New Mexico

Legacy ID: 
35
State Code: 
NM
Country Code: 
USA
Area: 
121 757.00
Latitude: 
34.42
Longitude: 
-106.10
Publication Title: 

Facilitating the inclusion of nonmarket values in Bureau of Land Management planning and project assessments—Final report

FORT Contact: 
Chris Huber
Authors: 
Huber, Chris, and Richardson, Leslie
Related Staff: 
Chris Huber
Leslie Richardson
Publication Date: 
2016
Parent Publication Title: 
Open-File Report
Publication Type: 
Archive number: 

Pub Abstract: 

This report summarizes the results of a series of field-based case studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to (1) evaluate the use of nonmarket values in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning and project assessments, (2) update existing technical resources for measuring those values, and (3) provide guidance to field staff on the use of nonmarket values. Four BLM pilot sites participated in this effort: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas in Utah, BLM’s Taos Field Office in New Mexico, and BLM's Tuscarora Field Office in Nevada. The focus of the case studies was on practical applications of nonmarket valuation. USGS worked directly with BLM field staff at the pilot sites to demonstrate the process of considering nonmarket values in BLM decisionmaking and document the questions, challenges, and opportunities that arise when tying economic language to projects.

As part of this effort, a Web-based toolkit, available at https://my.usgs.gov/benefit-transfer/, was updated and expanded to help facilitate benefit transfers (that is, the use of existing economic data to quantify nonmarket values) and qualitative discussions of nonmarket values. A total of 53 new or overlooked nonmarket valuation studies comprising 494 nonmarket value estimates for various recreational activities and the preservation of threatened, endangered, and rare species were added to existing databases within this Benefit Transfer Toolkit. In addition, four meta-regression functions focused on hunting, wildlife viewing, fishing, and trail use recreation were developed and added to the Benefit Transfer Toolkit.

Results of this effort demonstrate that there are two main roles for nonmarket valuation in BLM planning. The first is to improve the decisionmaking process by contributing to a more comprehensive comparison of economic benefits and cost when evaluating resource tradeoffs for National Environmental Policy Act analyses. The second is to use economic language and information on economic values, either qualitative or quantitative, to improve the ability to communicate the economic significance of the resources provided by BLM-managed lands. 

Findings also indicate that the use of existing economic data to quantify nonmarket values (that is, benefit transfer) poses unique challenges because of the scarcity of both resource data and existing valuation studies focused on resources and sites managed by BLM. This highlights the need for improvements in the collection of resource data at BLM sites, especially visitor use data, as well as an opportunity for BLM’s Socioeconomics Program to strategically identify priority areas, in terms of both resources and geographic locations, where primary valuation studies could be conducted and the results used for future benefit transfers. Finally, whereas qualitative discussions of nonmarket values do not facilitate the comparison of monetized values, they can provide a manageable next step forward in providing more comprehensive information on nonmarket values for BLM plans and project assessments.

 

Long-term Integrated Assessments

Code: 
RB00CMY
Abstract: 

Statement of the ProblemThe rate and magnitude of ecosystem responses to climatic warming, land-use change, and alterations of major biogeochemical cycles at the Earth’s surface are variable and uncertain, ranging from gradual to abrupt, from moderate to profound. The least understood and least predictable responses—those that are both abrupt and profound—are perhaps those of greatest importance to natural resource managers. Recent examples of such responses include ongoing, drought-induced tree mortality on millions of hectares of forest in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California; increases in area burned by severe wildfires in the western United States during the late 1980s to the first years of the 21st century; and exceedance of thresholds for eutrophication from atmospheric deposition. In all cases, ecosystem thresholds were quickly exceeded, leading to large and often unexpected changes that will have long-term consequences for protected areas. 

ObjetivesProgram element and goal: Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Ecosystems, Goal 3 - Develop indexes of ecosystem sensitivity to change and vulnerability to potential stressors, and tools to predict ecosystem responses to environmental change. Objectives for this program are to observe, conduct research, and synthesize knowledge gained about the function of ecosystems experiencing changes in climate, land use, and biogeochemical cycling. Specific goals are to address (1) how climatic variability and change, alterations in N and C cycles, and land use change are likely to affect spatial and temporal patterns of ecological disturbance, ecosystem processes, and biogeochemical cycles; (2) how changing climate, disturbance, and biogeochemistry are likely to affect the composition, structure, and productivity of terrestrial and aquatic vegetation; and (3) which mountain and arctic resources and ecosystems are likely to be most sensitive/vulnerable to future climatic or biogeochemical change, and what are the possible management responses.

