BIODIVERSITY RESULTS

Summary (Hess)

Question: To what degree to lands with high levels of ecosystem services overlap land of high value for the conservation of biological diversity? Stated differently, will protecting land with high levels of ecosystem services also protect species and ecological communities of conservation concern, and vice-versa?<

Our answer: Conserving land with high levels of ecosystem services is not an efficient approach to conserving species and ecological communities of concern in our study area. Conserving land that supports species and ecological communities of concern protects a very small portion of the lands with highest levels of ecosystem services.

Take-home: Separate approaches are required to conserve areas of high value for ecosystem services and areas that support species and ecological communities of concern.

Support:
SNHA analysis
  • SNHA is a small portion of the study area - approx 7% - see slivers in Fig 1 left-hand bar
  • Protecting the highest quartile ecosystem service covers 22% of the SNHA, which is only 1.6% of the study area. (Fig 1)
  • Protecting this highest quartile for ES requires contracting or purchasing nearly 500sq-km of scattered land that nets only 22% of the SNHAs; all the SNHAs total just over 140sq-km and are far more consolidated (show maps of ES quartiles and SNHAs)

EO analysis
  • Same basic message - top quartile of 480 sq-km covers 39% of occurrences representing 71% of all species and ecological communities of concern ... but using much more very scattered land than is needed. (Table 2 - for presentation, might condense this to top quartile only - have full table as an extra at the end of the presentation)
  • Do note that the coverage of wetland species and communities is very high in the top quartile. (Table 2) This is because 99% of the wetlands are in the top quartile of ecosystem services (see table 1 on Property Value Results page).

GAP analysis (need a simple table for this - quartile in one col, % covered in second)
  • The top quartile of ES covers nearly 100% of all species - but so do all of the other quartiles. In fact, the lowest quartile - least valuable for ES - covers them all!
  • Level of ES (quartiles) does not differentiate by species composition - we're getting the same species, pretty much, in all quartiles - there is no pattern in the few that are missed in some of the quartiles

Note for presentation:
I'd recommend presenting in the order shown above - state the question we addressed, tell them the answer and the take-home, then show the supporting material. I've found that people seem to pay more attention to the methods and details when they know the answer first - especially if they don't like the answer. Then repeat the take-home.





Significant Natural Heritage Areas

The NC Natural Heritage Program has delineated Significant Natural Heritage Areas that are core conservation lands in the state and of the highest priority for protection. The boundaries of these areas are established to ensure long-term persistence of species and natural communities of conservation interest. Significant Natural Heritage Areas occupy 142 sq-km (7%) of the 1,961 sk-km Upper Neuse River Basin (Table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of ecosystem Significant Natural Heritage Areas by quantile of ecosystem service
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One question commonly about the concordance of ecosystem services with biological diversity is whether the protection of land providing high levels of ecosystem service would also protect areas of high value for species and natural communities of conservation concern. We found that the lands providing the highest biophysical level (top quartile) of ecosystem services in the Upper Neuse Basin overlapped 22% of the Significant Natural Heritage Areas in the Basin (Figure 1, Table 1). Lands in the top two quartiles of ecosystem service provision (972 sq-km) overlapped 62% (87 sq-km) of the Heritage Areas.

Figure 1. Distribution of ecosystem services relative to Significant Natural Heritage Areas. The left bar shows ecosystem service quartiles for the entire study area. The shaded sections at the bottom of each quartile show the proportion of the study area within the quartile that are occupied by Significant Natural Heritage Areas. The right bar shows the proportion of the Significant Natural Heritage Areas in each quartile of ecosystem service.
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A related question is whether conserving areas based on their value for species and natural communities of conservation concern would include areas of high ecosystem service value. The Significant Natural Heritage Areas covered approximately 7% of the total area in the top quartile of ecosystem services, defined biophysically (Table 1).


Element Occurrences

The Natural Heritage Program also maps the locations of species and natural communities of conservation concern as points called element occurrences, which are available in a geographic information system format. Each element occurrence has associated information about its status, including national and state rank, current status (extinct, extant, historic, etc), and uncertainty in its location. We started with the full element occurrence data for our study area and removed records that were marked as destroyed, extinct, or historic; that had not been observed during the past 25 years; or that had an estimated locational accuracy of less than 20%. There were 563 occurrences of 87 different species that met these criteria (Table 2). We used these to estimate the proportion of occurrences included in each of our ecosystem service quartiles (completeness) and the proportion of the 87 different species included at least once in the quartiles (representation). Because there is uncertainty in the location of each element occurrence, we counted occurrences as included if they were within a given (in the database) uncertainty distance of a portion of the landscape in an ecosystem service quartile. [language still a bit rough]

We found that the land in the top quartile of ecosystem services would likely include 71% of all species and natural communities of concern at least once (representation), and 39% of all element occurrences (completeness) (Table 2). A large proportion of species and communities in wetlands (93% representation, 82% completeness) were included. Representation and, especially, completeness were less for aquatic and terrestrial species.


Table 2. Cumulative completeness and representation by type of species and community type. Completeness is the proportion of the total number of occurrences of species or community included in the quartile and all higher quartiles. Representation is the proportion of unique species or communities included.
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BIODIVERSITY- Species Richness from GAP
Vertebrate species richness per pixel ant 30m resolution. Richness ranges from 5-169 species with dark areas representing high richness values.

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Mean values in species richness are not significantly different across ecosystem service quartiles (more analyses to come....)


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REVISED FIGURE 3 (NCH-11/28/10)
The final metric of biodiversity we used to evaluate concordance with ecosystem service was vertebrate species richness. This data was
obtained from 229 species distribution models developed by NC GAP project. We found that geographic locations with the highest
stacked ecosystem services, represented by quartile four, also had the highest average species richness. Average species
varied significantly across the ecosystem service quartiles and this range differed by a maximum 12 species between the highest and
lowest quartile. However, the representation of species differ not vary significantly or cumaltively across the ecosystem service quartiles. For example, all species in the study area occured in the the lowest ecosystem service quartile; while 98% of the species occurred in the
quartile with the highest stacked ecosystem services.


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BIODIVERSITY DISCUSSION

In our study area, area of high ecosystem service did not match areas of high value for biodiversity well. Protecting areas of high ecosystem service was not an efficient approach if one's goal was to protect areas of conservation concern for biodiversity. Although protecting areas providing ecosystem services in the top two quartiles would result in protecting 66% of the Significant Natural Heritage Areas, the SNHAs are only 9% of the area in the top two quartiles (87 sq-km of 972 sq-km) (Table 1, Figure 1). Conversely, protecting areas for biodiversity is not sufficient if one's goal is to protect areas of high ecosystem service value. Protecting all of the Significant Natural Heritage Areas in the study area would conserve only 7% of the land in the top quartile of ecosystem service value (Table 1).

We noted that the land providing ecosystem services in the top quartile included 82% of the wetland species and communities of conservation concern (completeness), including 93% of the different species and communities in the study area (representation). This likely reflects the high level of ecosystem services, in terms of carbon storage and nutrient retention, afforded by wetlands.



NOTE: We need to explain that water received an ecosystem service value of zero and accounted for 1% of the area and wound up in the lowest quartile - mainly the lake. We did not remove these because some of the aquatic species are in the water.