University of Massachusetts Amherst

Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System

Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System

Overview – Metrics

Beginning with a digital base map depicting various classes of developed and undeveloped land and a number of auxiliary layers representing anthropogenic alterations (such as road traffic and imperviousness) and ecological variables (such as wetness and stream gradient), we computed a variety of landscape metrics to evaluate ecological integrity for every point in the landscape. A metric may, for example, take into account how well a point in the landscape is connected to similar points, the intensity of traffic on nearby roads, or the expected vulnerability to invasions by exotic plants.

Metrics Currently Used in CAPS
Similarity Microclimate alteration Imperviousness
Connectedness Feral predators Dam intensity
Aquatic connectedness Edge predators Salt marsh ditching
Habitat loss Non-native Invasive plants Tidal restriction
Watershed habitat loss Non-native invasive earthworms Hardened coastal structures
Wetland buffer insults Road salt Beach pedestrian traffic
Road/Railroad traffic Road sediment Beach off-road vehicle traffic
Mowing/Plowing intensity Nutrient loading  
Metrics Under Development
Hyrological alteration
Water temperature alteration
Fluvial geomorphic alteration
Boat traffic

CAPS Landscape Metrics lists the landscape metrics used in CAPS.

Intermediate results for each metric are saved to facilitate analysis—thus one can examine not only a map of the final indices of ecological integrity, but maps of road traffic intensity, connectedness, microclimate alterations, and so on.

Here are some examples of intermediate results for metrics.

Monague similarity
Similarity metric for the town of Montague. Darker areas are those more similar to areas nearby in the landscape.
montague traffic 2011
Traffic intensity metric for the town of Montague. Areas in darker red are more highly impacted by road and railroad traffic. Blue areas are relatively unaffected by traffic. White areas are developed land.
montague edge predators 2011
Edge predator metric for the town of Montague. Areas in darker red are more highly impacted by edge predators (raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes).
montague insults 2011
Wetland buffer insults metric for the town of Montague. This metric is applied only to wetlands. Wetlands in darker red have a higher percentage of impervious surfaces in their 100-ft buffer zones. Blue areas are relatively unaffected by impervious surfaces within the buffer zone.
north shore connectedness 2011
Connectedness metric for an area on the north shore of Massachusetts. Areas in darker colors are more interconnected with similar areas nearby than those depicted in lighter colors. White areas are developed land.
northshore aquatic connectedness 2011
Aquatic connectedness metric for an area on the north shore of Massachusetts. This metric is applied only to wetland and aquatic communities. Areas in darker blue are more interconnected with similar areas nearby than those depicted in lighter color.
north shore tidal restrictions 2011
Tidal restrictions metric for an area on the north shore of Massachusetts. This metric is applied only to wetland and aquatic communities. Areas in darker red are more highly impacted by tidal restriction. Blue areas are relatively unaffected by tidal restrictions.
North shore ditches 2011
Salt marsh ditching metric for an area on the north shore of Massachusetts. This metric is applied only to salt marshes. Areas in darker red are more highly impacted by ditching. Blue areas are relatively unaffected by salt marsh ditches.