Strategy and Approachhe Integrated Assessments Project incorporates and supports long-term monitoring, experimental studies, ecological and physical modeling, paleoecological reconstructions, remote sensing, and spatial surveys of similar processes. Tasks will be conducted by USGS scientists, their students and collaborators, and stakeholders where appropriate. The approach will be one of rigorous science at all stages, culminating in professional publications or graduate degrees, and knowledge transfer to stakeholders and decision-makers.

Relevance and ImpaceHumankind is one of the two or three major driving environmental forces on Earth today. Over the past several decades we have come to a global awareness of societal ability to affect major Earth system functions, including cycles of water, nutrients, and even climate. Our information on the consequences to both natural ecosystems and human-dominated systems has grown commensurately with our understanding of the human role in changing Earth processes. There is a good chance that some of the changes now occurring due to human actions are irrevocable, launching the Earth into excursions in biogeochemical and water cycling never seen before in the four billion year history of the planet. Society relies completely on natural ecosystem functions for economic and social well-being, and very life support. Integrated Assessments are tools to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information that is important to society and land managers. Thay can include physical and ecosystem research, economic and social science inputs, and collaborative efforts between scientists and decision makers.

Publication Title: 

Drought, multi-seasonal climate, and wildfire in northern New Mexico

FORT Contact: 
Ellis Margolis
Authors: 
Margolis, E.Q., Woodhouse, C.A. and Swetnam, T.W.
Related Staff: 
Ellis Margolis
Publication Date: 
2017
Parent Publication Title: 
Climatic Change
Publication Type: 
Archive number: 
States: 

Pub Abstract: 

Wildfire is increasingly a concern in the USA, where 10 million acres burned in 2015. Climate is a primary driver of wildfire, and understanding fire-climate relationships is crucial for informing fire management and modeling the effects of climate change on fire. In the southwestern USA, fire-climate relationships have been informed by tree-ring data that extend centuries prior to the onset of fire exclusion in the late 1800s. Variability in cool-season precipitation has been linked to fire occurrence, but the effects of the summer North American monsoon on fire are less understood, as are the effects of climate on fire seasonality. We use a new set of reconstructions for cool-season (October–April) and monsoon-season (July–August) moisture conditions along with a large new fire scar dataset to examine relationships between multi-seasonal climate variability, fire extent, and fire seasonality in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico (1599–1899 CE). Results suggest that large fires burning in all seasons are strongly influenced by the current year cool-season moisture, but fires burning mid-summer to fall are also influenced by monsoon moisture. Wet conditions several years prior to the fire year during the cool season, and to a lesser extent during the monsoon season, are also important for spring through late-summer fires. Persistent cool-season drought longer than 3 years may inhibit fires due to the lack of moisture to replenish surface fuels. This suggests that fuels may become increasingly limiting for fire occurrence in semi-arid regions that are projected to become drier with climate change.

Publication Title: 

First estimates of the probability of survival in a small-bodied, high-elevation frog (Boreal Chorus Frog, Pseudacris maculata), or how historical data can be useful

FORT Contact: 
Erin Muths
Authors: 
Muths, E.L., R.D. Scherer, S.M. Amburgey, T. Matthews, A.W. Spencer, and P.S. Corn
Related Staff: 
Erin Muths
Publication Date: 
2016
Parent Publication Title: 
Canadian Journal of Zoology
Publication Type: 
Archive number: 

Pub Abstract: 

In an era of shrinking budgets yet increasing demands for conservation, the value of existing (i.e., historical) data are elevated. Lengthy time series on common, or previously common, species are particularly valuable and may be available only through the use of historical information. We provide first estimates of the probability of survival and longevity (0.67–0.79 and 5–7 years, respectively) for a subalpine population of a small-bodied, ostensibly common amphibian, the Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata (Agassiz, 1850)), using historical data and contemporary, hypothesis-driven information–theoretic analyses. We also test a priori hypotheses about the effects of color morph (as suggested by early reports) and of drought (as suggested by recent climate predictions) on survival. Using robust mark–recapture models, we find some support for early hypotheses regarding the effect of color on survival, but we find no effect of drought. The congruence between early findings and our analyses highlights the usefulness of historical information in providing raw data for contemporary analyses and context for conservation and management decisions.

