Quantifying the Extent of Human-modified Landscapes

Conservation agencies such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) aim to protect, enhance, and/or restore function to ecosystems to maintain viable populations of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, fisheries, and plants. However, the effectiveness of conservation actions to yield desired population outcomes within a particular ecosystem may be influenced by the degree and extent that landscapes are modified by human-dominated land-uses (i.e., urban development, energy development, roads) and contain high proportions of natural land cover types (i.e., grasslands, forests, wetlands). Intense human land-use modification (habitat loss or fragmentation) is considered a primary threat to threatened and endangered species and other sensitive wildlife species, as it has been shown to alter animal behavior, migration, survival, reduce production due to ecological, facilitate expansion of invasive plants, and alter plant community structure and composition. Consequently, conservation agencies require scientific tools to identify remaining critical habitats for