Ecological settings refer to the principal biophysical characteristics at multiple scales that strongly influence the composition, structure and function of a particular ecosystem (site) over the long term and serve to describe and distinguish it ecologically. CAPS characterizes ecological settings via a suite of variables (e.g. wetness, soil depth, temperature, solar exposure, wind exposure) that define ecological community characteristics.
Three metrics used in CAPS (similarity, connectedness and aquatic connectedness) are based on ecological distances computed between the focal cell and those of neighboring cells. Ecological distance is the multivariate distance across various ecological gradients that define ecological communities.
|Ecological Settings Variables used in CAPS|
|Growing season degree days||Water salinity||Vegetative structure|
|Minimum winter temperature||Wetness||Developed|
|Incident solar radiation||Flow gradient||Hard development|
|Soil pH||Flow volume||Traffic rate|
|Soil depth||Tidal regime||Impervious|
|Soil texture||Wave exposure||Terrestrial barriers|
|Substrate mobility||Wind exposure||Aquatic barriers|
|Calcium carbonate content||Steep slopes|
CAPS Ecological Settings Variables describes the ecological settings variables used in CAPS.
CAPS Ecological Settings Variable Parameters provides information about how the ecological settings variables are parameterized and combined to compute ecological distance.
Following are examples of ecological settings variables from northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts.