Abstract

As urban development continues to encroach into natural systems, these ecosystems experience increasing degradation to their form and function. Changing climatic conditions further compound the losses in biodiversity and ecosystem function. The state of Florida is known for its biodiversity but has experienced declines in species populations and habitats because of urbanization and sea level rise. Because Florida benefits from a multibillion-dollar income from natural resources tourism, these declines challenge the state's economy. In this study, we assessed the potential future impacts of urbanization and sea level rise on a suite of conservation targets that have been set for the state. We developed six scenarios of all combinations of intermediate and high sea level rise paired with two types of urbanization, sprawling and compact, in both 2040 and 2070 to examine the potential future threats to conservation targets in High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics ecosystems. Our results show projected decreases in extent and area of these priority ecosystems into the future. Under Florida's current trends in urbanization practices, projections indicate a greater impact on conservation targets than if sprawl reduction practices are implemented. Projections indicate that Coastal Uplands will experience the greatest loss in area, at up to 47%. Conservation-focused urban planning and climate adaptation strategies can help protect Florida's natural resources with benefits to Florida's tourism economy as well as critical ecosystem functions and services such as coastal flood protection and storm surge risk reduction.

Introduction

Natural resource managers face increasing challenges for conservation planning in changing ecosystems. Human impacts on ecosystems have increased with advances in technology and the resulting increases in human populations and encroachment into natural areas (Vitousek et al. 1997). Changes in climatic conditions present novel conditions for organisms and have led to biodiversity loss and changes in ecosystem function (Bellard et al. 2012; Cardinale et al. 2012; Hooper et al. 2012). Most notably, these changes have led to range shifts and phenological changes (Parmesan and Yohe 2003) as well as to changes in population dynamics, ecological community assemblages, and nonnative species invasions (Walther 2010). Uncertainty surrounding future change and varying projections of ecological responses to change pose even greater challenges for natural resource managers (e.g., Thuiller 2004).

The state of Florida is well known for its terrestrial and marine biodiversity (Millsap et al. 1990), yet many of its ecosystems are under threat (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2018). Florida's diverse species and habitats attract millions of tourists and bring in $9 billion per year from fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching (U.S. Census Bureau 2011). Florida's 13,576 km of coastline leaves many of its ecosystems vulnerable to sea level rise (SLR), in addition to threats from urban development, increasing temperature, and altered precipitation regimes (Noss 2011).

Setting conservation targets, the measurable expressions of desired resource conditions, is a commonly used means for natural resource managers to focus their conservation needs and goals (Groves et al. 2002; Parrish et al. 2003). Conservation practitioners have assessed and prioritized the conservation needs of Florida's species, habitats, and ecosystems (e.g., Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2000, 2018; Oetting et al. 2016). Decades ago, 44% of Florida's vertebrate species were reported to be in population decline (Millsap et al. 1990). Since that time, environmental conditions have worsened because of increasing urbanization (Terando et al. 2014) and SLR (Noss 2011). These declines in ecosystem health and function emphasize the need for Florida's natural resource managers to set conservation targets as a way to prioritize ecosystem needs and focus resources toward achieving conservation goals.

The Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC), a public–private partnership focused on applied conservation science to inform management decisions, renewed efforts to establish conservation targets across the state of Florida. The PFLCC had an advantage of developing targets in a data-rich state and was able to make use of existing conservation and management plans as well as research and monitoring data, such as the Florida Natural Areas Inventory's statewide Conservation Needs Assessment, the Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project (CLIP), Florida 2060 projected urban development, and Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan for conserving wildlife and natural areas. The PFLCC subsequently developed a formal process for establishing conservation targets and then worked with subject matter experts to define which ecosystems were in greatest need of protection and selected explicit targets for conservation into the future (Romañach et al. 2016).

