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Freshwater Resilience, All Streams, Stratified by Fish Region and Freshwater Ecoregion, Northeast U.S.

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The Nature Conservancy reserves all rights in data provided. All data are provided as is. This is not a survey quality dataset. The Nature Conservancy makes no warranty as to the currency, completeness, accuracy or utility of any specific data. This disclaimer applies both to individual use of the data and aggregate use with other data. It is strongly recommended that careful attention be paid to the contents of the metadata file associated with these data.

Summary

Resilient stream systems are those that will support a full spectrum of biodiversity and maintain their functional integrity even as species compositions and hydrologic properties change in response to shifts in ambient conditions due to climate change. We examined all connected stream networks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for seven characteristics correlated with resilience. These included four physical properties (network length, number of size classes, number of gradients classes and number of temperature classes), and three condition characteristics (risk of hydrologic alterations, natural cover in the floodplain, and amount of impervious surface in the watershed). A network was defined as a continuous system of connected [...]

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Purpose

Ecosystem resilience is the ability of an ecosystem to retain essential processes and support native diversity in the face of disturbances or expected shifts in ambient conditions (definition modified from Gunderson 2000). As growing human populations increase the pace of climate and land use changes, estimating the resilience of freshwater systems will be increasingly important for delivering effective long-term conservation. We developed and conducted a region-wide analysis of freshwater stream networks to estimate the capacity of each network to cope with climatic and environmental change. Please find the full report at https://www.conservationgateway.org/ConservationByGeography/NorthAmerica/UnitedStates/edc/Documents/FW%20resilience_5_28_2013_distribute.docx . Our analysis centered on the evaluation of characteristics that may allow stream ecosystems to maintain diversity and function within a dynamic climate, and that could be modeled in GIS with confidence at the regional scale and were not highly correlated with each other. Essentially, we identify stream networks that offer a wide diversity of options and microhabitats for species, and that have a higher likelihood of having functional key ecological processes. We do not predict exactly how the dynamics between streams and climate will play out. Presumably, the network’s species composition will change with climate, and likewise, processes will continue to operate although not in the same range of variation that they currently do. However, the identified higher relative resilient networks are places we hypothesize have a high likelihood of maintaining a diversity of species and natural communities, basic relationships and key ecological processes, and that will allow for adaptive change in composition and structure in the future. In this dataset, we present the entire source population of 1438 networks that contained small river (size 2: > 100 sq.km drainage area) and were at least 2 miles long that were analyzed in this project. The final 346 "complex networks" that we estimated to have the highest resilience can be queried out of this dataset using the field "CNTSZ_GE5 = 1" or can be found in the dataset "complex_networks_distribute.shp".
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  • LC MAP - Landscape Conservation Management and Analysis Portal
  • North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative

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