The six indicators

The six underlying indicators were selected to reflect key or emerging conservation priorities related to the protection of biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change. They were developed using the most recent available data at the highest spatial resolution obtainable. The six indicators are:

  • Total Carbon

    Total Carbon is the total ecosystem carbon (above- and below-ground biomass, soil organic carbon) that currently exists in a given location. This dataset is based on the best available information on current carbon storage across the U.S.

  • Climate Resilience is the degree to which the current climate conditions in a given location will be accessible in the future. Areas of high climate resilience are those that contribute to the ability of organisms to adapt to climate change through both local and long-distance movements.

  • Climate Stability is the similarity between the present climate (averaged between 1981 and 2010) and future climate (in 2055) at a given location. Climatically stable areas will have future climates that are similar to present conditions.

  • Ecological Intactness is the degree to which a given location remains in a natural state. Ecologically intact landscapes have minimal or no influence from human activities and are therefore able to support natural evolutionary and ecological processes as well as communities of organisms similar in species composition, diversity, and functional organization to those of undisturbed habitats.

  • Species Richness is the total number of species likely to occur in a given area. For the lower 48 U.S. states, the dataset uses habitat suitability maps for 2,216 of the nation’s most imperiled species, including vertebrates, freshwater invertebrates, pollinators, and vascular plants. For Alaska, the dataset incorporates range maps for 330 terrestrial vertebrate species.

  • Ecological Connectivity is the ability of a given location to support the natural movement of organisms through processes such as dispersal, migration, and gene flow, and to provide linkages between areas of high-quality habitat. Maintaining areas of high ecological connectivity is considered a key strategy for supporting species migrations and range shifts under climate change.