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EPA/600/R-08/061

  Quick Assessment Protocols for Measuring Relative Ecological Significance of Terrestrial Ecosystems (EPA/600/R-08/061) May 2008
2005 Project Data (ZIP)(4 files, 527 KB)
2006 Project Data (ZIP)(4 files, 496 KB)

Report cover: Quick Assessment Protocols for Measuring Relative Ecological Significance of Terrestrial Ecosystems

Land use change in EPA’s Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) is occurring rapidly, particularly with the loss of agricultural land and gain in forest and urbanized land use. The risk of losing habitats and ecosystems that are critical to the health of the region is therefore very high; however, identifying high-quality, critical habitats remains a challenge. To address this issue, EPA researchers developed a spatially explicit, geographic information system-based model called the “Critical Ecosystem Assessment Model” or “CrEAM.” The CrEAM generated a relative ecological significance score for each undeveloped 300-meter-by-300-meter cell within EPA Region 5. This report details protocols that were developed to gather field data to independently and quantitatively verify the CrEAM-generated score. The protocols prescribe data collection that captures measures of diversity, rarity, and persistence for forested, nonforested, and wetland ecosystems. For each 300-meter-by-300-meter site, data are collected in a four-hour time period by a team of four people. Data collected using the protocols in field trials in 2005 and 2006 did not match well with the corresponding CrEAM scores. However, particularly with respect to the plant communities, the protocol data did reflect qualitative site assessments conducted by professional ecologists. The protocols were straightforward to implement in the field and may be useful for applications beyond this project.

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Allison Roy


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