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[ birds and water] Welcome Today’s virtual lunchbox talk is the critical importance of plants and conservation. Decision-making with Regan Smyth Thank you for joining us today because of the size of our audience with the zoom webinar, your video and audio are muted We are recording this presentation and we’ll be sharing the recording with you We miss seeing everyone at the garden and are happy to have you joining us virtually today. The display gardens are now open for normal hours The North Carolina Botanical Garden needs your support, now more than ever The garden relies on donations, memberships, class registrations, ticket sales and facility rentals to operate And all of these revenue streams have been impacted by the pandemic We have taken great pride in being able to offer lunchbox talks at no charge Payment of class registration fees, directly support current and future mission-based educational activities We are implementing a suggested $5 fee for Lunchbox Talks Please know if you cannot afford to pay this registration fee, you will not be excluded from this education opportunity This will be easy to navigate in the registration form We appreciate your understanding and help with this change We have implemented it starting with October Lunchbox Talks, and this change will not impact those who have already registered Our next lunchbox talk will be on October 8th with Johnny Randall, our director of conservation Please join us to learn about the Venus Flytrap and conservation efforts Check out the link in the chat to register We want your feedback at the end of the webinar, a new browser window will open up for those on a computer Please complete this survey about your experience today It will also be sent in a followup email I’m Lauren Greene , and I’ll be one of today’s moderators I am providing interim public program support and am our youth environmental education specialist Joining us today is also Aisha Thompson She’s training as serving as a moderator Thank you for joining us today, Aisha Also we have David our facility rentals coordinator and interim registrar He’ll be giving us an overview of zoom webinar platform and be assisting with the Q and a throughout the talk over to you, David All right By this point, I’m sure all of you are Zoom experts, but just in case I’ll go through some basic controls that we’ll use for this webinar. As Lauren mentioned, that you’ll be mentioned, or you’ll be muted for the entirety of this program, and you’ll not be able to, um, view your show, your video, um, that will be limited to panelists and presenters. Um, we’ll use the Q & A function throughout the presentation If you have any questions, please use that to direct any questions to Regan Um, if you have any technical questions, please use the chat function and that will be sent directly to the panelists and we’ll reach out to you directly to help you out with any technical issues. Um, and if you’re having any issues with audio or anything like that, please use the raise hand function and we’ll also, um, get to that way Right now, we’re gonna, um, we’ll also use the Polls function, um, and these will automatically appear onto your screen when they’re launched We’re going to go ahead and watch that first one right now It should be appearing on your screens Now, please enter your responses All right So we’d love to get to know who is joining us today and where you are, which is what this first poll is. Um, if you’re not from the Triangle area, let us know where you’re from in the chat. Oh, I’ve got somebody joining us from Colorado, Morgantown, West Virginia, Nashville, Tennessee, Charlotte, New Jersey, Hershey, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Jersey, New Jersey with the Natural Heritage Program there Another New Jersey Blackstock, South Carolina Penrose, North Carolina, Florida Right. Great. Okay

Today’s speaker is Regan Smyth She’s the director of NatureServe’s spatial analysis program where she leads a team of scientists and GIS analysts working to provide the scientific information that supports biodiversity conservation across the Americas Regan’s expertise lies in adapting spatial analysis tools to address diverse resource management needs, including modeling and mapping of ecosystems and species habitat development of biodiversity indicators and spatial threats assessment, including climate change, vulnerability analysis She currently is coordinating coordinator of nature, serves network wide Habitat’s suitability modeling And led the Map of Biodiversity Importance project, a collaborative effort between NatureServe state natural heritage programs, the nature Conservancy and Microsoft to map areas of importance for imperiled species Regan earned both a BS in environmental science and biology and an MEM and ecosystem science and management from Duke university We will have time for questions at a few natural stopping points and time immediately after the talk as well with that welcome Regan All right. Thank you very much, Lauren. Um, I’m going to go ahead and share my screen Got it showing? Okay. I’m going to assume that… So yes, we can see your screen now. Thank you Thank you. So yeah. Hi, I’m Regan Smyth and, um, I’m really excited to be invited to kind of virtually travel back to the triangle to give this talk today. As Lauren said, I kind of have my roots in the area I went to school at Duke and I started, I spent many, a steamy summer and Duke forests and, uh, some of the tax and the UNC forest collecting field data. Um, this was back right over after hurricane Fran So there were lots of really hot days, cold calling all over all the hurricane debris and trees that had fallen down, coming home covered in ticks and sugars. And somehow through all of that, I still at the end of the day, wanted to stay in the field of conservation, um, was lucky enough to start working for NatureServe down in Durham where I spend time in kind of the flatwoods swamps and did cool monitoring projects out in the Blue Ridge and some of those Blue Ridge cove habitats. So I have a deep, deep appreciation of the biodiversity of the Carolinas. Um, and it’s, it’s fun to at least pretend I’m back there. Um, since that time, you know, I’ve moved up to NatureServe headquarters in DC, unfortunately they don’t really let me outside anymore and I’m, I’m pretty much chained to my computer. Um, but I am, you know, for privileged to work with this, this whole network of scientists across the United States and with cutting edge, um, data science and technology tools to apply analysis and generate new understanding of patterns and buyer diversity and then conservation need. Um, and while it’s, you know, it’s not getting my feet dirty in the field, uh, it’s still is, has been rewarding and particularly rewarding has the work I’ve done in the past two years, um, helping to lead the map of biodiversity importance project So this is a major national initiative involving hundreds of scientists to pull together the data we have and the information we have about rare plants and animals across the country and figure out which places are most critical for protection The fun thing about this talk is it’s really provided me an opportunity to go back and, you know, dig into the results that came out of, of that huge mapping project and think about what they mean on the ground, um, and what they mean about, about conservation action and conservation needs and in a place that I care deeply about. Um, so I’m very excited to share some of that with you today In many ways, you know, the story of the map of the biodiversity importance follows a similar trajectory, uh, to that personal path. I just shared It’s a story about an army of field workers, scientists across the country, going out, getting those figure bites,

