Although species expertise, professional judgment, and scientific literature pave the way for making determinations of effects, the vastness of the Deepwater Horizon Incident response inspired a systematic approach. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Endangered Species Act Biological Assessment (BA) for this response began with the development of ecological models for each of the listed species potentially affected by the response. These models are tabular and connect individual strands of logic, referred to as effects pathways, which relate a potential cleanup activity to the anticipated species response. Effects pathways cannot be used alone, as they are inherently isolated and independent of any response action data. To bring the effects pathways into the context of the actual cleanup effort, a forensic geographically aware action record was generated. This record was primarily built using prescriptions for cleanup, known as Shoreline Cleanup Recommendations (STRs), Incident Command System (ICS) Forms, and Best Management Practices (BMP) Checklists. The combination of effects pathways and the action record was completed using table joining techniques. The anticipated species responses to actions were then used to create a series of heat maps. These show the accumulation of species responses along the landscape based on temporal components of activities, such as frequency and intensity. These maps provide a visual means of consuming the vast occurrences of the response to facilitate the effects analysis of the BA.

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