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Northeast Regional Floristic Quality Assessment Tool Improves Regional Comparability of Ecological Communities

Posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 | Posted in News

Floristic Quality Assessment (FQA) measures a natural area’s ecological integrity based on the variety and abundance of native and non-native plants in an area. Recent research and analysis has led to the creation of a new ecoregional classification system based on standard coefficient of conservation (C value) that will dramatically improve the comparability of FQAs conducted around the region.

The FQA tool is used by state agencies to assess and monitor natural areas, and by scientists to compare the health of wetlands within the region. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) supported the development of ecoregional C values in the Northeast.

A plant’s C value is determined by its response to stressors. Species with high C values (7-10) are expected to be largely restricted to areas with minimal human impact or disturbances or adapted to unique natural conditions (including natural disturbances), whereas species with low C values (1-3) are expected to be largely found in ruderal or highly degraded habitats.

Exotics (non-native and invasive species) typically receive a C value of zero.

In the Northeast Region (including six New England states and New York), C values were completed at the state level in 2011, whereby every species in each state was assigned a C value based on statewide “average behavior.” This prior method of addressing changes in species behavior using state set C values did not allow for optimal regional resource management solutions. Consequently, both NEIWPCC and the EPA fully supported the development of ecoregional C values with NatureServe.

Additional resources include the full final report, along with C-value database, and a YouTube webinar presentation.

 

FQA Review Team – Albany 2017. Photo via NatureServe