The South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SALCC) is leading a conservation design initiative that incorporates expert knowledge and a synthesis of data resources to develop a Conservation Blueprint. The Blueprint is intended to highlight opportunities for members to achieve conservation objectives. Diverse data resources exist to map patterns of species distribution, resource availability, ecological function, and other information about landscape gradients that are also associated with cultural and natural resource value. With this project, we evaluated such data resources to support SALCC’s development of landscape indicators for the Conservation Blueprint. We delivered to SALCC data visualizations of positive or negative spatial associations to inform indicator evaluation (i.e., not to reach conclusions regarding ecological drivers and relationships). The assumption is that the indicators are all aimed at a singular ecological integrity, therefore they should be positively associated. As indicator development was (and is) an ongoing, adaptive learning process, all the results referenced in this report have already been received by SALCC, reviewed by the technical committees, and applied to indicator development. Thus, the primary purpose of this report is to compile the delivered graphs and tables into a single document as a permanent record of the comparisons considered. At the initiation of this project, SALCC provided two lists. The first list identified a set of candidate indicators (hereafter, primary indicators). These indicators were the terrestrial data products expected to best guide landscape-scale, long-term natural resource conservation planning and to monitor the success of the plan as it is implemented. Selected through regional workshops and expert elicitation, SALCC hypothesized these indicators would broadly represent the critical ecosystem processes and components necessary to ensure the ecological integrity of the natural resources. The second list identified a variety of additional data resources (hereafter, second tier indicators) that had been 1) proposed by workshop participants but not selected as candidate indicators for this stage of the Blueprint development and/or 2) were deemed to be important enough stand-alone conservation elements that they could serve as a valuable tool to test out the validity of the first tier indicators. SALCC desired to know whether the candidate primary indicators adequately represented the information expressed by the secondary, non- candidate data resources. SALCC sought a rapid assessment of proposed indicators to facilitate discussions and decisions regarding effective versus ineffective indicators. SALCC defined effective primary indicators as those that spatially represent the majority of known ecosystem components (e.g., species) and/or processes as portrayed by the second tier indicators. We visually examined patterns of spatial overlap among data layers proposed to serve as primary and secondary indicators. Importantly, for this rapid assessment we did not test for correlations (which require more rigorous data modeling procedures) but rather produced exploratory data visualizations of the percent special overlap. High performing primary indicators, those with strong spatial overlap suggestive of positive correlations were identified as potentially effective indicators. Once identified, effective indicators could be targeted by SALCC partners for more rigorous data modeling, increased monitoring effort in support of adaptive management, or directed research to better understand mechanisms behind observed patterns. Low performing primary indicators and redundant secondary indicators could be recommended for removal from the Blueprint design. Indictors deemed ineffective via these visual assessments may warrant further scientific investigation.
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