University of Massachusetts Amherst

Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System

Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System

Applications – Overview

Critical Linkages Project

Working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and state agencies we are completing a comprehensive analysis of areas in Massachusetts where connections must be protected and restored to support the Commonwealth's wildlife and biodiversity resources. The Critical Linkages project is developing spatially explicit tools, including models, maps and scenario-testing software, for use in mitigating the impacts of roads and railroads on the environment.

Wetlands Assessment and Monitoring Program

We are working with the MA Department of Environmental Protection, MA Office of Coast Zone Management and U.S. EPA to develop cost-effective tools and techniques for assessment and monitoring of wetland and aquatic ecosystems. Extensive field research is used to develop and test sophisticated landscape-based assessment models as part of the Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS). The result of this work will be a comprehensive wetlands monitoring and assessment program for Massachusetts that will guide policy decisions and restoration efforts.

BioMap 2

biomapThe Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program and The Nature Conservancy’s Massachusetts Program developed BioMap2 to serve as a guide for conservation decision making to preserve and restore biodiversity in Massachusetts. A primary focus of the project was to identify the most resistant and resilient ecosystems with capacity to support a broad range of species and the natural processes necessary to sustain biodiversity over time. Scientists from UMass Amherst worked with these organizations to perform a custom CAPS analysis to assist in the identification of forest cores, wetland cores, clusters of vernal pools and undeveloped landscape blocks with the highest potential for maintaining ecological integrity over time.
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Losing Ground

Mass Audubon Losing GroundIn preparing the fourth in its series of Losing Ground publications the Massachusetts Audubon Society partnered with UMass Amherst to evaluate the impact of land development on the state’s ecosystems. We used CAPS to assess ecological integrity retrospectively using land use/land cover data for 1971, 1985, 1999 and 2005 and computing the loss of Ecological Integrity (IEI) due to develop over that 34 year period.
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South Coast Rail Project

CAPS South Rail Project ReportCAPS was used to assess several alternative routes for the proposed South Coast Rail system in southeastern Massachusetts. A CAPS analysis was conducted for each of the proposed routes (Attleboro, Stoughton, and Stoughton-Whittenton) and compared to a base scenario representing current conditions. Versions of the Stoughton and Stoughton-Whittenton route were analyzed with and without a trestle through Hockomock Swamp. The difference between the IEI for a route scenario and the base IEI values provided an estimate of the loss in ecological integrity for each route. These differences are expressed graphically and in terms of IEI units. A sensitivity analysis was run to assess the effect of uncertainty in parameters.
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