There are a number of great projects going on that have been supported by contributions to your cooperative. These projects were all selected based on your feedback on Blueprint improvements and barriers to conservation action. Here’s a quick update on a few of them:

Improving the natural and built environment connection in the Blueprint

Two of the big themes that came out of the Blueprint 2.0 workshops were that: 1) Corridors and priorities near/within urban areas weren’t depicted well and 2) Lack of connections with urban planners was a major barrier to working in areas near growing communities. This project, a collaboration with the American Planning Association, seeks to address both of those. After a few phone calls and an in-person meeting, interviews with urban planners and conservation professionals will be starting soon. Staff from your cooperative and the American Planning Association have already started discussing potential improvements to the urban open Space index.

This is all leading up to a small summit in the fall about urban conservation in the region. The summit will include around 10 – 15 urban planners and 10 – 15 conservation professionals. There’ll also be a chance for you weigh in and share your thoughts/and questions in an online forum before the summit.

Full results from the project and final report will be ready by the middle of next year.

Improving the connection between restricted range and at-risk species conservation and the South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint

As you probably remember, the Blueprint is about the overall integrity of the ecosystems. That means it’s supposed to cover not just large charismatic species but also the full suite of restricted range and at-risk species that are such a core part of the diversity of the South. In some earlier tests, there were indications that indicators like resilient biodiversity hotspots weren’t doing a great job of capturing some disturbance dependent restricted range and at-risk species.

This project is a collaboration with the Natural Heritage Programs within the South Atlantic. It seeks to develop distribution models for smooth coneflower, Piedmont fameflower, chaffseed, Michaux’s sumac, Southern hognose snake, striped newt, gopher frog, pondberry, frosted flatwoods salamander, and Curtiss’ loosestrife. You might remember the blog post Anne Chazal did a few months ago looking for data on these species. They’re now working on integrating all the environmental data to start running models.

Initial distribution models will be ready later this year and project is on track to finish off by early 2017.

Connecting the impact of coastal actions on marine ecosystems

This project is a collaboration of a ton of marine and coastal researchers to build a South Atlantic Marine Ecosystem model. It is part of a larger effort to develop models that connect conservation actions with responses of all the South Atlantic Indicators. This model will be used to predict how changes in water quantity/quality, wetland distributions, acidification, fishing, and other pressures impact the marine ecosystem.

Previous food webs developed by the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council are being revised and we’ve selected Ecopath with Ecosim and Ecospace as the platform for integrating existing data and models. Know of an ecological model that covers the South Atlantic you’d like to see included? Send me an email or give me a call.

The project will be complete in a little less than 2 years.