collecting data on, um, the heritage of our country. Um, it’s also a story about synthesis and analysis and cutting edge technology and generating new knowledge from that data that’s been collected over those decades And it’s also a story about then bringing that information back to the ground and figuring out what does this mean for how we need to act to, uh, really make an impact in, in the face of what is a six era of extinction in our planet’s history. You know, we’re at this critical point where species are being lost mostly due to anthropogenic impacts and using this data and science and human knowledge to, to, to make an impact there, um, is, is kind of a, both something we need to do And something that it’s exciting that we’re somewhat well positioned to do So with that, all I’ll jump in. Um, you know, the really big question, uh, I’m addressing with this talk is, is this one of how do we know where to protect? Um, you might know a lot about a particular species or a particular place, but writ large what’s important And where do we focus our energy? There’s been numerous scientific studies trying to get at that question Here’s one that’s particularly interested in some work by Clint Jenkins and switch took range maps for vertebrates and free use across the U S and kind of stacked them up, looked at where you had range, limited species with few conservation opportunities where those weren’t protected and the current conservation estate and identified kind of these hotspots of biodiversity importance. This is, is really interesting work But when you think about how to apply this on the ground, there are some real limitations. You know, one, one notable shortcoming here is vascular plants aren’t included beyond freeze. When we think about buyer diversity, you know, there’s more out there than just animals and the big powering trees And so to really understand where we need to act, um, we need knowledge about those other vascular plants The other sort of shortcoming here is this data’s pretty broad scale It’s based on big species ranges It’s hard to take this to your, your County or, uh, you know, the national forest you’re working in and, and know what this means about specific places to act And the amount of biodiversity importance project really sought to, to address both those shortcomings NatureServe as a network of state natural heritage member programs we work with are kind of uniquely equipped to help fill in those gaps in the conservation picture And this is a story about how we do that. Uh, before I go further though, I kind of be interested to know more about how familiar the audience is with NatureServe. So, um, I’m going to ask, yeah, there’s, there’s the pole So take a minute and submit your hands here How familiar are you with NatureServe? And then how familiar are you familiar? Are you with state natural heritage programs? Give us a second. And then It’s like, most people have heard it All right. So here are the results, which is it’s pretty promising And most, most people are at least about a half have heard of natures or before, or are pretty familiar with our work. Um, more people have heard of the state natural heritage program. Um, but there’s at least a number of you who are less familiar with what we’re all about. So before I go any further, I’m gonna share a little more information about, about who we are and what we do. Um, so at our heart and NatureServe is, uh, the hub of a network of member programs who work together to collect, analyze, and share scientific information about plants, animals, and ecosystems We have member organizations throughout that Western hemisphere, we’re particularly strong in the U S and Canada, and within the United States, most of our member are the, what are often called natural heritage programs, which are housed in each state So within these programs, you know, there’s scientists out in the field collecting information on the biodiversity

within the state. And that information is unused by, um, really diverse audiences by government and industry and the military and conservation groups make decisions about economic development and conservation NatureServe role in this network is to really facilitate, um, consistency across all these different programs and enable this data to flow up and be able to be used together. Um, and that will make a little bit more sense as I talk about, uh, this particular product, uh, project, um, in North Carolina, where many of you are the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program is our member program in the state. It’s part of the state government, um, and is, is a pretty one of, one of the strong programs in our network. Um, so if you don’t already know much about them, I heard you to learn Sure So at NatureServe in our network, we’re focused on these key questions You know, what, what is it? So we do a lot with taxonomy and classification providing the common language that we can use to discuss and track and measure elements of conservation important We do a lot of work mapping where those species and ecosystems are found, and I’m going to go into a lot more detail on that in the rest of this presentation. Um, we also work to, um, assess how these species and ecosystems are doing. You know, if, if we want to know where we’re actions are needed for conservation, um, you need to know which species are at risk. And so we do a lot to, um, assess the, the conservation status ranks species, according to their conservation needs. Um, as you’ll see today, um, we then turn that information into knowledge. Like, can people help people figure out what actions will help? So, so what do we do now? Um, and then increasingly we’re doing work to, to track whether those actions are working and monitoring, monitoring trends, um, and, and the status of buyer diversity over time across the network, we track almost a hundred thousand different species and ecosystems. And