The objective of our work was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and SLR to understand potential future impacts on the PFLCC's conservation targets. We modeled six scenarios of urbanization and SLR to understand the future susceptibility of a subset of PFLCC conservation targets. We used conservation targets for three of the PFLCC's major categories for protection, termed Priority Resources (Romañach et al. 2016)—High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics—the three Priority Resources for which the PFLCC had defined conservation targets at the time of writing. The six scenarios were all possible combinations of intermediate and high SLR paired with two types of urbanization projections, sprawling and compact, for both 2040 and 2070. Our outputs identify the spatial extent of potential threats to conservation targets on a statewide scale and provide the PFLCC with a foundation for the assessment and monitoring of natural resources, a framework for prioritizing conservation efforts, and information for communicating priorities.

Methods

We developed six scenarios of urbanization and SLR to understand the future susceptibility of 14 of the PFLCC conservation targets in three Priority Resources (Table 1). The PFLCC uses the Florida state boundary, broader than the PFLCC boundary, as the boundary for defining targets for coordination of conservation efforts with other landscape conservation cooperatives (Figure 1). For scenario modeling, we extracted projected urbanized and inundated areas to create spatial composites of potential future impacts on conservation targets. We calculated the amount of area impacted by projected urbanization and SLR and the percentage of total area affected of each target, for each scenario.

Table 1.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) conservation targets, completed in 2018. Data sources for modeled conservation targets in the High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resources.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) conservation targets, completed in 2018. Data sources for modeled conservation targets in the High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resources.
Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) conservation targets, completed in 2018. Data sources for modeled conservation targets in the High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resources.
Figure 1.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) conservation targets, completed in 2018. The PFLCC spans most of Florida. Portions of the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SALCC) and the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCPOLCC) also fall within the State of Florida. Hashed lines denote the state of Florida.

Figure 1.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative (PFLCC) conservation targets, completed in 2018. The PFLCC spans most of Florida. Portions of the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SALCC) and the Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCPOLCC) also fall within the State of Florida. Hashed lines denote the state of Florida.

Priority Resources

Priority Resource definitions were adapted by the PFLCC from Kawula (2018). High Pine and Scrub is defined as hills with mesic or xeric woodlands or shrublands; canopy, if present, is open and consists of pine or a mixture of pine and deciduous hardwoods (Data A1, Archived Material). Coastal Uplands is defined as mesic or xeric communities restricted to barrier islands and near shore with woody or herbaceous vegetation; other communities may also occur in coastal environments (Data A2, Archived Material). Freshwater Aquatics is defined as natural rivers and streams where stream flow, morphometry, and water chemistry are not substantially modified by human activities, or native biota are dominant (Data A3, Archived Material). It also includes natural inland lakes and ponds where the trophic state, morphometry, and water chemistry are not substantially modified by human activities, or native biota are dominant. All three Priority Resource layers were obtained from the Critical Land and Waters Identification Project 4.0 Aggregated Priorities model (Oetting et al. 2016).

Urbanization

Through consultation with the PFLCC, we selected three, 1000 Friends of Florida urbanization layers: 1) Florida 2060 projection for the year 2040 (Zwick and Carr 2006; Data A4, Archived Material), 2) Florida “Alternative” for 2070 (Data A5, Archived Material), and 3) “Trend” projections for 2070 (Carr and Zwick 2016; Data A6, Archived Material). The Florida 2060 (FL2060) project, conducted in 2006, developed urbanization projections for 2040 by using trending development patterns at that time. The Florida 2070 (FL2070) project, conducted in 2016, developed two future scenarios for 2070 based on population growth estimates from the Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Urbanization in the Alternative 2070 layer includes more compact development (higher density and a smaller spatial extent) and an increased acreage of protected lands compared with Trend (larger spatial impact per capita). Urbanization from the Trend 2070 layer includes development continuing along current patterns with the same population as Alternative but spread out, which means growth at lower densities compared with the Alternative. We used different methods to develop the projected urbanization layers in FL2060 and FL2070 as well as to create the respective baseline urbanization layers.

