Ecological Monographs, 77(3), 2007, pp. 301–3342007 by the Ecological Society of America
A GAP ANALYSIS AND COMPREHENSIVE CONSERVATION STRATEGY FOR RIVERINE ECOSYSTEMS OF MISSOURI
SCOTT P. SOWA, GUST ANNIS, MICHAEL E. MOREY, AND DAVID D. DIAMOND
Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership, School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201 USA
Abstract. North America harbors an astounding proportion of the world’s freshwater species, but it is facing a freshwater biodiversity crisis. A first step to slowing the loss of biodiversity involves identifying gaps in existing efforts to conserve biodiversity and prioritizing opportunities to fill these gaps. In this monograph we detail two separate, but complementary, conservation planning efforts—a Gap Analysis (GAP) and a State Wildlife Action Plan (WAP)—for Missouri that address this first step. The goal of the Missouri Aquatic GAP Project was to identify riverine ecosystems, habitats, and species not adequately represented (i.e., gaps) within existing conservation lands. The goal of the freshwater component of the Missouri Wildlife Action Plan was to identify and map a set of conservation-opportunity areas (COAs) that holistically represent all riverine ecosystems, habitats, and species in Missouri. Since conservation planning is a geographical exercise, both efforts utilized geographic information systems (GIS). Four principal GIS data sets were used in each planning effort: (1) a hierarchical riverine ecosystem classification, (2) predicted species distributions, (3) public ownership/stewardship, and (4) a human-threat index. Results of the gap analyses are not encouraging. Forty five, mostly rare, threatened, or endangered, species are not represented in lands set aside for conserving biodiversity. Results also illustrate the fragmented nature of conservation lands, which are mainly situated in the uplands and fail to provide connectivity among riverine habitats. Furthermore, many conservation lands are severely threatened by an array of human disturbances. In contrast, results of the WAP provide hope that relatively intact riverine ecosystems still exist. A total of 158 COAs, representing ;6% of the total kilometers of stream in Missouri, were selected for the WAP.
This illustrates that a wide spectrum of biodiversity can be represented within a small portion of the total resource base, but the area of conservation concern is often much larger. Identifying priority riverscapes for conservation is an important first step toward effective biodiversity conservation. Yet, achieving the ultimate goal of conserving biodiversity will require vigilance on the part of all responsible parties, with particular attention to addressing and coordinating the many remaining logistical tasks.
Key words: aquatic ecological classification; conservation planning; crayfish; fish; freshwater biodiversity; gap analysis; human-threat index; Missouri (USA) aquatic gap-analysis project; mussels; predicted species distributions; public stewardship mapping; riverine ecosystem protection; wildlife action plan