Concerns about the influence of climate change on biota have emerged over the past decade, and responses in species populations and distribution patterns have already been documented (Parmesan 1996, Thomas and Lennon 1999). Current climates and communities will not simply migrate, but rather will re-form in novel ways over time (Fox 2007; Hunter et al. 1988; Williams and Jackson 2007). Due to the uncertainty of future climatic patterns and species responses, enduring features of the landscape (geophysical settings) are appropriate targets of assessment, planning, and conservation (Anderson and Ferree 2010, Beier and Brost 2010, Brost and Beier 2012; Hunter et al. 1988). Only recently have enduring features been modeled and considered in assessments, and no nationally available enduring features datasets have been summarized and evaluated in this light. This project proposed to access several nationally-available enduring features data layers including LandFire (www.landfire.gov) ecological site potential (ESP) and biophysical setting (BpS), and new terrestrial ecosystems data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (Sayre et al. 2009), then summarize information on how the data were created and qualitatively evaluate their merit. For at least one of these, investigators proposed to provide a national, spatially-explicit analysis and map of enduring features hotspots, and an evaluation of how well enduring feature types are conserved for each ecoregion across the nation (e.g. a national GAP-style analysis of enduring features), then compare nationally available enduring features data to information on geophysical setting developed separately by other workers for at least three ecoregions: deserts in Arizona (using land facets developed by Paul Beier and co-workers), the Central Appalachians (using ecological land units developed by Mark Anderson and co-workers), and the Ozark Highland in Missouri (using ecological land types developed by David Diamond and coworkers). Finally, for at least one ecoregion, investigators proposed to assess the applicability of using enduring features for conservation planning by developing a conservation design using enduring features as targets.
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