Aquatic GAP Pilot Project

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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. 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. Four principal GIS datasets were developed and used for this project: (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 were not encouraging. Forty five, mostly rare, threatened, or endangered species are not represented in lands set aside for conserving biodiversity. Results also illustrated the fragmented nature of conservation lands, which are mainly situated in the uplands and fail to provide connectivity among riverine habitats. Furthermore, the results showed that many conservation lands are severely threatened by an array of human disturbances. Fortunately, the same data developed for this project can and have been used by resource planners and managers to fill existing gaps in our conservation efforts to develop more efficient and effective strategies for on-the-ground conservation efforts.  
This project was completed in September 2005.  A PDF of the final report and a peer-reviewed publication are available under “Project Files” on the project web page.