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Title: Integrating biodiversity and drinking water protection goals through geographic analysis

Author: Wickham, James D.; Flather, Curtis H.;

Date: 2013

Source: Diversity and Distributions. 19: 1198-1207.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)


Aim: Biodiversity and drinking water share a common interest in land conservation. Our objective was to identify where that common interest occurs

geographically to inform conservation planning. Location: The study focused on 2112 eight-digit hydrologic units (watersheds) occurring in the conterminous United States. Methods: Data on aquatic-dependent species occurrence, drinking water intakes, protected land status and land cover change were compiled for each watershed. We compared these four datasets after defining ‘hotspots’ based on attribute-specific thresholds that included (1) the 90th percentile of at-risk aquatic biodiversity, (2) with and without drinking water intakes, (3) above and below the median percentage of protected land and (4) increase in urban land above and below a 1% threshold between 2001 and 2006. Geographic intersections were used to address a number of questions relevant to conservation planning including the following: What watersheds important to aquatic biodiversity are also important to drinking water? Which watersheds with a shared stake in biodiversity and drinking water protection have inadequate land protection? Which watersheds with potentially inadequate amounts of protected lands are also undergoing relatively rapid urbanization? Results: Over 60% of the watersheds that were determined to be aquatic biodiversity hotspots also had drinking water intakes, and approximately 50% of these watersheds had less than the United States median amount of protected land. A total of seven watersheds were found to have shared aquatic biodiversity/drinking water values, relatively low proportions of protected lands and a relatively high rate of urbanization. The majority of these watershed occurred in the south-eastern United States, with secondary occurrences in California. Main Conclustion: Geographic analysis of multiple ecosystem services can identify areas of shared land conservation interest. Locations where ecosystem commodities and species conservation overlap has the potential to increase stakeholder buy-in and leverage scarce resources to conserve land that, in this case study, protects both biodiversity and drinking water.

Keywords: at-risk species, conservation planning, ecosystem services, geographic information system, protected lands, urbanization

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Wickham, James D.; Flather, Curtis H. 2013. Integrating biodiversity and drinking water protection goals through geographic analysis. Diversity and Distributions. 19: 1198-1207.


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