as you can see from this chart, uh, a majority of those are plants and invertebrates This makes us a little bit unique in the conservation world. Um, you know, there’s a lot of organizations focused on vertebrates and kind of the cute fuzzy creatures. But if you think of the diversity of life on earth, that’s really just a fraction of what’s out there And what’s kind of in our domain to make sure it stays on the planet And so NatureSserve and our member programs do uniquely, um, you know, really focused on those plants and invertebrate animals as well. Um, and then in terms of documenting locations, we have almost a million records of places on the ground where we’ve delineated areas of conservation and importance for plants, vertebrates and invertebrates ecosystems And for those elements we track, we then do the step of assessing their conservation status So using consistent methods across the United States, um, we kind of rank ecosystems. We rank animals and plants, you know, is this something that’s critically imperiled, or is this something that’s more secure? And we don’t need to worry quite as much about we then make this information available to the people who need it. Um, so, you know, it’s no good to collect information and build databases If we can’t get that into the hands of decision makers, NatureServe Explorer is the premier way we do this for the public Um, you know, we work closely with governments and, and other NGOs and industry, but so the general user NatureServe Explorer is kind of the way to do a quick pick up that If I can sell Um, or one species, this is the type of information we maintain So I’m pulling up the NatureServe Explorer record online on NatureServe for, for Gray’s Lily, this kind of cool species of really beautiful species of plant found in the Southern Appalachians. Um, you can see here, we have mapped information, um, where it occurs We have status information on where it’s at risk, and we have read of other, other data on classification, conservation, status management recommendations, um, all kinds of great stuff out there So that’s all great, you know, that’s um,

but the heart blood of what we do, but what I’m most interested in talking about today is how that information helps us know where we need to protect. Um, and the, the really essential kernel there is that, what, where is it question? Um, you know, how do we know where at risk species are found? I mentioned before that we have, you know, over a thousand scientists, part of the nature serve network, this includes people who are out there in all 50 States, you know, on the ground, in those cave, openings tracking, rare species, um, and, um, Doing so in a way where that data can be rolled up into our central databases So the map display now is showing that the documented occurrence data that we maintain across the country, this is for all tracks species So using the conservation status information that we also maintain, take a slightly different look, and these are documented occurrences of just the very most imperiled species. Do you want that information’s really useful? And you know, there’s no other data out there like it. Um, but it does have shortcomings when you’re trying to answer that question of where on the last here is kind of zooming in to some of that documented occurrence data for a single species This happens to be the frosted flatwoods salamander, which occurs in the coastal, plain Those Blue dots show you where the species has been documented, but we know this is not everywhere this species occurs So the harsh reality is that there are not unlimited resources for field inventories and thus our data on where things have been seen. You know, they’re never going to give us a full picture of where this species is likely to occur under predicts, occupied area, over predicts unoccupied area And the accuracy is really dependent on the sampling effort because of this When people are doing things like those Jenkins maps that I shared previously, they often use range maps The us fish and wildlife service provides range maps for all threatened and endangered species. And, you know, within these boundaries or places are saying, yeah, you need to be worried about the salamander The problem with data like that is it is so broad that it’s often not even useful So if you’re interested in building a road and somebody tells you, you have to worry about the salamander anywhere in these orange areas, you know, your hackles might go up because, you know, it’s not going to be everywhere in those orange areas at the same time, if you’re trying to identify a particularly valuable parcel of land for conservation easement, these broad polygons are not going to help you there either So the solution to that is habitat modeling for the past few years, since this has largely been my world, we’ve been taking that documented occurrence data and intersecting it with the vast, vast world of spatial data that’s become available over the last decade or so, you know, things representing terrain and climate and land, cover, and soils If you take where you’ve seen a species intersected with those, those different characterizations of the environment, you can model out where else on the landscape, you have similar conditions And we do this with some fancy statistics We do it with machine learning on very powerful computers, but ultimately what you get in the end is a map This is a habitat suitability model for the frosted flatwood salamander The places in yellow are those places on the landscape where conditions are most similar to places of species These are the places that are most likely to support the salamander Here’s another view of that result a little bit bigger on the left, and then on the right, we’ve applied a kind of scientifically, scientifically defined threshold to show just those areas with the highest suitability in that If we want it It could be a little bit more inclusive, a little bit more protective Say if you were giving this data to someone, trying to figure out the impact of a road, we might drop that threshold a bit and pull in a bit more habitat, but at least, you know, where this leaves us is with a much more precise picture, um, and a much more complete picture of places where given species is likely So on the left, you see the data we started with the documented occurrences and this broad range

