticut River watershed pilot study.
- Pilot study area results -- See below for links to reports and data products for the pilot study areas.
- Click here for Release Notes describing the known "bugs" in the phase 1 results. [Updated 10/26/2012]
- The output grids accidentally got stripped of their .prj files during processing. As an interim solution,
to set the projection in ArcMap, follow these steps:
- Data Management Tools > Projections and Transformations > Define Projection
- In the Define Projection dialog box, click the coordinate system icon
- Click the Select button
- Navigate to: Projected Coordinate Systems / Continental / North America / USA Contiguous Albers Equal Area Conic USGS.prj
- Click the Add button
Kennebec River watershed:
Pocomoke and Nanticoke Rivers watershed:
Middle Connecticut River watershed:
Manager Survey and Feedback:
The following online survey is intended primarily for participants of the sub-regional workshops being held with partners of the NALCC to review the results and provide feedback on phase 1 of the DSL project, although any NALCC partner is welcome to provide feedback. Specifically, this survey includes a set of questions posed to partners concerning how best to package the landscape design information resulting from the LCAD model applied to the entire Northeast in phase 2. [click here to provide feedback via the online survey]
The following documents provide a complete technical description of the Landscape Change, Assessment and Design (LCAD) model. Importantly, all of these documents are working documents and therefore subject to frequent change:
- Ecological systems --This document provides a summary of our use of ecological systems as an organizational framework for portions of the model. Here, we briefly introduce the concept of ecological systems and the challenges of using them as an organizational framework, and then briefly outline four alternatives (that we considered) for their use in the model, including a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each, and the final adopted alternative.
- Spatial data -- This document provides a brief overview of the spatial data used in the model, including the source of the data and a description of the processing steps.
- Disturbance-succession -- This document describes how we are modeling vegetation disturbance and succession, and includes a detailed description of the methods and the alternatives considered.
- Climate -- This document describes how we are modeling climate change. More specifically, this document describes the source of the climate change data that we are using and the methods we are applying to downscale the data to meet our needs.
- Urban growth -- This document describes how we are modeling urban growth. However, as the urban growth model is still under development, here we provide only a brief overview of our modeling approach. A more detailed description of the model will follow soon.
- Filters -- This document describes our coarse-fine filter assessment based on the concept of landscape ecological integrity. Here, we define ecological integrity and the five major components of integrity that we quantify: intactness, resiliency, adaptive capacity, diversity and connectivity, and describe the various indices used to quantify each component.
- Species -- This document describes our species-based assessment based on the concept of climate and habitat capability for a suite of representative species. Here, we define climate and habitat capability and the methods used to measure each component for each species. In addition, here we link to detailed documentation of the climate-habitat capability model developed for each representative species.
- Landscape design -- This document describes our preliminary ideas for the landscape design component of the LCAD model, but is intended solely as a springboard for discussion of ways to use the results of the landscape change and assessment to inform conservation action in the realms of land protection, land management and ecological restoration.