Patrick R. Huber

University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States

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Publications (10)53.22 Total impact

  • Ryan Hill, Patrick R. Huber, Steven E. Greco
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    ABSTRACT: Background/Question/Methods The majority of humans now live in cities with much of the remaining land increasingly comprised of working landscapes. If native ecosystems and species are to survive, conservation planners no longer have the option of ignoring conservation opportunities in urban and agricultural areas. For planning to be effective, it should address multiple spatial and temporal scales. Here we use the American River Parkway (ARP) in Sacramento, California to examine planning strategies for multiple scales within human-dominated landscapes. To situate the ARP within a broader spatial context we use a combination of Marxan reserve selection analyses and least cost connectivity models to identify areas of statewide and regional conservation importance and the spatial relationship of the ARP to these areas. Next, we use recently completed work from a nearby river system to examine the potential effects of spatial scale on landscape connectivity for several native animal species. To address local biodiversity needs, we demonstrate a prototype tool we have developed that uses Marxan optimization software to aid plant palette selection for restoration activities, including providing resources for a documented 59 butterfly species. Finally, temporal issues are addressed by comparing current land cover and species presence with historical data. Results/Conclusions The ARP was not found to play a major role in a potential interconnected conservation network in the ecoregion. However, it does play an important role in local ecological patterns and processes. An exception lies in the west end of the Parkway near the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers where it could play a role in linking the Yolo Bypass with areas to the north. Results from the landscape connectivity analysis demonstrate the significant effects that spatial extent can potentially exert on outcomes and strategies for conservation planning. Our plant palette analysis demonstrates the success of the tool prototype as well as potential novel uses of the popular Marxan software in non-spatial capacities. Our temporal analyses show that 92% and 99% of riparian and valley oak woodland (respectively) within 1 mile of the American River have been lost to human-caused conversion. Freshwater wetlands and grasslands have only lost 11% and 18% (respectively) in comparison. Of the 23 rare species documented in the ARP in a statewide database, 3 have experienced local extirpations, with one species (Sacramento Valley tiger beetle) no longer extant in the ARP. These results can help managers make conservation decision within the ARP.
    99th ESA Annual Convention 2014; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Background/Question/Methods The sourcing of agricultural raw materials impacts natural systems and human wellbeing in many ways. Conversely, natural and societal drivers can lead to vulnerabilities in food supply chains. Efforts over several decades have identified many indicators associated with these impacts and vulnerabilities. However, these have suffered from the lack of a unified theory of sustainability resulting in confusion over the best suite of indicators for different sustainability concerns. To address this problem, we developed a graph database tool for use by Mars Inc and other stakeholders to help select useful indicators to quantify sustainability goals. We have included in the database more than 2,000 indicators that we identified from global assessments. Each of these indicators was linked with one or more issues (e.g. biodiversity) spanning natural, social, and economic systems. To test the efficacy of the database, we conducted analyses to identify a minimum covering set of indicators for the identified issues using both Marxan software and linear programming (LP), comparing the differences between algorithms. We have also begun linking indicators to datasets that measure them and developed a prototype process for Mars on groundnuts sourced from West Africa as a use case for these tools. Results/Conclusions We identified 44 major sustainability issues in our reviews, and developed 344 component issues to provide details for these issues, totaling 388 issues in our database. When we ran covering set analyses with linkages between issues and any indicators that provided information about them, minimum covering sets of 23-31 indicators were found to provide full coverage of the issues using the Marxan approach. The LP approach found 15-21 indicators that provided the same full coverage. Using stricter linkage criteria, the Marxan approach identified 141-203 indicators that provided full coverage of all issues while the LP approach identified 137-191 indicators. We expect future work to correlate and structurally link issues will further reduce the required number of indicators to a more manageable set. While these results can provide useful information to Mars and other users regarding the best indicators to track, the specific context of a given query will undoubtedly shape the results. Linking GIS data to some of these indicators for groundnut-producing regions of West Africa is an example of how a user such as Mars could best utilize this platform to further their sustainability goals. Future work will also address the usefulness, credibility, and legitimacy of the database indicators.