on the right. We now have this pretty precise map of places This species is likely to be not guaranteed to be, but likely to be And when we do a comparison of the area involved, you know, starting with those range maps, looking at that, the areas predicted as a highest suitability, we’re dropping two orders of magnitude in the amount of land area we’re focused on Even with the more inclusive threshold we drop an order of magnitude So we can really narrow in on the places that are important because I’m talking at a Botanic garden. Um, here’s a similar example for a plant This is the one I pulled up earlier in NatureServe Explorer, Gray’s Lily, um, on the left, you see the data that the fish and wildlife service shares, um, and the documented occurrence data. And on the other side, we have our map of high suitability habitat. Um, so what, what the map of buyer diversity importance is, is, uh, an effort to scale up this sort of modeling, create habitat models for over two thousands of the nation’s very most imperiled species and aggregate that data up So we’re not thinking, you know, just where does one salamander occur? Where do you have concentrations on the landscape of imperiled species? And these are the places to focus our conservation efforts Um, one of the things that’s really unique about this project and that hadn’t been possible with things like, like the Jenkins analysis I shared previously is that we didn’t include just vertebrates And we included over 1600 vascular plants in our analysis building models for each of these individual species, and then stacking them up We included aquatic invertebrates and tetrapods, and even in parallel pollinators And this really just had never been done before and never had been done before at the scales we’re talking about So before I launch in to a bunch of maps and data and graphics that are coming out of this effort, um, I wanted to step back a little and give you a sense of what those maps and charts really represent If you’re a few of the plants that are included in the map of biodiversity importance, and here I’m focused just on things within North Carolina, but imagine that kind of the grander and the glory of this diversity of species is, is just multiplied when you expand it So here’s swamp pink. Um, this kind of showy pink plant occurs in mountain bogs in this state It grows on socks as tall as my fourth grade son, you know, pretty incredible species. Um, but one that’s been assessed as vulnerable by nature serve and is listed as threatened under the endangered species act. And that’s because it’s, it’s threatened by development and degradation of its wetland pad Another species we included is the Buck Creek Aster So this plant occurs only on surfing team soils on sound and the Navajo national forest Those particular source girls are especially rare in the Southern Appalachians. You just don’t have a lot of them And thus this plant is especially rare. Um, it’s confined to an area that’s only about 120 years big along a single watershed, and you’re really unlikely to find any other populations of it out there anywhere else in the world Another plant we included is, uh, the white This is a plant that, uh, is, um Occurs in an area that’s a little bit unappreciated for its biodiversity and not for the month. Um, but coming out of West Maps, recent study on plant extinctions, this is an area of the country that has been identified as one, in which many species have already been lost, have already gone extinct and like its former neighbors, the white Iris said is also imperiled with threats, including development and invasive species, just a couple more wild ginger. Um, it was recognized as its own species Um, recently back in 2017, it occurs on the blue escarpment. And I, I don’t know, I think this plant is beautiful. It’s one of my favorites, um, Gray’s Lilly, which we’ve already mentioned another beauty from the blue Ridge mountains And, uh, of course a survey of the, the cool plants of the Carolinas would not be complete without a current diverse plant from the coastal Plains So here’s your Venus flytrap So back to the boring data and maps, um, we,

with the map of biodiversity important, we took that species distribution modeling and we carried that process out at kind of a grand scale So for those 2,216 species, um, and the process that we took for that, you know, started with our network occurrence data with that 50 years of field work, and then, uh, incorporated those environmental predictor layers, data science to bear. Um, we had Microsoft’s AI for earth program supporting this effort and giving us the super computers, uh, that we needed to do this, this huge processing of all these data. Um, we didn’t stop there though And one of the unique things about this undertaking is that instead of just dumping all the data into a computer and trusting what came out, we were able to take those models and run them by the nature serves network of expert botanists who ologists and, um, you know, people across the country who really know these species and make sure that the outputs of these machine learning processes make sense. Um, once we had gone through that step, um, and tweak things as appropriate or use different methods to represent some species as appropriate, we stack those data up into biodiversity hotspot maps, um, and then are now in this process of understanding what those maps are telling us for conservation strategies. And I’ll be able to talk a little bit about that Mmm So as I mentioned, we started with the documented occurrence data Here’s just another sampling of the diversity species included in this project and the data we have from our network, um, where these things occur on the ground We did pull in data from additional sources, um, and the NatureServe network has the most comprehensive get a data set of records for these [unable to translate], but you know, there is other data out there and to the extent possible with 2000 species to work with, we, we pulled that in as well. Um, we then, as I mentioned, uh, built a library of environmental predictors So there’s been an incredible amount of work over the past decades, really federal agencies and institutions to generate data that characterizes the environment, um, of our country And we able to make use of all this great data to build these models So things like hydrologic, connectivity, or summer temperatures and distance to different land, cover types and swelled variables, these all provide the information We need to understand what’s going on on the ground and characterize important environments and not going to go into too much detail on this slide suffice to say, we did a whole bunch of really fancy math, and we burned a lot of computer cores, very hot doing these detailed analyses, running these statistics and, and TV now, um, you know, patterns or species distribution. And ultimately, as I said before, where this left us was with these, these models that are hypothesis of where species may occur Here’s an example of what one of those models look like for a salamander I believe this is in North Carolina. Um, and the model is, is we’re showing it in this review tool we built. So once again, we’re using technology to get the data to the people who know the species and allow them to comment on what they’re seeing, let us know how well the model performs, you know, is this a good representation of habitat? Could we do better? Um, taking all that, um, this is where we ended. Um, so for each of, you know, the 2200 species or the six stone gear, we end with these habitat models. So these, these are predictions of where you’re likely to find the species And then it’s the fun part where we get to stack those up and see what that reveals about areas that are important before we go there though And I show you what we found I can pause a minute for any questions about our methods. Um, this might be a good time Yeah. We’ve had a couple of come in. Um, one was what are typical things you use to define the thresholds, I think came back when you were showing the map Um, okay, so I’m happy to speak to that

