Assessing the State of Priority Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems in the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC

Thursday, October 23, 2014: 5:30 PM
Atrium Hall (Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center)
Kristine Evans , Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC /Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
Yvonne Allen , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Baton Rouge, LA
Greg Wathen , Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks LCC
John Tirpak , US Fish and Wildlife Service, Lafayette, LA
Todd Jones-Farrand , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia, MO
Toby Gray , Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks LCC/Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
The Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCPO LCC) is a consortium of agencies and institutions with the mission of defining a shared vision for sustainable natural/cultural resources in the face of a changing landscape; designing strategies to achieve that vision; and delivering results through leadership, partnerships, contributed resources, evaluation and refinement over time.  The GCPO LCC geography encompasses 180 million acres, intersecting 12 state jurisdictions in the Southeastern U.S.  Implementing strategic conservation across such a broad landscape has prompted LCC partners to compose a draft Science Agenda that prioritizes science needs within an initial set of priority ecosystems in the GCPO geography (i.e., mainstem big rivers, and medium-low and high gradient streams/rivers, forested wetlands, open pine woodlands, grassland/prairie/savanna, upland hardwoods, tidal marsh and beach/dune habitats).  The draft Science Agenda outlines initial landscape and species targets that characterize desired ecological states of each priority ecosystem within GCPO LCC subgeographies.  In 2014, the partnership began assessing the state of each priority ecosystem using the best available landscape-scale geospatial data to clearly define the amount, configuration (e.g., patch size, connectivity), composition/structure (e.g., basal area, aquatic flow) relative to each system’s desired ecological states.  The assessment also seeks to identify key data gaps to be addressed with future data acquisition/development.  The final outcome will be a data-driven product that will provide clear linkages among habitats and species in each priority system, identify and prioritize LCC data development needs, and lay the necessary groundwork for strategic conservation design in the GCPO LCC.