Sacramento, CA, United States
Sacramento, CA, United States

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Howard J.K.,Nature Conservancy | Klausmeyer K.R.,Nature Conservancy | Fesenmyer K.A.,Trout Unlimited | Furnish J.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 18 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

The ranges and abundances of species that depend on freshwater habitats are declining worldwide. Efforts to counteract those trends are often hampered by a lack of information about species distribution and conservation status and are often strongly biased toward a few well-studied groups.We identified the 3,906 vascular plants, macroinvertebrates, and vertebrates native to California, USA, that depend on fresh water for at least one stage of their life history. We evaluated the conservation status for these taxa using existing government and non-governmental organization assessments (e.g., endangered species act, NatureServe), created a spatial database of locality observations or distribution information from ∼400 data sources, and mapped patterns of richness, endemism, and vulnerability. Although nearly half of all taxa with conservation status (n = 1,939) are vulnerable to extinction, only 114 (6%) of those vulnerable taxa have a legal mandate for protection in the form of formal inclusion on a state or federal endangered species list. Endemic taxa are at greater risk than non-endemics, with 90% of the 927 endemic taxa vulnerable to extinction. Records with spatial data were available for a total of 2,276 species (61%). The patterns of species richness differ depending on the taxonomic group analyzed, but are similar across taxonomic level. No particular taxonomic group represents an umbrella for all species, but hotspots of high richness for listed species cover 40% of the hotspots for all other species and 58% of the hotspots for vulnerable freshwater species. By mapping freshwater species hotspots we show locations that represent the top priority for conservation action in the state. This study identifies opportunities to fill gaps in the evaluation of conservation status for freshwater taxa in California, to address the lack of occurrence information for nearly 40% of freshwater taxa and nearly 40% of watersheds in the state, and to implement adequate protections for freshwater taxa where they are currently lacking.

Gogol-Prokurat M.,Biogeographic Data Branch | Gogol-Prokurat M.,University of California at Davis
California Fish and Game | Year: 2014

Assessing habitat quality to identify the highest priority sites for conservation planning is a complex task, and requires an understanding of which habitat attributes are most important for species population success. I explored the relative importance of biotic, abiotic, spatial, or disturbance-related habitat attributes to the population abundance of four edaphic-endemic, disturbance-dependent rare plant species. Variable selection provided a way to evaluate the relative importance of ecologically relevant groups of habitat attributes. Overall, biotic and disturbance history variables were the best predictors of population abundance for all four gabbro rare plant species, while spatial and abiotic variables were not found to be strong drivers of population abundance. Habitat quality for the four rare plants evaluated here may be best characterized by the associated species in the vegetation community, and an appropriate disturbance regime is a key component to maintain populations over time.

Faber-Langendoen D.,NatureServe | Keeler-Wolf T.,Biogeographic Data Branch | Meidinger D.,British Columbia Ministry of forests | Tart D.,U.S. Department of Agriculture | And 7 more authors.
Ecological Monographs | Year: 2014

A vegetation classification approach is needed that can describe the diversity of terrestrial ecosystems and their transformations over large time frames, span the full range of spatial and geographic scales across the globe, and provide knowledge of reference conditions and current states of ecosystems required to make decisions about conservation and resource management. We summarize the scientific basis for EcoVeg, a physiognomic-floristic-ecological classification approach that applies to existing vegetation, both cultural (planted and dominated by human processes) and natural (spontaneously formed and dominated by nonhuman ecological processes). The classification is based on a set of vegetation criteria, including physiognomy (growth forms, structure) and floristics (compositional similarity and characteristic species combinations), in conjunction with ecological characteristics, including site factors, disturbance, bioclimate, and biogeography. For natural vegetation, the rationale for the upper levels (formation types) is based on the relation between global-scale vegetation patterns and macroclimate, hydrology, and substrate. The rationale for the middle levels is based on scaling from regional formations (divisions) to regional floristic-physiognomic types (macrogroup and group) that respond to meso-scale biogeographic, climatic, disturbance, and site factors. Finally, the lower levels (alliance and association) are defined by detailed floristic composition that responds to local to regional topo-edaphic and disturbance gradients. For cultural vegetation, the rationale is similar, but types are based on distinctive vegetation physiognomy and floristics that reflect human activities. The hierarchy provides a structure that organizes regional/continental vegetation patterns in the context of global patterns. A formal nomenclature is provided, along with a descriptive template that provides the differentiating criteria for each type at all levels of the hierarchy. Formation types have been described for the globe; divisions and macrogroups for North America, Latin America and Africa; groups, alliances and associations for the United States, parts of Canada, Latin America and, in partnership with other classifications that share these levels, many other parts of the globe. © 2014 by the Ecological Society of America.

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