    99th ESA Annual Convention 2014; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Background/Question/Methods: Sourcing practices for raw agricultural materials impact both social and ecological systems. Simultaneously, societal and ecological drivers can result in vulnerabilities in food supply chains. A number of global environmental assessments have identified issues in sustainability to help understand and mitigate potential impacts and vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, these assessments are often conducted independently; the lack of a unified theory of sustainability has resulted in confusion surrounding essential sustainability considerations. We address this critical knowledge gap by reviewing sustainability issues included in 15 global assessments and recording sustainability issues into a single database using the language presented in the assessments. We then re-coded issues into a standardized, controlled vocabulary using the United Nation’s AGROVOC thesaurus. We repeated this process with sustainability communications from global food companies and academic literature on sustainable livelihoods. Finally, we used network analysis to evaluate the importance of sustainability issues, measured as network centrality, within and across global, corporate, and livelihoods sectors. Results/Conclusions: Our review identified 44 major sustainability issues, representing 318 component issues, and measured by more than 2,000 indicators. We classified issues according to four types of capital, defined as endowments or assets available to a population, based on the indicators used for their measurement. These included human capital (8 issues), natural capital (10 issues), physical/financial capital (6 issues), and social/political capital (21 issues). Network analysis indicated that natural capital issues were most central to global assessments and were also represented across corporate and livelihood sectors. The four most central issues – Water, Air & Climate, Biodiversity, and Land & Soil – were in the natural capital classification. The other issues with highest representation across sectors were Markets (71% representation) in social/political capital, Income (66% representation) in human capital, and Inputs (62% representation) in physical/financial capital. Excepting Inputs, the most central issues could be both directly impacted by sourcing of agricultural raw materials and could directly influence vulnerability of sourcing agricultural materials. The next steps of this work include evaluating how relationships among central (and peripheral) issues and their associated indicators can be used to mitigate impacts in agricultural supply chains and build resilience through sourcing raw agricultural materials.
    99th ESA Annual Convention 2014; 08/2014
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    ABSTRACT: Globally, urban areas are expanding, and their regional, spatially cumulative, environmental impacts from transportation projects are not typically assessed. However, incorporation of a Regional Advance Mitigation Planning (RAMP) framework can promote more effective, ecologically sound, and less expensive environmental mitigation. As a demonstration of the first phase of the RAMP framework, we assessed environmental impacts from 181 planned transportation projects in the 19 368 km2 San Francisco Bay Area. We found that 107 road and railroad projects will impact 2411–3490 ha of habitat supporting 30–43 threatened or endangered species. In addition, 1175 ha of impacts to agriculture and native vegetation are expected, as well as 125 crossings of waterways supporting anadromous fish species. The extent of these spatially cumulative impacts shows the need for a regional approach to associated environmental offsets. Many of the impacts were comprised of numerous small projects, where project-by-project mitigation would result in increased transaction costs, land costs, and lost project time. Ecological gains can be made if a regional approach is taken through the avoidance of small-sized reserves and the ability to target parcels for acquisition that fit within conservation planning designs. The methods are straightforward, and can be used in other metropolitan areas.
    Environmental Research Letters 06/2014; 9(6):065001. · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Reintroduction of native species to unoccupied portions of their historical range is a common management strategy to enhance the future viability of animal populations. This approach has met with mixed success, due to unforeseen impacts caused by human or other factors. Some of these impacts could potentially be mitigated through the use of anticipatory modeling coupled with appropriate management strategies prior to release. As part of an ongoing restoration program, we evaluated a portion of the former range of the tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes) in the Central Valley of California for potential reintroduction of a free-ranging herd. We used a new spatially explicit population model (HexSim) to analyze four different elk release scenarios. Each scenario corresponded to a different release location, and the model was used to compare simulated elk movement and population dynamics 25 years into the future. We also used HexSim to identify likely locations of human–elk conflict. Population forecasts after the 25-year period were highest (mean female population size of 169.6 per iteration) and potentially harmful barrier interactions were lowest (mean 8.6 per iteration) at the East Bear Creek site. These results indicate the East Bear Creek site release scenario as the most likely to result in a successful elk reintroduction, producing the most elk and generating the fewest human conflicts. We found HexSim to be a useful tool for this type of reintroduction planning and believe that other reintroduction efforts could benefit from this type of anticipatory modeling.
