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Landscape Capability for Representative Species

These datasets depict the potential capability of the landscape throughout the Northeastern United States to provide habitat for a particular terrestrial representative species based on environmental conditions existing in approximately 2010. Landscape capability integrates habitat capability, climate niche, and prevalence, and is a measure of the relative capability of the landscape to support a given species.

Go to the Product(s)

Terrestrial representative species Landscape Capability Data can be accessed either via the Conservation Planning Atlas or the North Atlantic LCC Spatial Data pages. Scroll down for a complete list of the representative species modeled for this project.

Representative Species
American Black Duck (breeding) Cerulean warbler Red-shouldered hawk
American Black Duck (nonbreeding) Common loon Ruffed grouse
American oystercatcher Diamondback terrapin Saltmarsh sparrow
American woodcock Eastern meadowlark Sanderling
Bicknell's thrush Louisiana waterthrush Snowshoe hare
Black bear Marsh wren Snowy egret
Blackburnian warbler Moose Virginia rail
Blackpoll warbler Northern waterthrush Wood duck
Box turtle Ovenbird Wood thrush
Brown-headed nuthatch Prairie warbler Wood turtle

Additional Resources

More information and detailed documentation for the Designing Sustainable Landscapes project, which includes many additional datasets besides the species datasets, is available at:

Detailed documentation on the development of all of the species datasets, including this Northeast Landscape Capability Dataset, are available at: The documentation includes a list of all the species for which models have been or are being developed and discusses limitations and constraints for using the datasets.

The 30 species modeled for this project are a subset of a separate effort initiated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region's Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC) team to identify representative species for the entire North Atlantic region. You can find detailed information about the selection process for this effort at:

Technical description

Landscape capability integrates factors influencing climate suitability, habitat capability, and other biogeographic factors affecting the species’ prevalence in the area. All locations are scored on a scale from 0 to 1, with a value of 0 indicating no capacity to support the species and 1 indicating optimal conditions for the species (not all species values reach 1).

Each species dataset is one of a larger set of results developed by the Designing Sustainable Landscapes project led by Professor Kevin McGarigal of UMass Amherst. The species datasets developed under the project include the following:

  1. Landscape capability datasets for a set of species intended to represent a broader set of wildlife species, and associated ecosystems, that collectively encompass a majority of the terrestrial, wetland, and coastal ecosystems of the Northeast. For each species, the datasets include projections of future landscape capability, taking into account several scenarios of possible future development, climate, and forest change, for the year 2080. 
  2. Datasets for each species that compare 2010 results to future scenarios for 2080. These include areas where the species could most likely be expected to persist, areas where it might be able colonize with future climate change, and areas where the species might experience a loss of suitable habitat. 

The 2010 Northeast Landscape Capability Dataset for this species represents the integration of three models:

  1. A habitat capability model developed using a spatially explicit, GIS-based wildlife habitat modeling framework called “HABIT@” developed by the Landscape Ecology Lab of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 
  2. A climate niche model based on an analysis of the climate conditions (circa 2010) that are most suitable for the species in eastern North America. 
  3. A prevalence model intended to capture biogeographic factors influencing the distribution of a species that are not reflected in the habitat capability or climate niche models. 

Project Contact(s):

, Director of the Landscape Ecology Lab, University of Massachusetts Amherst

LCC Staff Contact(s):

, North Atlantic LCC Science Coordinator

, North Atlantic LCC GIS Specialist

Landscape Capability for Representative Species
Product Type(s):
Foundation Information
Maps, Spatial Datasets, and Databases
Resource Type: Amphibians, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles
Conservation Targets: Terrestrial and non-tidal wetland
Conservation Framework: Biological Planning
Conservation Action: Site/area protection, Site/area management, Habitat and natural process restoration, Species management, Species recovery

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