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California Gap Analysis: Glossary and Acronyms


Table of Contents
Glossary of Acronyms


alliance level - a land unit made up of an "alliance" of natural communities that have the same dominant or co-dominant plant species or, in the absence of vegetation, by the dominant land cover typically described according to the Anderson land cover classification (see "Natural Community Alliance" in Grossman et al. 1994)

alpha diversity - a single within-habitat measure of species diversity regardless of internal pattern, generally over an area of 0.1 to 1,000 hectares (see Whittaker 1960, 1977) -

Anderson Level II - the second hierarchical level in the Anderson land cover classification system (see Anderson et al. 1976)

anthropogenic - caused by man

assemblages - a group of ecologically interrelated plant and animal species

beta diversity - the change in species diversity among different natural communities of a landscape; an index of between-habitat diversity (see Whittaker 1960, 1977)

biodiversity - generally, the variety of life and its interrelated processes

biogeographic - relating to the geographical distribution of plants and animals

coarse filter - the general conservation activities that conserve the common elements of the landscape matrix, as opposed to the "fine filter" conservation activities that are aimed at special cases such as rare elements (see Jenkins 1985)

community - a group of interacting plants and animals

cover type - a non-technical higher-level floristic and structural description of vegetation cover

cross-walking - matching equivalent land cover categories between two or more classification systems

ecoregion - a large region, usually spanning several million hectares, characterized by having similar biota, climate, and physiography (topography, hydrology, etc.)

edge-matching - the process of connecting polygons at the boundary between two independently created maps, either between TM scenes or between state GAP data sets

element - a plant community or animal species mapped by GAP. May also be referred to as "element of biodiversity"

fine filter - see "coarse filter"

floristic - pertaining to the plant species that make up the vegetation of a given area

formation level - the level of land cover categorization between Group and Alliance describing the structural attributes of a land unit, for example, "Evergreen Coniferous Woodlands with Rounded Crowns" (see Jennings 1993)

gamma diversity - the species diversity of a landscape, generally covering 1,000 to 1,000,000 hectares, made up of more than one kind of natural community (see Whittaker 1977)

gap analysis - a comparison of the distribution of elements of biodiversity with that of areas managed for their long-term viability to identify elements with inadequate representation

geographic information systems - computer hardware and software for storing, retrieving, manipulating, and analyzing spatial data

ground truthing - verifying maps by checking the actual occurrence of plant and animal species in the field at representative sample locations

habitat - the physical structure, vegetational composition, and physiognomy of an area, the characteristics of which determine its suitability for particular animal or plant species

hectare - a metric unit of area of 10,000 square meters and equal to 2.47 acres

metadata - information about data, e.g., their source, lineage, content, structure, and availability

minimum mapping unit - the smallest area that is depicted on a map

polygon - an area enclosed by lines in a vector-based Geographic Information System data layer

preprocessing - those operations that prepare data for subsequent analysis, usually by attempts to correct or compensate for systematic, radiometric, and geometric errors

pro-active - acting in anticipation of an event as opposed to reacting after the fact

range - the geographic limit of the species

resolution - the ability of a remote sensing system to record and display fine detail in a distinguishable manner or: the smallest feature that can be distinguished or resolved on a map or image, such as a TM pixel

scale, map - the ratio of distance on a map to distance in the real word, expressed as a fraction; the smaller the denominator, the larger the scale, e.g. 1:24,000 is larger than 1:100,000

species richness - the number of species of a particular interest group found in a given area

Thematic Mapper - a sensor on LANDSAT 4 and 5 satellites that records information in seven spectral bands, has a spatial resolution of about 30 m x 30 m, and represents digital values in 256 levels of brightness per band

vector format - a data structure that uses polygons, arcs (lines), and points as fundamental units for analysis and manipulation in a Geographic Information System

wildlife habitat relationship model - a method of linking patterns of known habitat use by animal species with maps of existing vegetation, thereby identifying the spatial extent of important habitat features for use in conservation and management


ACEC Area of Critical Environmental Concern (BLM)
BLM Bureau of Land Management
BMA biodiversity management area
BMAS Biodiversity Management Area Selection model
CA-GAP California Gap Analysis Project
CDCA California Desert Conservation Act of 1994
CDF&FP California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
CDF&G California Department of Fish and Game
CD-ROM compact disk-read only memory
CERES California Environmental Resources Evaluation System
CNDDB California Natural Diversity Data Base (CDF&G)
CVRMP Central Valley Riparian Mapping Project
CW Central Western California region
DLCLU Digital Land Cover/Land Use maps (USGS)
DoD Department of Defense
ESRI Environmental Systems Research Institute
FGDC Federal Geographic Data Committee
ftp file transfer protocol
GAP Gap Analysis Program
GCV Great Central Valley regions
GIS geographic information system
IBM-ERP International Business Machines-Environmental Research Program
MCLP Maximal covering location problem
MMU Minimum mapping unit
NBS National Biological Service
NCCP Natural Communities Conservation Planning program
NHAP National High Altitude Photography program
NHD Natural Heritage Division (CDF&G)
NPS National Park Service
NRA National Recreation Area
NSA National Seashore Area
NWI National Wetlands Inventory (USFWS)
RMSE Root mean square error
RNA Research Natural Area
SCAG Southern California Association of Governments
SCS Soil Conservation Service (now called Natural Resources Conservation Service)
SNEP Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project
SW Southwestern California region
TM Thematic Mapper
TNC The Nature Conservancy
UCSB University of California, Santa Barbara
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
URL Universal Resource Locator
USDA US Department of Agriculture
USFS US Forest Service
USFWS US Fish & Wildlife Service
USGS US Geologic Survey
VTM Vegetation Type Mapping
WHR Wildlife-Habitat Relationships system

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