So as right as you’ll remember from the slide for each of these models, what comes out of the modeling process is this continuous surface of, you know, probably not going to be here to this matches where the species been documented elsewhere And in order to turn it into what’s on this screen is kind of, here’s your predicted habitat for the hop size or butterfly You need to set a threshold and there’s various ways this can be done There’s actually some statistical methods that can be used. Um, for many of the models, we kind of had a default that we would pick a threshold where that included every documented occurrence So cut it off at the place where you’re capturing every place where the species has been known to occur That’s one method you could use. Um, depending on the various factors, uh, we had, uh, a couple of different options we went to for the thresholds, but that model review staff was really important there So when we put the model results in front of a species experts, most of the time, the kind of comments we got were, you know, you’re showing way too much habitat for this species, or, you know, you’ve missed this population that occurs over here and by tweaking those thresholds based on those comments, um, we feel we were able to get to kind of a better final map All right, great. Uh, one quick thing, Regan. Um, when you turn to your left, we’re noticing a little bit of, um, cutting in and out of the dialogue. Um, so it may just be the wire of your headset. Um, we haven’t lost audio completely, but we’re noticing a little bit of fading in and out Okay. I’ll try not to turn to the last. Um, alright, thank you for that. Let me know if it becomes a problem Of course. Um, another question that came in, um, when you create your sustain, your suitability maps, um, do you ever include things like migratory paths or even just normal travel areas? Yeah, that’s a great question And it’s somewhat species specific for this project We really were focused on anywhere the species occurred So we did not make much of an attempt to differentiate between different types of habitat usage for the birds though. I’m sorry. I’m not remembering the exact details, but we put a lot of thought into that I think we I’d have to go back and think about what, what we landed on, but we did kind of confine the, the occurrence data that went into those models into a particular seasonal window And then thus the results I came out on the other side where we’re consistent with that as well. Okay In the interest of time I might keep going. Um, so we have, have time for more questions at the end. Um, but before I do, so I’m going to put another hole up. Um, as I, I mentioned, you know, where we left off and we had all these individual species models and we’re about to stack them up to get to our hotspots Now I want you to think particularly about plants because I’m assuming most people at, at the stock, since it’s hosted by the botanical garden, uh, are pretty interested in plants, but where do you think we might see areas, um, of, of particular importance? You know, what regions are you expecting to cop out? And you don’t need to be an expert here Just take a guess or several guesses Yes Alright. I’m actually getting a, hold off a few seconds before a couple slides before we share the results with you. Um, so we’ll, we’ll leave the, pull up her for another couple seconds. If you have any last, uh, us things put in. Um, but I’m going to go ahead with some slides and then we’ll come back with your results. Okay. So drum roll. Here we go I’m starting with all species. Here’s what we get This is the map of biodiversity importance product for species richness for all imperiled species. So coming out of, we say the map of biodiversity importance, but we’re actually produced a series of 15 different maps that took a few different looks at this data. Um,

both grouping all species together and then, uh, looking at different taxonomic groups and also looking at some different ways of quantifying biodiversity hotspots So this is the most simple, we just stacked all these, those species on top of each other What you miss with this is kind of the fact that not all species aren’t created equal, you know, there are imperiled bats in the Eastern United States with huge ranges, you know, they could occur anywhere And that species gets one point in this map, which is the exact same as, as a plant that occurs, you know, in one tiny particular bog So perhaps a better way to look at this data is something we call a Verity weighted richness index. So here again, we’re looking for all species, but we’ve scored each species according to its rarity So things with a big range count less than something that’s really a, you know, a very narrow endemic that only occurs in a very tight geography And this is the result we get for that across the whole us for all species And finally, here’s that same result The rarity weighted rich test math, but just looking at those 1600 vascular plants And I’m going to go ahead and share our poll results so we can see how this lines um with the maps or our folks show at seeing the poll results Yes, they should be seeing them now. Okay Great. So Southern coastal plain, definitely Um, that was recently identified as kind of one of the new fire diversity hotspots on a global scale And we see that in this plant map, a lot of, of diversity showing up the Southern Appalachians as well, you know, really glow, um, California is, I want to say California is on fire, but it, it’s probably not the best thing to say cause of it. It is on fire, but it’s, it’s, unfired with fire diversity and given, you know, the global rents and climate change and actual fires, um, this kind of result, I don’t know, to me, it brings home the impacts of some of those global changes Um, one of the really interesting things we’ve found is take a look in the Southwest at Colorado and Arizona and Utah. Um, I noticed in the poll results that this is not an area most people thought would glow. Um, but it really, really does when you’re, you’re talking about imperiled plants. Um, no, I think botanists working in this region are really aware