Publication Title: 

Why You Can’t Ignore Disease When You Reintroduce Animals

FORT Contact: 
Erin Muths
Authors: 
Muths, E.L. and H. McCallum
Related Staff: 
Erin Muths
Publication Date: 
2016
Parent Publication Title: 
Publication Type: 
Archive number: 

Pub Abstract: 

Infectious disease is an important consideration when contemplating reintroduction of a species to an area from which it has been extirpated and is one risk that has escalated in recent decades as use of large-scale and hands-on conservation measures increase. Reintroduction (in essence moving animals around), is a management tool considered when populations are failing or extirpations have occurred, yet is obviously at odds with many of the tenets of disease management. We focus on extirpations attributed to disease and formulate a decision tree to guide managers considering reintroduction. If disease was not the original cause of extinction or decline, it still is important to consider as inadvertent introduction of disease with reintroduced hosts may cause a reintroduction to fail, or may threaten members of the recipient ecological community. If disease was an important agent of extinction or decline, then the disease threat must be addressed before reintroduction is contemplated, or the effort is highly likely to fail. If disease resistant or tolerant stock are available, then reintroducing these animals may succeed. If such stock are not available, then it is important to determine whether reservoirs are present, and if they are, to develop strategies to manage disease adequately in the reservoirs. If reservoirs are not present, then the biggest threat to a reintroduction is the presence of still-infected members of the species being reintroduced. We illustrate these principles with two case studies, the boreal toad (Anaxyrus (Bufo) boreas), threatened by the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus hariisii), threatened by a transmissible cancer.

Documenting Naturally Occurring Bacteria in Bats

Code: 
RB00CN7.13
Bat with white-nose syndrome. Credit to USFWS.
Bat with white-nose syndrome. Photograph by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Abstract: 

White-nose syndrome (WNS) and/or Pseudogymnoascus destructans (P.d.), the causal agent, has spread westward across 26 states and 5 provinces within the eastern United States and Canada, respectively, over a short period of time. In 2015, three tri-colored bats (Perimyotis subflavus), a species found primarily in the eastern United States, tested positive for P.d. in eastern Oklahoma. Until March 2016, the discovery of WNS and P.d. in Washington state, these records represented the westernmost occurrence of the disease causing fungus. In addition, records of P.d from eastern Oklahoma are also on the same latitude and trajectory as a possible corridor to the western United States via northeastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado. In 2003, tri-colored bats were discovered in northeastern New Mexico, thus suggesting that this species is moving into the West via the riparian corridors of northeastern New Mexico. 

Given the proximity of Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site (BEOL, approx. 135 km away) in southeastern Colorado and Capulin Volcano National Monument (CAVO, approx. 75 km away) in northeastern New Mexico to the record of P. subflavus recorded in 2003, these two monuments are at the frontline to the introduction of P.d. and WNS. Further, Pecos National Historic Park (PECO) is at an ecotone between grassland-woodland and montane forest relative to the two aforementioned national parks and likely possess a greater diversity of bat species that could be affected by WNS. Overall, these sites serve as critical locations prior to exposure to P.d. for the diagnosis of naturally occurring microbiota that could act as natural defenses against WNS. 

During the spring and summer of 2016, FORT Scientist Dr. Ernie Valdez and his collaborators at the University of New Mexico sampled bats from all BEOL, CAVO, and PECO in an effort to document naturally occurring bacteria belonging to the group known as Actinobacteria. In general, this particular group of bacteria is known for producing many of the world’s antibiotics. As shown in previous research by Dr. Valdez and his collaborators, some Actinobacteria sampled from the external surfaces of western bats produce antifungal properties that impact the growth of P.d. (see figure 1). The discovery and future testing of the anti-fungal properties from these bacteria may lend themselves as possible bio-control agents against WNS.

Publication Title: 

A Multiscale Index of Landscape Intactness for the Western United States

FORT Contact: 
Natasha Carr
Authors: 
Carr, N.B., I.I.F. Leinwand, and D.J.A. Wood
Related Staff: 
Natasha Carr
Ian Leinwand
Publication Date: 
2016
Parent Publication Title: 
Publication Type: 
Archive number: 

Pub Abstract: 

Landscape intactness has been defined as a quantifiable estimate of naturalness measured on a gradient of anthropogenic influence. We developed a multiscale index of landscape intactness for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) landscape approach, which requires multiple scales of information to quantify the cumulative effects of land use. The multiscale index of landscape intactness represents a gradient of anthropogenic influence as represented by development levels at two analysis scales.