For the 2040 scenario modeling, we used the 2040 spatial layers from FL2060. For the 2070 scenario modeling, we used layers from FL2070. Because these projects used different methodologies in developing the urbanization layers, the projections suggest that some areas will be urbanized in 2040, but not in 2070. In addition, when we compared the respective baselines (FL2060's baseline is for 2005 and FL2070's baseline is for 2010), we found that the 2005 urban baseline contains more urban areas than the 2010 baseline by approximately 500,000 ha. This difference may be attributed to the FL2060 methodology that classified all vacant platted residential properties as urban, even if the land cover type for that parcel was not urban (Zwick and Carr 2006). Because the FL2070 2010 baseline urbanization scenario appeared to provide a more accurate classification of existing urbanization (based on comparison to satellite imagery), we used this baseline for all susceptibility modeling (Data A7, Archived Material).

The differences between baseline urbanization layers and inconsistencies between urban growth projections prompted us to modify the FL2060 urbanization projection for 2040 to make it comparable with the FL2070 projection for 2070. First, we removed overlapping 2005 baseline urban sites from the 2040 urban growth layer. Next, we added urban areas from the 2010 baseline to the 2040 urban layer. Last, some areas projected as urban in 2040 were not classified as urban in 2070, which is problematic for a comparison of growth from the baseline. We removed any urban areas from the 2040 projection that were not classified as urban in either of the 2070 projections (Alternative or Trend). Having removed these discrepancies between projections, we were able to use the same 2010 urbanization baseline across all scenarios, making our comparisons consistent.

Sea Level Rise

We selected SLR inundation layers developed by the University of Florida (UF) GeoPlan Center (University of Florida GeoPlan Center 2014; Data A8, Archived Material). These layers used U.S. Army Corps of Engineers SLR projections and Sea-Level Change Curve Calculator version 2015.46 (Huber and White 2015) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tidal gauge data and tidal surfaces to develop SLR inundation layers at a 5-m horizontal resolution for each of Florida's 36 coastal counties. The SLR layers were developed for each county by using local gauge data and sea level trends. The UF GeoPlan Center used a modified bathtub approach where isolated areas not hydrologically connected to the coast were removed from inundation.

The UF GeoPlan Center developed SLR inundation layers for five scenarios. Through coordination with the PFLCC to meet their needs, we selected the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' intermediate and high SLR projections. We selected SLR inundation layers for the years 2040 and 2070. Sea level rise is projected to differ regionally because of differences in factors such as changes in ocean current, surface winds, and expansion of warming water (Church et al. 2013); therefore, SLR values provided below are given as the ranges provided within Florida by the UF GeoPlan Center.

The resulting six scenarios are as follows:

  1. 2040 Urban Int SLR: intermediate SLR (0.15–0.21 m) with Florida 2060's modified urbanization projection for 2040,

  2. 2040 Urban High SLR: high SLR (0.36–0.40 m) with Florida 2060's modified urbanization projection for 2040,

  3. 2070 Alt Urban Int SLR: intermediate SLR (0.30–0.40 m) with Florida 2070's alternative urbanization projection for 2070,

  4. 2070 Alt Urban High SLR: high SLR (0.82–0.91 m) with Florida 2070's alternative urbanization projection for 2070,

  5. 2070 Trend Urban Int SLR: intermediate SLR (0.30–0.40 m) with Florida 2070's trend urbanization projection for 2070, and

  6. 2070 Trend Urban High SLR: high SLR (0.82–0.91 m) with Florida 2070's trend urbanization projection for 2070.

Workflow

We developed a workflow with points of evaluation to determine adequate representation and quality of input data. We clipped each input conservation target (Table 1) to its respective Priority Resource. Because the objective is to examine the susceptibility of the Priority Resources to future urbanization, we removed areas overlapping with the FL2070 2010 baseline urban layer from the input data to calculate accurate estimates of areas lost to future urbanization. For each prepared set of input data, we spatially extracted the urbanization and SLR projections according to the six model scenarios. The results are spatial composites for each of the six scenarios (Data A9, Archived Material). For each spatial composite and for the baselines with 2010 urban areas removed, we calculated the areas classified as either CLIP Aggregate Priority 1 or 2, the highest conservation priorities for the state (Oetting et al. 2016). We also calculated the percentage of area removed due to urbanization and SLR, relative to the baseline.