of the unique buyer diversity they have, but it hasn’t, it hasn’t prior to, to mapping like this shown up as a place of global biodiversity importance It wasn’t in those maps. I, I showed ’em from Jenkins earlier, so that, that’s one of the really interesting findings coming out of this study Let’s zoom in on the Southeast of it. Um, so here look at Texas So there’s all kinds of neat stuff going on in Texas You do see along the border where we have some of those Southern species coming in, you know, just on the edge of their range with Mexico. Um, if you look at the Edwards plateau, that’s this really unique area that’s fire maintained with these limestone uplands a little to the South by San Antonio, you have this really, uh, uh, dry Sandy extreme environment that has some interesting plant diversity there. And then over around the area of Houston, that’s the Western edge of the coastal plain. Um, and you start, you see some of that, that those patterns of high biodiversity that we see throughout the coastal plain, um, go head over to Texas or Florida. Um, you can see the goal is really, uh, really glowing. Um, again, that’s some of that coastal plan habitat in the middle of the state There’s a Lake Wales Ridge. Um, this is an area that was once the coastline dune habitat 2.5 million years ago. Um, and you have a bunch of unique Relic species that have evolved in that habitat over time since, and then down in South Florida, near Miami and the keys where you have species coming in from The Bahamas and the West Indies and becoming isolated and speciating over time, just really high biodiversity, uh, quick towards are the rest of the South moving inland a bit I know somebody said they were calling in from Nashville So look over in Tennessee where we have these really unique cedar glade

habitat So these are dry habitats that are kind of stuck in the middle, these little islands of dryness in the sea of the wet East. Um, and here you found species that are more related to their cousins in the West and the Midwest, and it’s kind of a unique unique system. Um, and the Ozarks as well is kind of this, this glowing splash, um, where you have Eastern hardwood, forest, Southern pine forest, and the great Plains all coming together. And then of course, North Carolina, um, where you have that splash of color along the coastal plain And of course the Southern Appalachians as everyone predicted. Um, but also some interesting areas here in the middle of the state over by Fayetteville, um, where management of the landscape for military training at Fort Bragg has had this unintended consequences of maintaining habitats, wherever plants would flourish. Um, so I could keep looking at those patterns all day, but I, I do want to go back to the big picture, you know, what does this information, tell us about places to protect and strategies for protection Um, the last few considered only where things were kind of rare and range limited here, we’re looking at a version of the math that also takes into account the degree to which habitats have already been protected. Um, the green blobs on the map are protected areas that are managed for biodiversity and the bright yellow colors now are areas where you have range, limited species that are largely unprotected And this map again is particular for imperiled vascular plans Here’s that same math Um, but for all species, just because it’s fun and interesting to look at. Um, and then in order to think about what this means for protection strategies, um, one thing we did was apply a threshold to that mat to identify what we’re call calling areas of unprotected biodiversity importance Uh, and this is just, just a different way of looking at the data, pulling out the, the highest of the high. Um, and I’ll, I’ll talk a little bit more about that as Mmm So with those results able to answer a few interesting questions. Um, the first is really how, how does including vascular plants change the picture that emerges about what we know of areas that are important for conservation I already pointed out the new findings about, uh, Arizona and Utah, one of those Southwestern mountains. Um, one interesting way to look at this is, is going back to that math I started that series of maps. I started with, um, of biodiversity hotspots based on just for bricks and freeze Let’s take a minute and, and just zoom in on that free maps So the colors and scales are a little different, but we’re looking at roughly the same idea places where we have ranger stick range restricted under protected plants So the key difference is that the map on the right only includes trees And then the big takeaway here is really that, you know, without the full diversity of vascular plants represented, you’re missing a big part of the picture, you know, especially in places like the Southwest in the Ozarks in Texas and the Houston name. Um, so I, I found this a pretty interesting result that was just looking at different groups of plants, but, but what about when we compare places of importance for vascular plants versus places of importance for birds, mammals and amphibians? So I, I mentioned before in the absence of additional data, birds, mammals and amphibians are often used as a stand in to identify the places most important for conservation What we find though, when we identify the highest scoring places for imperiled species in each category is that those patterns are really different In fact, there’s only 2% of overlap between the places we’ve identified as important for plants and the places that are identified as important when only birds mammals are So, um, [inaudible] for a second. Um, I want to look at this a kind of different way and encourage you all to sort of mentally step away from our world on zoom or get there’s a pandemic going on and close your eyes for a second So take yourself to a unique place and a unique and