    Landscape Ecology 01/2014; 29(4). · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background/Question/Methods The tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes), a subspecies of ungulate endemic to central California, was nearly brought to extinction in the 19th century and is still extirpated from most of its natural range. As part of an ongoing restoration program, we evaluated a portion of its former range in the Central Valley for potential reintroduction of a free-ranging herd. We used a new spatially explicit population model (HexSim) to analyze four different elk release scenarios. Each scenario corresponded to a different release location, and the model was used to compare simulated elk population dynamics 25 years into the future. We also used HexSim to identify likely locations of human-elk conflict, the major cause of elk mortality in California’s tule elk herds. These sources of conflict were: urban areas, roads, and concrete-lined canals. We varied the maximum dispersal distance to test the sensitivity of the model to uncertainty surrounding this parameter, running each scenario three times using different values. Results/Conclusions Population forecasts at the four release locations after the 25-year period ranged from a mean of 84.2 (females only) to 169.4. Mean barrier interactions per iteration per release location ranged from 8.6 to 2,837.5. Populations were highest and potentially harmful barrier interactions were lowest at the East Bear Creek site. Conversely, populations were lowest and barrier interactions dramatically highest at the Kesterson site. These relationships held regardless of the maximum dispersal distance used. These results point to the East Bear Creek site release scenario as the most likely to result in a successful elk reintroduction. Changes in maximum dispersal distance had minimal effects on resulting population and barrier interaction numbers. We found HexSim to be a very useful tool for this type of reintroduction planning and believe that it will prove to be successful for other conservation planning studies as well. HexSim enabled us to rank management scenarios and to identify more likely future locations of detrimental human-elk interactions. The herd movement component of HexSim was especially critical for this study.
    97th ESA Annual Convention 2012; 08/2012
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    ABSTRACT: Background/Question/Methods The use of simulation models in conservation biology, landscape ecology, and other disciplines is increasing. Models are essential tools for researchers who, for example, need to forecast future conditions, weigh competing recovery and mitigation strategies, or evaluate the consequences of stressor interactions on one or more populations. On the other hand, model development is often time-consuming, costly, and limited by access to computer programmers. These constraints slow innovation, and they slow scientific progress. This symposium will highlight research advances made possible by recent developments in individual-based population modeling. Speakers in this symposium will, in part, describe work that has been conducted using a particularly flexible model named HexSim. This presentation will introduce the HexSim model, and will provide illustrations of its structure and use drawn from ongoing research. Results/Conclusions Using HexSim, we have developed a diverse range of simulation models that account for multiple species and stressor interactions, weigh possible recovery and reintroduction strategies, examine disease spread in an individual-based and spatially-explicit context, track changes in population genotypes over large spatial and temporal scales, and quantify landscape connectivity. Results from these studies will be used to illustrate how simulations models that are spatially-explicit, individual-based, and trait-based are advancing research in conservation biology, landscape ecology, and other disciplines.
    97th ESA Annual Convention 2012; 08/2012
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    ABSTRACT: Planning for safe passage of wildlife involves understanding the complexities of natural and human landscapes and incorporating connectivity assessments in local and regional planning. The present study describes a novel landscape analysis approach that was used in the context of municipal open space planning and regional land use and transportation planning. The project approach focused on two principles: (1) wildlife movement is not limited to formally managed reserves and corridors, but occurs across a gradient of land uses in the human landscape, and (2) that local and regional planners should be included in the process of identifying habitat connectivity needs and in turn incorporate connectivity in their own planning processes. In the first case, a species-specific combination of landscape disturbance and least-cost modeling was based on the concept that wildlife originate their movement from anywhere within suitable habitat and move in a least-costly direction. This results in a “least cost surface” of possible wildlife movement based on habitat preference and barriers to safe passage. In the second case, planners at two geographic scales – municipal and regional – were informed of landscape connectivity principles and their needs incorporated into the assessment itself. The least cost surface approach allows for the integration of modeled connectivity and disturbance with site-specific municipal planning activities. However, the potential for this type of local planning to be folded into local decision-making processes can be dependent on the interests of individual planners rather than being systematic in nature.
