U r b a n a n d S u b u r b a n A r e a s
S Y S T E M D I M E N S I O N S
C H E M I C A L A N D P H Y S I C A L
B I O L O G I C A L C O M P O N E N T S
H U M A N U S E S
Plants and Animals
W h a t I s T h i s I n d i c a t o r , a n d W h y I s
Status of "Original Species"
I t I m p o r t a n t ?
This indicator will report on the
degree to which “original” plants and animals are either
absent entirely or are at risk of being lost from
metropolitan areas. Original species are those that, before
European settlement, inhabited the lands now occupied
Data Not Adequate
by metropolitan areas. Specifically, the indicator will
for National Reporting
report on the fraction of metropolitan areas where 25%
or more, 50% or more, and 75% or more of originalspecies are at risk of being displaced or are absent.
Species differ in their ability to cope with
urban/suburban development, and cities and suburbs
differ in their capacity to accommodate those species
Note: These data would be reported for four regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and West.
common in the area before European settlement. Howthoroughly an area is developed, and whether there are areas and corridors maintained for wildlife, has an influenceon whether some species—those less tolerant of people and development—become reduced in population ordisplaced from the local area. Some of these species may have healthy populations outside cities and their suburbs,but in other cases the loss of habitat in urban and suburban areas can contribute to the overall decline of a species’population. Efforts to improve or restore habitat within urban/suburban areas can increase the likelihood thatoriginal species will re-inhabit these areas.
W h y C a n ’ t T h i s I n d i c a t o r B e R e p o r t e d a t T h i s T i m e ?
The historical data necessary to
establish lists of original species are incomplete, and current information on their status, especially within cities and
their suburbs, is not systematically collected and reported. When available, the amount, quality, and format of such
data are extremely variable.
D i s c u s s i o n
Note that it is difficult to distinguish between at-risk and absent in this context, so both are
included. In addition, presettlement is used as a benchmark simply as a way to track changes, not because the full
suite of original species would necessarily be desirable in any given metropolitan area.
This indicator would not be calculated for all urban and suburban areas, as defined in this report (see Area of
Urban and Suburban Lands, p. 181), as it is likely that information, expertise, and financial resources will beavailable only for larger metropolitan areas. Thus, it might be appropriate to base reporting for this indicator ondata from a suite of cities (and their suburbs) whose population exceeds 100,000 or that cover at least 50 squaremiles, for example.
The technical note for this indicator is on page 269.
The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems: The Indicators
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