Conservation Partners connecting working lands conservation from the Gulf of Mexico to the High Plains with the vision of a sustainable landscape of natural resources resilient to the threats and stressors associated with our changing world.

(903) 570-9626
Conservation Coordinator 

    Mangrove & marsh at Port Aransas, TX

    Mangrove and tidal marsh at Port Aransas, TX
    courtesy of Dr. Mark Hester

Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment

Formal Title: Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assesssment

Research Focus: climate change vulnerability and adaptation

Conservation & Management Challenges:

Climate, sea level rise, and urbanization are undergoing unprecedented levels of combined change and are expected to have large effects on natural resources—particularly along the Gulf of Mexico coastline (Gulf Coast). Management decisions to address these effects (i.e., adaptation) require an understanding of the relative vulnerability of various resources to these stressors. To meet this need, the four Landscape Conservation Cooperatives along the Gulf partnered with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to conduct this Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment (GCVA).

Research Overview:

The GCVA used an expert opinion approach to qualitatively assess the vulnerability of four ecosystems: mangrove, oyster reef, tidal emergent marsh, and barrier islands, and a suite of wildlife species that depend on them. Vulnerability in this context incorporates the aspects of exposure and sensitivity to threats, coupled with the adaptive capacity to mitigate those threats. Potential impact and adaptive capacity reflect natural history features of target species and ecosystems. More than 50 individuals participated in the completion of the GCVA, facilitated via Ecosystem and Species Expert Teams.


View the Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment webinar presenting a project overview

The range in vulnerability scores for species was fairly wide with blue crab at the low end and Kemp’s ridley sea turtle demonstrating high vulnerability.  Ecosystem vulnerability across the four systems differed less than it did for species with mangroves being the least vulnerable and tidal emergent marsh being the most vulnerable. 

The GCVA can be used to inform actions and link individual actions to support regional conservation and adaptation efforts by:

Access GCVA project reports on ScienceBase


This project was initiated in 2012 and completed in October 2015.  The project was co-funded by the Gulf Coast Prairie, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks, South Atlantic, and Peninsular Florida LCCs, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The GCVA was initiated by the four Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) that cover the Gulf of Mexico: the Gulf Coast Prairie, Gulf Coastal Plains & Ozarks, South Atlantic, and Peninsular Florida LCCs. Each LCC is directed by a Steering Committee of partners that also provided support for this project. Additional support and guidance was provided through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI), the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) through the Southeast Climate Science Center. The Core Planning Team acknowledges Laurie Rounds of NOAA who led the initial effort on this project, and without whose vision we would not have initiated this work. 


Principal Investigators:  Amanda Watson, and Steve Ashby, Mississippi State University - Northern Gulf Institute,

For more information, please contact Cynthia Edwards, c.kallio.edwards@gmail.com337-207-9377.

Landscape Conservation Cooperative Point-of-Contact: Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative, National Wetlands Research Center, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506.

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