Results

Across all scenarios, we noted that the loss in area due to urbanization and SLR was more pronounced in the 2070 than in the 2040 scenarios for all Priority Resources: High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics (Tables 24). Overall, projections indicate SLR will have a greater impact than urbanization, largely through losses to Coastal Uplands (Figure 2). Outputs are available online as a U.S. Geological Survey data release (http://doi.org/10.5066/P99EQGZW).

Table 2.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) and Florida Ecological Greenways Network Priority 1 (P1 = Critical Linkages) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) and Florida Ecological Greenways Network Priority 1 (P1 = Critical Linkages) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.
Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) and Florida Ecological Greenways Network Priority 1 (P1 = Critical Linkages) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.
Table 3.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) and Florida Ecological Greenways Network Priority 1 (P1 = Critical Linkages) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) and Florida Ecological Greenways Network Priority 1 (P1 = Critical Linkages) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.
Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) and Florida Ecological Greenways Network Priority 1 (P1 = Critical Linkages) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.
Table 4.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The Baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The Baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.
Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. The area (km2) and percent (%) decrease in area of each model input (i.e., conservation target) for the Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource for each future model scenario of urbanization (Urban) and SLR. The Baseline area of target represents the current extent of the input model data with the 2010 urban baseline extracted. Each area and percent decrease in area is represented for Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 (CLIP P1 and CLIP P2, respectively). The CLIP Landscape Integrity Index values ≥ 8 (high ecological integrity) were used for calculations. We also present the area and percent change in area for the entire Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource for CLIP P1 and CLIP P2.
Figure 2.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. Difference in the percent of area lost (of Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 combined) between SLR scenarios (High and Intermediate [Int]), holding urbanization scenarios constant for High Pine & Scrub (HPS), Coastal Uplands (CU), and Freshwater Aquatics (FA) Priority Resources. Higher values indicate a greater difference in the percent area lost between High and Intermediate SLR.

Figure 2.

Study objective was to model susceptibility scenarios resulting from urbanization and sea level rise (SLR) to understand their potential future impacts on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative conservation targets, completed in 2018. Difference in the percent of area lost (of Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project Priority 1 and 2 combined) between SLR scenarios (High and Intermediate [Int]), holding urbanization scenarios constant for High Pine & Scrub (HPS), Coastal Uplands (CU), and Freshwater Aquatics (FA) Priority Resources. Higher values indicate a greater difference in the percent area lost between High and Intermediate SLR.

For the High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource (Table 2), we found a small effect of urbanization and SLR scenarios on protected area status and Ecological Greenways (ecologically connected public and private conservation lands). There was also a general trend of greater percentage of area lost due to urbanization and SLR for the species-based targets (gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus, red-cockaded woodpecker Picoides borealis, Sandhill bird index), especially for the gopher tortoise and the sandhill bird index (brown-headed nuthatch Sitta pusilla, northern bobwhite Colinus virginianus, Bachman's sparrow Peucaea aestivalis). Projections indicate that urbanization will cause greater losses than SLR for High Pine and Scrub. For the Coastal Uplands Priority Resource, the high SLR scenarios showed the greatest percent loss in area for the conservation targets (Table 3), especially in 2070. Many of the projected Coastal Uplands losses in area from SLR were high, with the greatest at 46.8% projected loss for Ecological Greenways. We determined the mean elevation of Coastal Uplands to be 1.46 m (SD = 1.44 m) by using the U.S Geological Survey (2019) digital elevation model, with the most frequent elevation observed (60.02%) at 0–1 m. The general pattern of a greater loss in area due to urbanization and SLR in 2070 than in 2040 was less pronounced for the Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource, but still resulted in loss (Table 4). We found a lower percentage of Freshwater Aquatics area lost from future SLR than High Pine and Scrub and Coastal Uplands Priority Resources, with the highest Freshwater Aquatics area lost at 5.3%.

