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.
Glaciers and rock glaciers supply water and bioavailable nutrients to headwater mountain lakes and streams across all regions of the American West. Here we present a comparative study of the metal, nutrient, and microbial characteristics of glacial and rock glacial influence on headwater ecosystems in three mountain ranges of the contiguous U.S.: The Cascade Mountains, Rocky Mountains, and Sierra Nevada. Several meltwater characteristics (water temperature, conductivity, pH, heavy metals, nutrients, complexity of dissolved organic matter (DOM), and bacterial richness and diversity) differed significantly between glacier and rock glacier meltwaters, while other characteristics (Ca2+, Fe3+, SiO2 concentrations, reactive nitrogen, and microbial processing of DOM) showed distinct trends between mountain ranges regardless of meltwater source. Some characteristics were affected both by glacier type and mountain range (e.g. temperature, ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3- ) concentrations, bacterial diversity). Due to the ubiquity of rock glaciers and the accelerating loss of the low latitude glaciers our results point to the important and changing influence that these frozen features place on headwater ecosystems.
Examining Range-wide Connectivity in White-tailed Ptarmigan
A White-tailed Ptarmigan on Mt. Evans in Colorado. Photo by Cameron Aldridge, USGS.
The goal of this study is to document levels of connectivity among white-tailed ptarmigan populations. Our preliminary results, based on microsatellite loci, revealed that there is significant population genetic structure throughout the species’ range. The Colorado and Vancouver Island populations were the most isolated and there was limited connectivity among populations in Alaska, the Yukon, Washington, and Montana. There is little evidence for movement from Colorado northward or from Vancouver Island eastward, raising concerns for the long term viability of two subspecies. As these areas are most impacted by climate change, this lack of connectivity to the core part of the range may have implications for the species’ ability to track shifting habitats due to warming climates.
Large-scale dam removal on the Elwha River, Washington, USA: River channel and floodplain geomorphic change
East, A.E., G.R. Pess, J.A. Bountry, C.S. Magirl, A.C. Ritchie, J.B. Logan, T.J. Randle, M.C. Mastin, J.T. Minear, J.J. Duda, M.C. Liermann, M.L. McHenry, T.J. Beechie, and P.B. Shafroth
This project examined and analyzed 560 fish representing eight species from 16 sites in the Columbia River Basin (CRB) from September 1997 to April 1998. Ten of the 16 sampling locations were historical National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program (NCBP) sites where organochlorine and elemental contaminants in fish had been monitored from 1969 through 1986. Five sites were co-located at U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)-National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN) stations at which water quality is monitored. The sampling location at Marine Park in Vancouver, Washington did not correspond to either of the established monitoring programs. Eight of the sampling locations were located on the Columbia River; three were on the Snake River; two were on the Willamette River, and one site was on each of the Yakima, Salmon and Flathead Rivers. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), black basses (Micropterus sp.), and largescale sucker (Catostomus macrocheilus) together accounted for 80% of the fish sampled during the study. Fish were weighed and measured then field-examined for external and internal lesions, and liver, spleen, and gonads were weighed to compute somatic indices. Selected tissues and fluids were obtained and preserved for analysis of fish health and reproductive biomarkers. Composite samples of whole fish from each station were grouped by species and gender and analyzed for persistent organic and inorganic contaminants and for dioxin-like activity using H4IIE rat hepatoma cell bioassay.
Environmental contaminants and biomarker responses in fish from the Columbia River and its tributaries: Spatial and temporal trends
ASPN is a Web-based decision tool that assists natural resource managers and planners in identifying and prioritizing social and economic planning issues, and provides guidance on appropriate social and economic methods to address their identified issues.
ASPN covers the breadth of issues facing natural resource management agencies so it is widely applicable for various resources, plans, and projects.
ASPN also realistically accounts for budget and planning time constraints by providing estimated costs and time lengths needed for each of the possible social and economic methods.
ASPN is a valuable starting point for natural resource managers and planners to start working with their agencies’ social and economic specialists. Natural resource management actions have social and economic effects that often require appropriate analyses. Additionally, in the United States, Federal agencies are legally mandated to follow guidance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires addressing social and economic effects for actions that may cause biophysical impacts. Most natural resource managers and planners lack training in understanding the full range of potential social and economic effects of a management decision as well as an understanding of the variety of methods and analyses available to address these effects. Thus, ASPN provides a common framework which provides consistency within and across natural resource management agencies to assist in identification of pertinent social and economic issues while also allowing the social and economic analyses to be tailored to best meet the needs of the specific plan or project.
ASPN can be used throughout a planning process or be used as a tool to identify potential issues that may be applicable to future management actions. ASPN is useful during the pre-scoping phase as a tool to start thinking about potential social and economic issues as well as to identify potential stakeholders who may be affected. Thinking about this early in the planning process can help with outreach efforts and with understanding the cost and time needed to address the potential social and economic effects. One can use ASPN during the scoping and post-scoping phases as a way to obtain guidance on how to address issues that stakeholders identified. ASPN can also be used as a monitoring tool to identify whether new social and economic issues arise after a management action occurs.
ASPN is developed through a collaborative research effort between the USGS Fort Collins Science Center’s (FORT) Social and Economic Analysis (SEA) Branch and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ASPN’s technical development is led by the USGS FORT’s Information Science Branch. An updated release, which will extend ASPN’s functionality and incorporate feature improvements identified in ongoing usability testing, is currently in the planning stages.