Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems
Contact Information
  • Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems
  • 333 Broadway SE. Suite 115
  • Albuquerque, NM 87102-3497
  • 505-724-3660
  • 505-724-3688 (fax)

Case Studies

The SAVS has been applied to a number of case studies. An early version of the tool (the RMRS scoring system) was used to score the terrestrial vertebrates of the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico [Scanning the Conservation Horizon, page 96] [Friggens et al., 2013]. This project, completed in 2009, was sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and aimed to provide critical information regarding the nature of specific vulnerabilities within an important riparian habitat. This case study provides a good example of how scores are used rank species according to vulnerability and can be used to tease out specific sensitivities of species and taxonomic groups.

Spadefoot Toad
A couch’s Spadefoot Toad from Amistad National Recreational Area, Texas. Like most amphibians, these toads rely on water for fertilization and tadpole development and are therefore sensitive the availability of appropriate ponds. However, these species also have adaptations that may allow them to better survive future climate conditions including the capacity to aestivate, sometimes for several years, during dry periods and polymorphic tadpole form.

In collaboration with the University of Arizona and the Coronado National Forest, another study integrated the RMRS scoring system with spatially explicit range data for species of concern in Arizona (link to pdf of presentation). More information can be found in the final report [Coe et al., 2012].

With support from the DoD Legacy program, the most recent version (SAVS) of the scoring system was used to assess threatened and endangered species on two military installations in Arizona. Scores were calculated for 30 species and this information as well as information gained through the scoring process was integrated to produce comprehensive species accounts, fact sheets summarizing findings and full reports outlining critical conservation areas and management priorities:

The SAVS provides not only a mechanism for prioritizing species and management actions, but through compilation of species and climate data, leads naturally into the production of species accounts. For each species assessed through these case studies, we produced comprehensive accounts that compile climate relevant biological data, our best knowledge of future exposure to direct and indirect climate effects, and reasoning for score selection. These species accounts are available either through the pdfs linked above or by request and are made available to maintain transparency and foster the continual improvement of individual accounts and scores as new information become available. We encourage others using this tool to take advantage of the framework provided by this process to record the data and assumptions used during the scoring process as a way to synthesize climate related data and build a foundation for future research and analysis focused on the preservation of species.