Summary: Grassland habitats and species have been identified by the GCP LCC as priorities for conservation and management. Our project was focused on first scoping the diversity of grassland conservation needs expressed by partners within the LCC, and then selecting a subset of priorities for further work.
The process of gathering input from partners helped define data needs. These were considered within the limitations of the project in order to define our major thrusts, both in terms of thematic and geographic extent. Based on these interactions, we agreed on two primary areas of action:
(1) accumulation of existing and development of new datasets that will help partners set priorities for conservation and management; this datasets will be static until revised, so together they form a static decisions support tool (DST), and
(2) demonstration of a dynamic DST in an area of importance to partners in Texas that uses these new datasets together with other existing datasets; hence the dynamic nature of this tool is that different scenarios can be explored with input data, not that input data are less static than for the static DST. The dynamic DST is a software tool that users can interact with, add their own data, adjust models, and rerun analyses. This pilot covered an eight county region in south central Texas and aimed to support traditional “reactive” decision making where the user can apply the tool to understand the content and context of a specific parcel to decide if it warranted conservation funding; and a “proactive” application where the user can examine the landscape and select parcels that would add considerably to the conservation network. The free NatureServe Vista ArcGIS extension was used to create the GIS project with readily available data. A set of evaluators from the region volunteered to try out the tool and provide feedback about its potential for support conservation decision making in the region. Four evaluators provided feedback generally finding high potential for the tool but additional data development needs in the region and needs for guidance and training if the tool is propagated for field use.
Presenters: Dr. David Diamond and Patrick Crist
Dr. David D. Diamond has been Director of the Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership at the University of Missouri for the past 18 years. Previously he worked in Texas for The Nature Conservancy (4 years) and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (8 years). Working as an ecologist, he wrote the first "modern" plant community classification for Texas. Recently, he has worked on vegetation and geophysical site type mapping and conservation opportunity area identification at multiple scales, from regions (Lower Midwest) to states (Texas and Oklahoma) to local areas and management units (St. Louis Region, National Park units). He has worked with colleagues to compile enduring features data for the conterminous USA, perform an ecoregion-based GAP-style analysis of enduring features, and provide an analysis of enduring features diversity hotspots by ecoregion.
Patrick Crist, Director of Conservation Planning for NatureServe, based in Boulder Colorado