To create the index, we first mapped the surface disturbance footprint of development, for the western U.S., by compiling and combining spatial data for urban development, agriculture, energy and minerals, and transportation for 17 states. All linear features and points were buffered to create a surface disturbance footprint. Buffered footprints and polygonal data were rasterized at 15-meter (m), aggregated to 30-m, and then combined with the existing 30-meter inputs for urban development and cultivated croplands. The footprint area was represented as a proportion of the cell and was summed using a raster calculator. To reduce processing time, the 30-m disturbance footprint was aggregated to 90-m. The 90-m resolution surface disturbance footprint is retained as a separate raster data sets in this data release (Surface Disturbance Footprint from Development for the Western United States). We used a circular moving window to create a terrestrial development index for two scales of analysis, 2.5-kilometer (km) and 20-km, by calculating the percent of the surface disturbance footprint at each scale. The terrestrial development index at both the 2.5-km (Terrestrial Development Index for the Western United States: 2.5-km moving window) and 20-km (Terrestrial Development Index for the Western United States: 20-km moving window) were retained as separate raster data sets in this data release. The terrestrial development indexes at two analysis scales were ranked and combined to create the multiscale index of landscape intactness (retained as Landscape Intactness Index for the Western United States) in this data release. To identify intact areas, we focused on terrestrial development index scores less than or equal to 3 percent, which represented relatively low levels of development on multiple-use lands managed by the BLM and other land management agencies.

The multiscale index of landscape intactness was designed to be flexible, transparent, defensible, and applicable across multiple spatial scales, ecological boundaries, and jurisdictions. To foster transparency and facilitate interpretation, the multiscale index of landscape intactness data release retains four component data sets to enable users to interpret the multiscale index of landscape intactness: the surface disturbance footprint, the terrestrial development index summarized at two scales (2.5-km and 20-km circular moving windows), and the overall landscape intactness index. The multiscale index is a proposed core indicator to quantify landscape integrity for the BLM Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring program and is intended to be used in conjunction with additional regional- or local-level information not available at national levels (such as invasive species occurrence) necessary to evaluate ecological integrity for the BLM landscape approach.

Publication Title: 

Assessing range-wide habitat suitability for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken

FORT Contact: 
Catherine Jarnevich
Authors: 
Jarnevich, C. S., T. R. Holcombe, B. A. Grisham, J. Timmer, C. W. Boal, M. Butler, J. Pitman, S. Kyle, D. Klute, G. Beauprez, A. Janus, and B. Van Pelt.
Related Staff: 
Catherine Jarnevich
Tracy Holcombe
Publication Date: 
2016
Parent Publication Title: 
Avian Conservation and Ecology
Publication Type: 
Archive number: 

Pub Abstract: 

Population declines of many wildlife species have been linked to habitat loss incurred through land-use change. Incorporation of conservation planning into development planning may mitigate these impacts. The threatened Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is experiencing loss of native habitat and high levels of energy development across its multijurisdictional range. Our goal was to explore relationships of the species occurrence with landscape characteristics and anthropogenic effects influencing its distribution through evaluation of habitat suitability associated with one particular habitat usage, lekking. Lekking has been relatively well-surveyed, though not consistently, in all jurisdictions. All five states in which Lesser Prairie-Chickens occur cooperated in development of a Maxent habitat suitability model. We created two models, one with state as a factor and one without state. When state was included it was the most important predictor, followed by percent of land cover consisting of known or suspected used vegetation classes within a 5000 m area around a lek. Without state, land cover was the most important predictor of relative habitat suitability for leks. Among the anthropogenic predictors, landscape condition, a measure of human impact integrated across several factors, was most important, ranking third in importance without state. These results quantify the relative suitability of the landscape within the current occupied range of Lesser Prairie-Chickens. These models, combined with other landscape information, form the basis of a habitat assessment tool that can be used to guide siting of development projects and targeting of areas for conservation.

Droughts Might Increase the Susceptibility of Prairie Dogs to Fleas and Plague

Colorado State University cooperator, Dr. David Eads, and FORT Research Wildlife Biologist, Dr. Dean Biggins, and colleagues, published a manuscript on the potential importance of droughts in the ecology of plague (Yersinia pestis), an introduced, zoonotic disease that can devastate populations of prairie dogs (Cynomys)and endangered Black-footed Ferrets (Mustela nigripes).

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