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Pacific Coast Ecosystem Information System (PCEIS): From Description to Prediction

Project Leads and Affiliations:

Henry Lee II, EPA/Office of Research and Development
Deborah A. Reusser. USGS-Western Geographic Science Center

Key Collaborators:

Joan Cabreza, EPA Region 10
Laurel Hillmann, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Project Abstract Written: October 2005

Project Timeframe: 2006 - 2008

Project Summary:

The primary thrust of this project will be to produce an enhanced version of the Pacific Coast Ecosystem Information System (PCEIS), a georeferenced database of the native and nonindigenous marine/estuarine species and coastal landscape characteristics for the Pacific Coast. PCEIS will be released as a stand-alone Access database. Version 1, to be completed in FY06, will synthesize the distributions of the estuarine benthic invertebrates and fishes in Oregon, Washington, and California. The current beta version contains over 6000 species. Version 2, to be completed in FY07, will expand the geographical scope to include estuarine species' distributions from southern Mexico to Alaska. Version 2 will also synthesize the distributions of marine/estuarine flora and fauna in wetlands and outer coastal habitats (e.g., rocky intertidal). Distributions of individual species can extracted at a range of spatial scales, from the entire Pacific Coast to specific sub-estuaries, as well as by habitat type (e.g., soft-sediment, hard substrate). Alternatively, the total list of native and nonindigenous species can be extracted for a specific area. PCEIS is also synthesizing landscape characteristics for all the Pacific Coast watersheds, including estuarine characteristics (e.g., estuarine area, percent intertidal) and watershed characteristics (e.g., population, landuse from NLCD, climatic data).

Outputs from PCEIS will be used to address a number of scientific and management issues. One scientific thrust will be to use the species' distributions and landscape characteristics to evaluate niche models to predict species distributions, especially nonindigenous species. The primary model to be evaluated will be the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set Prediction (GARP), which builds "niche" rules by iterating through environmental data layers evaluating species presence. Another scientific thrust will be to use the species outputs from PCEIS as "master lists" to evaluate indices of taxonomic distinctness as multi-scalar metrics to evaluate the impacts of invasive species and/or pollutants on taxonomic structure. In terms of management utility, one of the primary benefits of PCEIS will be to provide ready access to the baseline geospatial distributions of marine/estuarine flora and fauna and to landscape attributes/data layers for coastal watersheds/estuaries. Such information is basic to conducting ecological risk assessments and in assessing which species are at risk. The geospatial baseline distributions of nonindigenous species are also key to assessing the efficacy of ballast water management (e.g., are new species invading) and in an "early detection – rapid response" strategy to invasion. Finally, development of metrics of estuarine condition and models to predict species distributions provide managers with quantitative tools to assess ecological condition, conduct risk assessments, manage invasive species, and manage rare/endangered species.

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