    Landscape and Urban Planning 03/2012; 105(s 1–2):15–26. · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BioOne (www.bioone.org) is a a nonprofit, online aggregation of core research in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences. BioOne provides a sustainable online platform for over 170 journals and books published by nonprofit societies, associations, museums, institutions, and presses.
    Natural Areas Journal 01/2011; 31:234-245. · 0.71 Impact Factor
  • Patrick R Huber, Steven E Greco
    Nature 11/2010; 468(7321):173. · 38.60 Impact Factor
  • Patrick R. Huber, Steven E. Greco, James H. Thorne
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    ABSTRACT: Conservation planning and resulting ecological target identification require selection of both a planning area boundary and temporal baseline or reference condition. We examined the effects that these selections can have on resulting amount and location of identified conservation targets. A gap analysis for California was conducted using five different sets of ecoregion boundaries to identify and compare existing conservation shortfalls in major land cover type representation in protected areas using a threshold of 30 percent per ecoregion per type as the minimum required for future ecological viability. Another gap analysis was run for a single ecoregion using two temporal baselines (current and pre-1900) for the land cover followed by a comparison of identified conservation needs. We found that the boundaries of different ecoregional schemes affected both the total area needed to meet the per ecoregion land cover conservation goals and the spatial location of underprotected land cover types. Choice of temporal baseline also had a significant effect on the establishment of conservation targets for the highly human-impacted Central Valley ecoregion. To meet the given conservation threshold using a historic rather than contemporary baseline, a substantial amount of restoration is required. The results can help identify areas of both conservation needs consensus and those that vary widely based on the chosen planning boundary, as well as aid in the selection of appropriate restoration targets in degraded ecosystems. Because all landscapes are continuous in nature and planning area boundaries are discrete, similar results are likely to be found in analyses conducted in other regions. La planificación conservacionista y la resultante identificación de objetivos ecológicos requieren la selección del límite del área de planificación y del punto de partida temporal o condición de referencia. En este trabajo examinamos los efectos que pueden tener tales selecciones sobre el número y localización de los objetivos de conservación que se identifiquen. Se aplicó un análisis de disparidad para California, mediante el uso de cinco conjuntos diferentes de límites eco-regionales, para identificar y comparar las deficiencias conservacionistas existentes en los principales tipos de cobertura del suelo representados en áreas protegidas, utilizando un umbral del 30 por ciento por eco-región por cada tipo, como mínimo requerido para la proyectada viabilidad ecológica. Se corrió otro análisis de disparidad para una región individual utilizando dos puntos de partida temporales (la actualidad y pre-1900) en cuanto a cobertura de la tierra se refiere, seguido de una comparación de las necesidades de conservación que se identificaron. Encontramos que los límites de los diferentes esquemas eco-regionales afectaban tanto el área total requerida para alcanzar las metas de conservación, según la cobertura de tierra de la eco-región, como la localización espacial de los tipos de cobertura de la tierra sin adecuada protección. La escogencia de puntos de partida temporales también tuvo efectos significativos sobre el establecimiento de objetivos de conservación en la eco-región del Valle Central, altamente afectada por impactos antrópicos. Para alcanzar los umbrales de conservación propuestos utilizando puntos de conservación históricos en vez de contemporáneos se necesitan sustanciales esfuerzos de restauración. Los resultados pueden ayudar a identificar áreas con necesidades de conservación por consenso y otras que varían ampliamente según los límites de planificación escogidos, lo mismo que contribuir a la apropiada selección de metas de restauración en los ecosistemas degradados. En tanto todos los paisajes son continuos en la naturaleza, mientras los límites de las áreas de planificación son discretos, es posible que análisis similares efectuados en otras regiones generen resultados parecidos.