We combined CLIP Priority 1 and 2 percent decrease in area (Tables 24) to compare projected losses from high vs. intermediate SLR, holding urbanization constant, for each Priority Resource. Coastal Uplands showed the greatest difference in percent area lost between high and intermediate SLR (Figure 2). The mean difference for all urbanization scenarios in percent area lost between high and intermediate SLR was greatest for Coastal Uplands (mean difference for all urbanization scenarios = 15.03) compared with High Pine and Scrub (mean = 0.13) and Freshwater Aquatics (mean = 0.07). Furthermore, the difference in percent area lost between high and intermediate SLR for Coastal Uplands is slightly greater under the Alternative development scenario (21.12) than under the Trend development scenario (20.83).

Discussion

Our results project increasing losses in extent and area of priority conservation ecosystems moving toward 2070. These findings are attributable to projections of increasing urbanization and SLR over the coming decades. Generally, we found that the greatest losses are projected to be from SLR than urbanization, although largely from impacts to Coastal Uplands. The increase in percent area lost from Coastal Uplands between high and intermediate SLR is projected to be slightly greater under Alternative urbanization than Trend. This difference is potentially because Alternative aims to reduce sprawl; therefore, more habitat remains compared with Trend, and this remaining habitat can be impacted by high SLR.

Florida has experienced many negative impacts from urban development, including destruction and loss of important habitats and ecosystem services such as flood risk reduction (Arnold and Gibbons 1996). Florida had a mandate to limit urban sprawl and minimize negative impacts on the natural environment (Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land Development Regulation Act of 1985; Frank 1985) but even so, policies were not always adopted at the local level (Brody and Highfield 2005). To protect the environment and restore environmental damage caused by urbanization, Florida enables several options for landowners and developers, such as establishing conservation easements where landowners are paid not to develop land in exchange for reduced taxation or creation of mitigation banks (where the land is used to offset continued development elsewhere). Brody and Highfield (2005) suggest that imposing legal or financial consequences for not adhering to urban planning requirements could lead to greater compliance. In the meantime, scientists, citizens, natural resource managers, and urban planners are increasingly required to innovate alternative solutions to help with the conservation of critical habitats and ecosystems of concern.

For High Pine and Scrub, the projection is for urbanization to cause greater losses than SLR. We found a trend of greater percentage of area projected to be lost for the gopher tortoise and the Sandhill bird index (brown-headed nuthatch, northern bobwhite, Bachman's sparrow), indicating that these species may be particularly vulnerable to future urbanization. Urbanization has resulted in a greater than 60% reduction in scrub habitat in Florida (Richardson 1989). These areas provide habitat for hundreds of species, many of which are endangered (U.S. Endangered Species Act; ESA 1973, as amended). Gopher tortoise populations, for example, have declined by 80% in the past century due to urbanization and other human development activities that have destroyed their habitat (Diemer 1986). Although managers have developed methods that can support gopher tortoise populations even with dramatically reduced important habitat, for example, by reinstituting summer and winter prescribed burns (Landers and Speake 1980; Russell et al. 1999), these restoration actions are difficult to implement as urbanization and infrastructure encroach on remaining important habitat. Pickens et al. (2017) showed that fire suppression due to urban encroachment was most likely to impact habitat restoration for Backman's sparrow. Low-density urban growth (the Trend scenario) has a disproportionate negative impact, per capita, on these species.

