Characterizing the status, variability and temporal dynamics of ecological systems in the southwest
The research proposed here will characterize the seasonal phenology and interannual dynamics of ecological systems as recently mapped in the arid and semi-arid southwest to create a 'phenological profile' of the system. Changes in these profiles may be due to many factors, including fire, invasion of non-native species, land use activities, and vegetation response to climate fluctuations or change. In this time of apparent global change, it is important to recognize and monitor even subtle landscape changes, and necessary to separate trends toward a new state of the ecological system from patterns of normal variability. This research will help identify these trends as early as possible.
The Puget Sound Ecosystem Portfolio Model
Thousands of streams and rivers drain a land area of about 35,500 km2 into Puget Sound, designated by the U.S. EPA as an Estuary of National Significance. This region is experiencing significant population growth and development pressures.
The USGS Puget Sound Ecosystem Portfolio Model (PSEPM) is a decision support tool that uses scenarios to evaluate where, when and to what extent future population growth, urban growth and shoreline development may threaten the nearshore environment by 2060. The tool focuses on threats to barrier and bluff-backed beaches, which represent 50 percent of Puget Sound shorelines by length. A suite of sub-models identify multiple connections between land use and the nearshore’s capacity to support valued ecosystem components (VECs) and ecosystem services.
Visit the Puget Sound Ecosystem Portfolio Model website
Ecosystem Services Analysis of Climate Change and Urban Growth in the Upper Santa Cruz Watershed
We are developing a multidisciplinary Santa Cruz Watershed Ecosystem Portfolio Model
- to create a support tool for management of urban development and respond to climate change,
- to assess and value the ecosystem services of the watershed and landscape,
- to visualize impacts of a range of scenarios on people’s quality of life,
- to operationalize the decision-making process,
- to define transparent indicators of intangible issues, like environmental justice and sustainability,
- that recognizes the complexity and unpredictability of the systems,
- and that considers tradeoffs relating to competing perspectives of stakeholders.