curl plant that inspires you really do it, close your eyes So maybe you’ve gone to the mountains and you’ve just stepped out of the forest I’m here with grassy bald and the sun was bearing down on you and a population of grays Lily, and that’s kind of blowing in the wind, or maybe you’ve headed to the coastal plain and your feet are sinking in the mud As you observe a group of green pitcher plants and some insects that have been drawn in by the nectar I’m suspecting, or maybe you want to take yourself all the way out to a Canyon in Utah, and you can look up at the wet rocks above you and see the purple flowers of McGuire’s Klingberg, uh, Primrose. I mean, those rocks, you know, one of the only, the only places place in the world where that particular species occurs So just take a minute and enjoy that place Alrighty. I hope you enjoyed your journey If your name happens to be John, you can keep your eyes close and stay a little longer, but the rest of you open them up and let that place go So I’m guessing that probably about 2% of the population is named John, which gives us hopefully at least one person on the call with that name, that 2% are, are the lucky ones that we’re the place you picked overlapped with somewhere where you happen to have at risk vertebrates that well for the other 98% of you, your chosen place is, is part of what is at risk of falling through the holes in our conservation net, when imperil plans aren’t explicitly considered in order to maintain the biodiversity of our nation We can’t neglect plants in our conservation planning, and we need to incorporate more of these built time filter approaches into our conservation strategies. So what, what strategies will help? Um, one of the, the things I find pretty exciting about the data coming out of the math of buyer diversity importance is that we have these precise maps for individual species that can help us understand who has stewardship responsibility for these speeds is, you know, I do want to emphasize that, that the models we created are really just first-generation models This was a batch process for thousands of species and at NatureSErve, we’re working really hard to refine those, but even with the sort of imperfect data, we’re able to answer questions like where does most of this, this plant’s distribution occur? Um, the example up on the screen is Henderson’s Horkelia, a critically imperiled species in Oregon and California And you can see that it’s pretty much 100% sound within national forest. So for this particular species, if we want to keep it on the planet, the us forest service has a very, very large role to play Here’s another plant from out West, uh, Cronquist’s Phacelia, um, this particular area you’ll see grand staircase, Escalante national monument in the center. Um, some of you may remember that the few years ago, a decision was made by the administration to remove part of that national monument and turn it back over to the BLM, open it up for oil and gas drilling and various extract and uses this plant happens to primarily fall exactly in that area. That, that was recently opened up for multiple uses. You know, if we’re going to keep it on the planet, um, we’re going to need to think carefully about how that permitting of those, those extractive activities are carried out. Um, so in, in thinking through, you know, just for those plants occurring on federal lands, um, you know, what do we know about how they’re managed? It turns out that across the nation, over half of the Imperial plants included in the math of biodiversity importance are for on, on lands that are open for multiple uses in the East. So the picture’s a little different, and since we’re in the East, I want to talk about that. Um, and so one more quick poll, um, where do you think most imperiled plants are found mostly on public lands or mostly on private? And I’m

just going to give a minute for this because I’m going long All right. Five second warning. Get your guesses Okay. I’m going to share those results I think the results are right now So 76% of you said mostly on those private unprotected lands, your actual results from the project So this graph shows for all the different paths about my groups We looked at the proportion on federal lands or state lands federals and blue state is in green. And then private is in the orange colors The things that are lighter shaded more than half their distribution are some lands in that category. The darker shading is 90%. So pretty much all And what we found for plants is actually that it’s about half and half nationwide. There are a large, very large number of plants that occur on forest service and BLM lands The picture is a little different though in the Southeast In the Southeast 321 of a 400 and something odd plants, um, are on those largely unprotected lands. You know, federal protection is, is a much smaller part of a story And so our protection strategies need to be a little bit more diverse. Um, you know, there’s impact second being made at the local level There’s plants that all on lands that might be owned by the federal government military lands that aren’t explicitly managed for conservation. Um, so the, the breadth of strategies, um, we need to employ is, is far greater Good news is, you know, we do have various strategies for conservation of, of species on private lands Here’s a look of at the Modi results in Virginia and the yellow dots on this map are places where we have conservation easements There’s a ton of conservation easements out there What these results can help us do a better job of is make sure that the locations of those easements are aligned with the places where they can have the greatest impact. You know, what we want is more white falling on tops of the yellow, where we have species that are particularly at risk, just to bring it close, little closer to home for you, those of you in the Triangle, you’re our results for all species across North Carolina Here’s the outline of, uh, the, the Carolina forest. Um, and well, this isn’t in one of the most, um, significant areas of the state. We do have, um, a confirmed occurrence of Tories mountain mint on our near the forest. That’s, uh, imperiled, species, as well as predictive habitat for two other, uh, species that are included in the movie map. Um, so there’s there’s management that can be done, you know, right in your backyard that matters. And finally, I just want to share, um, one, one last finding, um, from this study and that really is, um, you know, related to our ability to make an impact almost anywhere So in the bottom left year is our map of areas of highest importance for all species. It’s a big map in the middle shows distance to that, those areas. And what we see from this, I’m going to switch to a different view. Now, the, the green is showing, you know, a 30 mile buffer around those areas of highest importance And what we found is that 90% of the population of the United States lives within 30 miles of these areas of importance. You know, there’s opportunities for conservation of our nation’s very most imperiled species, pretty much in most people’s backyard with, I want to leave you with just a couple, um, closing thoughts. Um, I hope identified straight in today that, you know, bites happy and into the promise of kind of data science and new technologies, and combine that with human knowledge, we really are able to produce new information that equips us to make smart decisions about how to balance conservation and development We’re able to generate information to direct our conservation efforts at a time when the planet needs it more than ever continued investment in the science that got us here is a pressing need. Um,

