Southern California harbors some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the continent, yet is also home to millions of humans that compete for wildlife space and resources. In addition to land development, climate change threatens to change the Southern California landscape with a speed that is unprecedented in natural systems. In order to understand how land development and climate change will affect wildlife systems in Southern California, a baseline knowledge of which species depend upon the region’s resources, as well as the extent to which they utilize it, must be established. These baselines will only be effective standards if they can be communicated in a transparent manner not only to scientists, but to resource managers, conservation decision-makers, and the public alike.
Researchers at CTR are assisting in the development of a method that incorporates Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology as well as existing and newly developed datasets on the current location, abundance, and habitat requirements of species within the Southern California region, to produce a Los Angeles Biodiversity Atlas. We are developing this atlas in an interactive, accessible form (online and customizable to individual users), in order to make broad the appeal, utility, and audience for such a platform. In addition, we are developing a hard-copy volume of the atlas to establish a lexicon of biodiversity for the Southern California region and to serve as a point of comparison for future change.