North American Stronghold Conservation Spatial Design
Identifying priority areas for salmon conservation across regional scales means identifying those areas that are "irreplaceable" to meet conservation goals. In other words, protecting those places that, if their condition was degraded, would have a significant impact on the conservation targets of interest. Salmon strongholds are meant to be irreplaceable areas for strong, wild populations of salmon and steelhead within each salmon ecoregion. If the condition of the habitat that support these populations were degraded, this would have a significant negative effect upon the future of wild salmon within the salmon ecoregion. Thus, the strongholds act as "anchors" for diverse, wild, and productive salmon populations within an ecoregion.
The process for identifying these areas is a fundamental concern of systematic conservation planning. We will illustrate the implementation of a process in California.
Data were collected using population assessment methods. The condition of watersheds were assessed using Trout Unlimited's Conservation Success Index. Regional experts and stakeholders played a crucial role in all of this. The next step is to explicitly determine what a network of "salmon and steelhead strongholds" should be designed to protect. The case study described below walks through the steps of determining conservation targets, goals, and spatial design criteria for strongholds in California. We use the conservation planning tool Marxan to illustrate these processes. This was a highly collaborative process between major conservation organizations, state, and federal agencies.
- Marxan home page (University of Queensland)
- Marxan Good Practices Handbook (PacMara)
- How the Marxan algorithm works using a simple analogy (DICE)