Biological Objectives for the Gulf Coast: Biological Planning Units & Target Species Population Objectives

Science Center Objects

The USGS partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its conservation partners to develop 16 Biological Planning Units (BPU) and six Aquatic Extensions and compile population objectives for 166 species that are representative of habitats within each BPU.

The Science Issue and Relevance: The success of Gulf Coast restoration efforts hinge on partners sharing a common vision that is framed by explicit biological objectives for conservation targets. However, explicit biological objectives that quantify what it means to share a common vision remain undefined. Despite numerous conservation partnerships along the Gulf of Mexico, the ability to collectively inform restoration activities at the Gulf-wide scale is hampered by their focus on different selection criteria and spatial scales. The Biological Objectives for the Gulf Coast (BOGC) working group’s goal is to establish explicit objectives to help guide strategic habitat conservation across the Gulf.

Biological Planning Units (BPUs)

Fig 1. Biological Planning Units and six aquaic extensions.

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: The USGS partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and its conservation partners to develop 16 Biological Planning Units (BPU) and six Aquatic Extensions (Fig. 1) and compile population objectives for 166 species that are representative of habitats within each BPU.

Future Steps: These products can be used to spatially evaluate strategic conservation decisions related to the target species. The BPUs and population objectives are used by the USFWS to communicate its vision for Gulf restoration to its partners across the Gulf Coast. They are also used to inform quantitative, spatial models that the BOGC developed for beach mice, Gulf sturgeon, Brown Pelican, Black Skimmers, and Gull-billed Terns (see Related Products).