Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow


A stated goal of the Nature Conservancy is to conserve all viable native species and community types in portfolios of sites within ecoregions. Accomplishing this goal requires capturing many types of diversity in conserved areas, as well as maintaining processes that will increase probabilities of persistence of that diversity in the future. It is increasingly argued that conservation efforts representing community- or landscape-level diversity elements are most likely to be successful at conserving biological diversity in general. However, the potential for conservation at community and landscape levels to simultaneously represent multiple levels or types of diversity is not well tested. Their success depends on both spatial structuring of different types of diversity and amount of area included in reserves (with diversity increasing as the area conserved increases). The objectives of this research are to use computer-based methods to 1) evaluate how well multiple levels of biological diversity are conserved by reserve selection strategies applied to vegetation communities over a range of conservation intensities (i.e., proportion of available area protected); 2) evaluate whether models designed to rank biodiversity value of sites based on landscape characteristics increase the amount of diversity conserved or improve the landscape context of reserves over networks selected using community types alone; and 3) evaluate the proportion of the landscape necessary to reliably conserve multiple levels of diversity when vegetation communities are the conservation targets.


Neel, M. C., K. McGarigal, and S. Cushman. Evaluation of Class-Level Landscape Structure Metrics Across Gradients of Area and Aggregation in Neutral Landscapes. In Review, Landscape Ecology.

Cushman, S., K. McGarigal, and M. C. Neel. Parsimony in Landscape Metrics: Importance, Universality, and Consistency. In review, Landscape Ecology. Other Publications

Neel, M. C., and M. P. Cummings. Genetic Consequences of Ecological Reserve Design Guidelines: An Empirical Investigation. In Press, Conservation Genetics.

Neel, M. C., and N. C. Ellstrand. Conservation of Genetic Diversity in the endangered plant Eriogonum ovalifolium var. vineum (Polygonaceae). In Press, Conservation Genetics.

Neel, M. C., and M. P. Cummings. 2003. Effectiveness of Conservation Targets in Capturing Genetic Diversity. Conservation Biology 17:219-229.