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NatureServe Vista: Key Features
Model Ecological Condition
The condition of an element occurrence influences the desirability of conserving it or the need to restore its condition to meet conservation goals. Vista requires values for condition (also known as viability/integrity or quality scores). The Landscape Condition Modeler allows you to create and model layers that will reflect the condition of an element?s occurrences across its distribution in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (the latter via interoperability with NOAA?s N-SPECT software).
In Vista, the condition values are input during the element import process where the viability/integrity of an element?s occurrences are defined as an attribute of a spatial layer (e.g., observed condition), or as a previously generated raster landscape condition model. Vista supports import of outside condition model results or using built-in modeling tools to define condition values. For starting (baseline) condition values, modeling tools are accessed directly through ArcGIS. For modeling condition change effects, the same tool but is operated from within Vista. This provides the functionality for running ?condition-based? Scenario Evaluations. Incorporating landscape condition modeling expands Vista and allows it go beyond conducting only categorical evaluations (i.e., an element is compatible/not compatible with the land use at this location), users may now evaluate land uses in a particular scenario factoring in a threshold element condition based on both on-site (direct) and off-site (indirect) impacts. In sum, an element can be assigned a threshold that when met, indicate that the element?s required conditions are not being achieved. The Vista report can also indicate which elements were approaching the threshold and which were not, helping the user identify which elements were most at risk.
Use of the landscape condition modeling function in Vista provides additional precision to scenario evaluations by incorporating indirect effects (i.e. noise, water pollution) and producing more detailed results of spatial land use scenario impacts. This is due to the established condition thresholds rather than just simple categorical responses. Aquatic condition modeling is accomplished through interoperability with NOAA?s N-SPECT (Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool) software that greatly enhances users? ability to deal with freshwater and estuarine aquatic features and water quality issues. Vista facilitates further modeling of N-SPECT outputs to predict condition impacts or improvements from from upstream development, other land uses, and climate change. N-SPECT was designed to be broadly applicable, but the tool operates most accurately in medium-to-large watersheds having moderate topographic relief (NOAA CSC, 2009). Vista?s condition modeler allows for the direct use of N-SPECT grid outputs, incorporating these grids to model both initial condition and condition change effects.
Figure 1. Terrestrial condition model developed for SW Puerto Rico
Figure 2. Aquatic Condition Modeler using N-SPECT outputs.