Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Baseline Synthesis

Science Center Objects

The Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) addresses effects of land-use and climate changes on Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources. In partnership with twelve Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations– FORT and ten other USGS centers are conducting dozens of integrated science projects to assess the status of Southwest Wyoming’s natural resources, the efficacy of habitat management projects, and effects of energy development on wildlife and socioeconomics. We’re also developing protocols for region-level monitoring long-term vegetation trends and modeling future resource conditions. Associated outreach highlights include developing online tools and data resources to support natural resource planning and management, and the efforts of FORT’s WLCI liaison, who spearheads WLCI Science Conferences and integrates science with WLCI management and conservation activities.

Understanding potential effects of energy development and other land-use changes, as well as the effects of climate change, on southwestern Wyoming's ecosystems will first require a synthesis (comprehensive assessment) of what is currently known and may be acquired via short-term, rapid assessments, retrospective analyses, and modeling future scenarios. By synthesizing this information, Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) partners can amass a body of baseline information against which to compare future conditions and ascertain ecosystem trends associated with land-use and other changes. The Baseline Synthesis Task entails six subtasks, the overall objectives of which are to build a conceptual framework for understanding how ecosystems of the WLCI region function and interact; determine which factors are the primary drivers of change on the landscape; stratify the WLCI landscape to ensure appropriate design of research and monitoring programs; identify and characterize important wildlife habitats for prioritizing and focusing future studies and management actions; ascertain the effects of historical changes on the landscape and how they may interact with current changes; and model potential outcomes of change based on differing scenarios of land-use.

To understand how land-use changes affect southwestern Wyoming ecosystems, FORT scientists will first identify primary stressors (drivers of change), then evaluate indicators of change pertaining to these stressors for their suitability as parameters in monitoring and research programs. Using the selected parameters, a set of comprehensive assessments will be conducted to provide the foundation of geospatial data and other information needed for research, monitoring, modeling, managing, and mitigating the effects of land-use and climate change.