the math of buyer diversity importance was a great first step, but we still have a lot of work ahead. Um, I mentioned that the models we produced really are just first-generation models If we really want to think on a per species level, we want to make the maps even better. Um, and we’re doing a lot of work in NatureServe now to do that We’re also trying to add more species. You know, the things we took on in this project were just the tip of the knife. You know, the things that are the very most at risk, but there is a lot more out there. Um, we’re working to get that data into the hands of decision makers and we’re figuring out how to keep that information up to date. Um, and so I just encourage you. If, if, if any of this work inspires you, um, you know, to consider how you might support the development of that science, because getting support for it is a, uh, uh, a constant challenge. Um, one of the things we’re rolling out in this fall is the ability for donors to adopt a species and NatureServe Explorer and directly support this work through that means. So I would encourage people to check that out. Uh, the other thing thought I want to leave you with is really just that point from the last slide that opportunities to make an impact are all around you Um, in the Southeast that’s particular true, laid true There’s a ton of biodiversity, and there’s also a community, particularly a plant conservationists that are really leading nationally in this effort to get plants incorporated into conservation plans. There’s been, uh, the plant conservation alliances, Southern grasslands initiative, the degree to which plants are being added to state wildlife action plans These are all positive developments. Um, you know, the Southeast is a really special place and biodiversity of the, the U S is pretty special. You know, you don’t need to go to the rainforest to find something that needs protection and that we’re empowered to protect And so I just, you know, ask you all to, to appreciate that beauty and, and look for ways you can help keep it on the planet with us And with that all, uh, Nope, we have negative one minute We had time for a couple of questions. Thank you, Regan And thank you everyone for joining us for such a great talk. Um, those of you that do have time to stick around, we do have a few questions that we’ll answer, but for those who do have to go, uh, we ask again that you complete the survey that will pop up when you leave zoom And to let you know that we do have a variety of virtual and in person, including some outdoor programs offered for this fall, we’ll hope you’ll join us for some more programs Also our fall plant sale is happening now this year It is a in members only plant sale with ordering online If you aren’t a member join now to take part in our fall plant sale and our online plant sales to the public, we’ll reopen mid October And with that, I’m going to turn it over to David to ask Regan a few questions for those of you who can say thank you again for attending And I hope to see all of you at the gardens soon. David, what questions do we have? Yeah. Thank you all for submitting these great questions. Um, first, have you looked at species interactions as a factor? Um, this person wonders if, for example, there are birds that rely on insects that rely on specific plant species Yeah, that’s a great question. So for this, this per for the map of biodiversity importance, we have not. Um, one of the, I mentioned before that these are kind of first generation models and there’s a lot more science to be done, um, especially for the pollinators I think we would have wanted to spend more time, um, trying to first get the plant distributions, right And then go on and model the pollinators that depend on them. Um, and there’s probably various examples similar, but you can think of for different species. Um, an important point related to that is, you know, we can grow this data into these machine learning algorithms and get something useful out. And in general, our, our expert reviews indicated that we were getting useful information out, but on a per species basis, you really do want to do that tweaking and think about what specific environmental factors you should build into your modeling then, um, there’s, there’s a lot more work to be done there Thank you for that. Um, another one that came in, why do you find many big cities in the biodiversity hotspots? So you shouldn’t be seeing the actual location

of the city of a city in a hotspot because we do use land cover variables and many of our models that will exclude those places. Um, there’s we probably need to zoom into a area and figure out exactly what’s what’s going on. Um, but I, I would encourage you maybe get it to email me. Um, if you have questions about a specific area and I think in front of you, the full step story there, Oh, I love the next question Can I answer that? Or at least that’s available to use, um, so all, so the aggregated data, those 15 maps that make up the map of biodiversity importance are all available on ESRI’s Living Atlas, they’re out there for the world to use And we really hope people do use them nature sort of is working very hard now to figure out the best venue for getting the individual species models out to the public. Um, there’s various, uh, there’s some hurdles there both in terms of the sheer volume of information. Um, there’s, as I mentioned, particular models that we really would want to refine before it’s used for something other than kind of these general aggregations and roll-ups Um, but we have a habitat modeling initiative at nature servant within our network where we’re actively trying to figure out how to get these maps out and eventually to make the models available on nature, serve Explorer Um, with that in mind, would you be willing to just share some links that we can then send out to our participants after this talk? Yeah Yes. So on this last page I have up, there’s a link there to more information on, um, the map of biodiversity, importance and habitat modeling. I will send that out, uh, share some of those as well as some other information, um, that you can start Um, one more question, who is the pine of Pines ground plum? Oh my gosh. I want to say it’s my low tide. My old boss said nature serve, but I don’t actually know if that’s true Considering he teaches at the Garden as well. I think that’s a great answer So it’s, it’s a Tennessee species and he’s a Tennessee guy So if it’s not true, it should be Alan Weakley jumped in and said it is true Excellent Yep. We’ve got several people confirming it is Milo’s plant And we had one more person write in. Um, let’s say she visited the last link or one of the links slide that asks for arc GIS credentials Yeah. There should be a version of that, that you don’t need credentials for So I will figure that out and I will make sure I share that with the data Wonderful. Well, with that, I think we’ve gone through all the questions Oh, great. Well, thank you all so much

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