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The Designing Sustainable Landscapes Project: Piloting Landscape Conservation Design in the Connecticut River Watershed

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 | 10:30 am
Bill DeLuca
UMass, Amherst
The primary goals of conservation are to protect habitat, maintain ecosystem function and design landscapes to ensure habitat connectivity and persistence within the limits imposed by the socio-economic realities of human population growth.  To achieve these objectives we developed a landscape change, assessment and design model for the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. To estimate future climate and landscape change, we downscaled general circulation models to predict changes in climate and constructed a regional urban growth model to account for the primary direct anthropogenic influence on the landscape. We then assessed current and predict future changes to species’ distributions and ecological integrity given future climate change and urban growth. These assessments were then used to develop a conservation design network with the goal of identifying a connected, resilient and diverse system of core areas to maintain biodiversity.  We developed the spatial landscape change and assessment products for the 13 northeastern states and worked closely with a diverse group of regional stakeholders to create a conservation design network for the Connecticut River Watershed. Authors: Bill DeLuca, Kevin McGarigal, Bradley Compton, Joanna Grand, Ethan Plunkett
Bill DeLuca is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Northeast Climate Science Center and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Landscape Ecology Lab at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Bill’s research aims to understand the consequences of anthropogenically altered landscapes and climate on species distributions and population dynamics, with the specific goal of applying these findings to conservation decision-making and design.