Landscape conservation design 

We developed these landscape conservation design products for the Nature’s Network (naturesnetwork.org) landscape conservation design for the northeastern United States and for the LANDSCAPE DESIGN paper. This includes a set of derived products to aid in biodiversity conservation throughout the Northeast. These products are intended to focus conservation actions, including land protection, management, and restoration where it will likely do the most good towards conserving biodiversity within the landscape. The geographic extent of these products is the entire Northeast region of the United States. These products provide a regional perspective on biodiversity conservation that can complement or supplement conservation planning done at local or finer extents. Importantly, although these landscape design products offer a way to strategically focus limited conservation resources, they are not a complete solution to biodiversity conservation in the region. Instead, these design products serve as a starting point that should be used in combination with other sources of information to direct conservation. Landscape conservation design is not a single product. Rather, it is a package of data products that collectively identify terrestrial core areas and connectors, aquatic core areas and their watershed-based buffers, restoration opportunities for dam removal and culvert upgrades, and places vulnerable to the loss of ecological value from future development.

Version numbers used by DSL
3.x represents our first regional dataset as used in Natures network
5.x represents the updates released in 2020, primarily in landcover which then affected most other products.
6.x is used only for species and is compatible with 5.x landcover but also includes updated climate data thus making the species products different than the 5.x species.

1.      HUC6 terrestrial cores and connectors [updated 3/18/2020]— this is the primary landscape design product for terrestrial and wetland ecosystems and associated focal species. Terrestrial core areas were selected based on products scaled by HUC6 watersheds to ensure a well-distributed ecological network across the region. This product is distributed in two formats, as described in the data:

      DSL_documentation_tCoreNet.pdf

      version 5: DSL_data_tCoreNet.zip

      version 3: DSL_data_tCoreNet.zip

2.     Spotted turtle landscape conservation tools (cores, connectors, and road vulnerability) [updated 3/18/2020] – this is our first species-specific landscape design product. It consists of potential conservation cores for spotted turtles—sites that our model suggests provide large areas of fairly intact habitat, as well as modeled connectivity among the cores and road-crossing vulnerability.

      dsl_documentation_phase5_spotted_turtle_lcd.pdf

      [data available by request]

3.     HUC6 terrestrial core tiers [updated 4/20/2018] — this is a secondary design product for terrestrial and wetland ecosystems and associated focal species. Terrestrial core tiers includes the largely undeveloped and road-bounded “natural blocks” surrounding the HUC6 terrestrial cores. These natural blocks function to provide supporting landscape for the cores and serve as more practical (i.e., more easily identifiable) conservation units than the cores. This product is distributed in two formats, as described in the data:

      DSL_documentation_tCoreTiers.pdf

      DSL_data_tCoreTiers.zip

4.     Northeast terrestrial ecosystem cores [updated; 5/15/2017] — this is a secondary design product for terrestrial and wetland ecosystems and associated focal species. Northeast terrestrial ecosystem cores were selected based solely on ecosystem-based products scaled by the entire Northeast region to ensure that the best places in the region for each ecosystem and geophysical setting were captured in the cores. Focal species were not explicitly considered in this set of cores. This product is distributed in two formats, as described in the data:

      DSL_documentation_tEcoCoresNE.pdf

      DSL_data_tEcoCoresNE.zip

5.     Conductance [updated 3/18/2020] — this is a supplemental design product for the HUC6 terrestrial cores and connectors. Regional conductance reveals places potentially important for maintaining connectivity between the designated core areas. Importantly, regional conductance is contingent upon the a prior designation of terrestrial core areas, and thus is it only meaningful when referenced to those designated terrestrial cores. HUC6 regional conductance is based on the HUC6 terrestrial cores and provides a continuous surface of conductance values between cores as an alternative to the discrete (binary) representation of “connectors” in the HUC6 terrestrial core-connector network:

      DSL_documentation_conductance.pdf

      DSL_data_conductance.zip

6.     Integrated probability of development [updated 4/20/2018] — this is an ancillary design product for terrestrial and wetland ecosystems and associated focal species representing the relative probability of any kind of development (low-, medium-, and high-intensity) occurring sometime between 2010-2080. This product can be used in combination with any of the other design products that reveal places of high ecological value to indicate places of ecological value that are at risk of development and thus may warrant land protection:

      DSL_documentation_probDevelop.pdf

      DSL_data_probDevelop.zip

7.      Vulnerability [updated 10/20/2021] — these are a couple of supplemental design products representing the vulnerability of high-valued places to future development. Local vulnerability depicts the potential loss of local connectivity due to future development independent of any designated terrestrial cores, and regional vulnerability depicts the potential loss of connectivity between the designated HUC6 terrestrial core areas due to future development. Importantly, regional vulnerability is contingent upon the a prior designation of terrestrial core areas, and thus is it only meaningful when referenced to those designated terrestrial cores. There are two separate products, as described in the data:

      DSL_documentation_vulnerability.pdf

      DSL_data_vulnerability.zip

8.     HUC6 aquatic cores and buffers [updated 4/20/2018] — this is the suite of primary design products for aquatic ecosystems and associated focal species. Aquatic core areas, including both lotic (river and stream) and lentic (lake and pond) cores, were selected based on products scaled by HUC6 watersheds to ensure a well-distributed ecological network across the region. Watershed buffers represent the areas estimated to have a strong influence on the integrity of the aquatic cores based on watershed processes. There are four separate products, as described in the data:

      DSL_documentation_aCores.pdf

      DSL_data_aCores.zip

9.     Northeast aquatic cores [updated 4/20/2018] — this is a suite of secondary design products for aquatic ecosystems and associated focal species. Aquatic core areas, including both lotic (river and stream) and lentic (lake and pond) cores, were selected based on products scaled by the entire Northeast region to ensure that the best places in the region for each ecosystem were captured in the cores. There are three separate products, as described in the data:

      DSL_documentation_aCoresNE.pdf

      DSL_data_aCoresNE.zip

10.  Critical local linkages [updated 10/14/2021] — these are three primary design products that measure the relative potential to improve local aquatic connectivity through restoration, including dam removals and culvert upgrades. Each road-stream crossing or dam is scored based on its potential to improve local aquatic connectivity through the corresponding restoration action, but only where it matters — in places where the current ecological integrity is not already seriously degraded too much. There are three separate products: crossings, dams, and coldwater crossings, as described in the documentation:

       DSL_documentation_critical_linkages.pdf

       DSL_data_cl_crossings.zip

       DSL_data_cl_dams.zip

       DSL_data_cl_coldwater.zip

11.   Alternative landscape designs associated with the LANDSCAPE DESIGN paper [updated 9/10/2018] — in this study, we developed 9 alternative sets of terrestrial cores based on various combinations of different biodiversity surrogates (species, ecosystems, and geophysical settings). We evaluated the compositional and spatial overlap among cores, and modeled the impact of 70 years of urban growth and climate change on future landscapes assuming each set of cores was protected.  Each of the sets of cores (including the HUC6 Nature’s Network cores) are included in the data:

      DSL_data_cores.zip