Projections suggest that losses for Freshwater Aquatics from urbanization and SLR will be minimal. One explanation is that freshwater has less potential for impact from SLR because of greater distances from the coast and less potential impact from urbanization owing to the challenges of developing on water bodies such as natural lakes, rivers, and streams. The persistence of freshwater wetland ecosystems depends on their ability to keep pace with SLR through soil accretion (Scavia et al. 2002). However, one aspect that our SLR scenarios do not consider is saltwater intrusion into the aquifer. If saltwater intrusion were to carry far into freshwater ecosystems, many of the species that inhabit those ecosystems may not be able to persist (e.g., Nielsen et al. 2003). Depending on hydrologic conditions, saltwater intrusion from SLR may range from a few meters to more than a kilometer (Werner and Simmons 2009). Much of Florida has a porous, limestone base, and most of the state is lower than 3.7 m in elevation, with most salt-intolerant communities occurring at less than a 2-m elevation (Saha et al. 2011). In addition, any location in Florida is a maximum of 100 km from the coast, with most locations much more proximal to the state's extensive coastline; therefore, saltwater intrusion requires serious consideration both for the natural world and for human needs.

With losses up to 46.8% for Coastal Uplands, this low-lying Priority Resource is the most vulnerable to SLR, which is significant because of its importance for Florida's tourism industry. These coastal ecosystems would benefit from sustainable management to continue to attract tourists that contribute to Florida's economy. The Florida Keys alone (Figure 1) represent a multibillion-dollar tourist industry including diving, fishing, and snorkeling (Donahue et al. 2008). An examination of potential tourism impacts to 19 of Florida's neighboring countries in the Caribbean (where tourism contributes 14% to gross domestic product) showed that 29–60% of coastal tourist resort destinations are likely to be partially or fully inundated with 1 m of SLR, and losses greater than 50% in five of these countries (Scott et al. 2012). In Florida, in one year alone, state, local, and federal sources spent $105 million for 19 beach renourishment projects because of their importance to the tourism industry, a cost that is likely to grow with SLR (Klein and Osleeb 2010).

Before 2012, many government agencies entrusted with the protection of natural resources either were not developing or not implementing climate adaptation plans (Archie et al. 2012). Mozumder et al. (2011) surveyed personnel from federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other relevant experts in the Florida Keys on climate change and its impacts and found that respondents felt they were making decisions without formal adaptation plans, with a lack of information, and without appropriate institutional frameworks in place to address increasing environmental damage from climate change. Since then, Florida has been proactive about climate adaptation planning, particularly with respect to coastal flooding and SLR. Florida has created “adaptation action areas” [Community Planning Act, Florida Statues Section 163.3164(1)] in cities and counties throughout the state that are threatened by high water events and are hydrologically connected to coastal waters with the goal of prioritizing funding for infrastructure and adaptation planning for coastal flooding. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2016) also released a guide for the conservation and management of Florida's species, habitats, and ecosystems given predicted impacts from climate change. Depending on how Florida moves forward with implementation of these adaptation strategies that include protecting natural habitats in its coastal regions, planned actions could have major implications not only for natural resources conservation but also for storm surge and flood protection into the future (Geselbracht et al. 2015; Romañach et al. 2018). Although Florida may be farther along than most, a study of adaptation plans from other developed countries highlights shortcomings with preparedness for climate change and minimal plans to implement management actions to reduce vulnerability and suggests integrating adaptation planning as an integral part of urban planning (Preston et al. 2011).

Understanding the future effects of urbanization and SLR on conservation targets is important to aid in conservation planning. Not only are urbanization and SLR affecting land use and conservation planning globally, they are also expected to increase in the future (Nicholls and Cazenave 2010; Wang et al. 2012). Information on the potential extent of future urbanization and SLR can benefit decision makers to help them effectively manage species and habitats of conservation concern.