    The Professional Geographer 08/2010; 62(3):409-425. · 1.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fresno County is a rich agricultural area that faces rapid urbanization and farmland conversion. The county is participating in a strategic, multi-county planning initiative aimed at making sustainable and region-ally cohesive land-use decisions. To inform this effort, we conducted a farmland conservation assessment and identified strategic farmlands for prioritization in future conservation efforts. We identified environmental and human predictor variables that affect the viability of existing farm-land, used a geographic information system (GIS) to integrate them, and created a countywide strategic farm-land conservation map. We compared our analysis to status quo methods of prioritization and found that with our model the spatial output of highly valued farmland was shifted, narrowed and located adjacent to some of the county's most urbanized areas. These findings are influencing growth policies and farmland conser-vation planning in Fresno County. T hroughout the United States, land consumption and the conversion of farmland to urban development are rising (Heimlich and Anderson 2001). Nationally, cropland declined by 52 mil-lion acres between 1982 and 2003, while developed land increased by 35 million acres (NRCS 2007). Farmland loss to conversion and fragmentation can dete-riorate agricultural economies and com-munities, and contribute to other social and environmental problems (Schiff-man 1983). One aspect of this problem is the lack of long-range land-use planning processes to conserve ag-ricultural lands. Land assessment is a critical tool for the development of strategic plans that address farmland conservation, but many regions lack the infrastructure and resources to conduct them. Geographic information systems (GIS) provide significant opportuni-ties to improve land assessment and farmland conservation planning. This study expands current frameworks by integrating GIS into a landscape-scale farmland conservation assessment of Fresno County. Farmland assessment frameworks
    California Agriculture 07/2010; 64(3):129-134. · 0.81 Impact Factor
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    Patrick R. Huber, Steven E. Greco, James H. Thorne
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    ABSTRACT: Ecological patterns and processes operate at a variety of spatial scales. Those which are regional in nature may not be effectively captured through the combination of conservation plans derived at the local level, where land use planning frequently takes place. Conversely, regional conservation plans may not identify resources important for conservation of intraregional ecological variation. We compare modeled conservation networks derived at regional and local scales from the same area in order to analyze the impact of scale effects on conservation planning. Using the MARXAN reserve selection algorithm and least cost corridor analysis we identified a potential regional conservation network for the Central Valley ecoregion of California, USA, from which we extracted those portions found within five individual counties. We then conducted the same analysis for each of the five counties. An overlay of the results from the two scales shows a general pattern of large differences in the identified networks. Especially noteworthy are the trade-offs and omissions evident at both scales of analysis and the disparateness of the identified corridors that connect core reserves. The results suggest that planning efforts limited to one scale will neglect biodiversity patterns and ecological processes that are important at other scales. An intersection of results from the two scales can potentially be used to prioritize areas for conservation found to be important at several spatial scales. KeywordsConnectivity-Reserve selection-Conservation planning-Central Valley-California-Ecoregion-MARXAN-Scale effects-Corridor
    Landscape Ecology 25(5):683-695. · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Government agencies that develop infrastructure such as roads, waterworks, and energy delivery often impact natural ecosystems, but they also have unique opportunities to contribute to the conservation of regional natural resources through compensatory mitigation. Infrastructure development requires a planning, funding, and implementation cycle that can frequently take a decade or longer, but biological mitigation is often planned and implemented late in this process, in a project-by-project piecemeal manner. By adopting early regional mitigation needs assessment and planning for habitat-level impacts from multiple infrastructure projects, agencies could secure time needed to proactively integrate these obligations into regional conservation objectives. Such practice can be financially and ecologically beneficial due to economies of scale, and because earlier mitigation implementation means potentially developable critical parcels may still be available for conservation. Here, we compare the integration of regional conservation designs, termed greenprints, with early multi-project mitigation assessment for two areas in California, USA. The expected spatial extent of habitat impacts and associated mitigation requirements from multiple projects were identified for each area. We used the reserve-selection algorithm MARXAN to identify a regional greenprint for each site and to seek mitigation solutions through parcel acquisition that would contribute to the greenprint, as well as meet agency obligations. The two areas differed in the amount of input data available, the types of conservation objectives identified, and local land-management capacity. They are representative of the range of conditions that conservation practitioners may encounter, so contrasting the two illustrates how regional advanced mitigation can be generalized for use in a wide variety of settings. Environmental organizations can benefit from this approach because it provides a platform for collaboration with infrastructure agencies. Alone, infrastructure agency mitigation obligations will not satisfy all greenprint objectives, but they can be a major contributor to the ongoing process of implementing ecologically sustainable regional plans.