Supplemental Material

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Reference S1. Donahue S, Acosta A, Akins L, Ault J, Bohnsack J, Boyer J, Callahan M, Causey B, Cox C, Delaney J, Delgado G, Edwards K, Garrett G, Keller B, Kellison GT, Leeworthy VR, MacLaughlin L, McClenachan L, Miller MW, Miller SL, Ritchie K, Rohmann S, Santavy D, Pattengill-Semmens C, Sniffen B, Werndli S, Williams DE. 2008. The state of coral reef ecosystems of the Florida Keys. Pages 161–415 in Waddell JE, Clarke AM, editors. The state of coral reef ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 73, NOAA/NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment's Biogeography Team, Silver Spring, Maryland.

Found at DOI: https://doi.org/10.3996/092019-JFWM-076.S1 (3.89 MB PDF); also available at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/839b/04d38c556f159392ba59eeb91ffdeea31c9b.pdf.

Archived Material

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Data A1. Spatial data layer of the High Pine and Scrub Priority Resource from the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, clipped to areas of Priority 1 and 2 from the Critical Land and Waters Identification Project 4.0 Aggregated Priorities model.

Archived by Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative: https://flcpa.databasin.org/datasets/cf49e64adaad4ccb946c040e0547bfc6

Data A2. Spatial data layer of the Coastal Uplands Priority Resource for the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, clipped to areas of Priority 1 and 2 from the Critical Land and Waters Identification Project 4.0 Aggregated Priorities model.

Archived by Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative: https://flcpa.databasin.org/datasets/fcd700e01ea2404ca75ed75dae940188

Data A3. Spatial data layer of the Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource from the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative, clipped to areas of Priority 1 and 2 from the Critical Land and Waters Identification Project 4.0 Aggregated Priorities model. The link contains multiple data layers – the raster titled “freshaq_new” is the Freshwater Aquatics Priority Resource.

Archived by Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative: https://flcpa.databasin.org/datasets/60e64816ffed43c8a2fbe43e9029d2a3

Data A4. The 1000 Friends of Florida urbanization spatial data layers for the Florida 2060 projections (both development projections and existing urban layers).

Archived by Archived by Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative: https://databasin.org/datasets/4a1340791089437dae38593f0ef39439

Data A5. The 1000 Friends of Florida “Alternative” urbanization layer for the Florida 2070 projections.

Archived by Florida Geographic Data Library: https://download.fgdl.org/pub/state/fl2070_dev_alt2070.zip

Data A6. The 1000 Friends of Florida “Trend” urbanization spatial data layer for the Florida 2070 projections.

Archived by Florida Geographic Data Library: https://download.fgdl.org/pub/state/fl2070_dev_trnd2070.zip

Data A7. The 1000 Friends of Florida 2010 baseline urbanization spatial data layer for the Florida 2070 projections.

Archived by Florida Geographic Data Library: https://download.fgdl.org/pub/state/fl2070_dev_base2010.zip

Data A8. The 2040 and 2070 SLR inundation spatial data layers for Florida's 36 coastal counties developed by the University of Florida GeoPlan center.

Archived by University of Florida: https://sls.geoplan.ufl.edu/download-data

Data A9. Spatial outputs from conservation target scenario modeling for three Priority Resources: High Pine and Scrub, Coastal Uplands, and Freshwater Aquatics, for six scenarios, which are all possible combinations of intermediate and high sea level rise paired with urbanization projections for 2040 and 2070, where 2070 includes sprawling and compact development scenarios.

Archived by United States Geological Survey: http://doi.org/10.5066/P99EQGZW

Acknowledgments

Funding for this work was provided by the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Many thanks to S. Traxler (who is now enjoying retirement) for engaging us in this important conservation planning exercise. We thank T. Hopkins, two anonymous reviewers, and the Associate Editor for providing helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Thanks to B. Stys and C. Keller for providing important information during our analyses.

Any use of trade, product, website, or firm names in this publication is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Author notes

Citation: Romañach SS, Benscoter AM, Haider SM. 2020. Potential impacts of future urbanization and sea level rise on Florida's natural resources. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 11(1):174–184; e1944-687X. https://doi.org/10.3996/092019-JFWM-076

Competing Interests

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Supplementary data