South Atlantic LCC

Setting a course for a sustainable landscape


Sign-up to be part of one (or more) ecosystem teams 

Why are indicators needed?

South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint requires specific measures of what success will look like for natural and cultural resources. The ecosystems of the South Atlantic are complex and indicators help simplify the modeling and monitoring of those systems. We cannot measure everything all of the time. Indicators are designed to integrate many ecological functions and represent other components of the system that are either too expensive or time consuming to model and measure.

How were indicators selected?

Indicators are based on detailed input from 235 experts in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial resources in the South Atlantic region and 9 experts representing all 5 adjacent LCCs.

Read the entire process

How are indicators being used?

Indicators are being used to design and evaluated the success of the South Atlantic Conservation Blueprint.

What are the current indicators?

All ecosystem indicators were tested and revised in 2014. Click on the link on the ecosystem name for more details and GIS layers. 

Beach & dune

  • Beach birds: index of habitat suitability for 4 shorebird species (Wilson's plover, American oystercatcher, least tern, piping plover)
  • Unaltered beach: index of impacts from hardened structures like jetties, groins, and infrastructure


  • Coastal condition: index of water quality, sediment quality, and benthic condition
  • Wetland patch size: index based on the size of wetland patches
  • Water-vegetation edge: index of length of edge between open water and vegetation

Forested wetland

  • Forested wetland extent: overall acres of forested wetlands
  • Forested wetland birds: index of habitat suitability for 6 bird species (Northern parula, black-throated green warbler, red-headed woodpecker, Chuck-will's widow, prothonotary warbler, Swainson's warbler)
  • Forested wetland amphibians: Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs) within forested wetlands

Freshwater aquatic

  • Riparian buffers: percent natural habitat near rivers, streams and large waterbodies
  • Permeable surface: percent non-impervious cover by catchment


  • Structural connectivity: important hubs and corridors for ecological connectivity
  • Low road density: index of areas with few roads
  • Resilient biodiversity hotspots: index of mostly natural high-diversity areas potentially resilient to climate change
  • Low-urban historic landscapes: index of National Historic Register sites surrounded by limited urban development (cultural indicator)


  • Marine turtles and mammals: index of highly productive areas for sea turtles, dolphins, and whales
  • Primary productivity: index of ocean ecosystem productivity based on chlorophyll measurements
  • Potential hardbottom condition: index of potential condition of deepwater corals and other hardbottom habitats

Maritime forest

  • Maritime forest extent: overall acres of maritime forest

Pine woodland, savanna, & prairie

  • Pine & prairie birds: index of habitat suitability for 3 bird species (Northern bobwhite, red-cockaded woodpecker, Bachman's sparrow)
  • Regularly burned habitat: acres of fire-maintained, open canopy habitat
  • Pine & prairie amphibians: PARCAs within pine and prairie
  • Longleaf pine extent (cultural indicator): overall acres of longleaf pine

Freshwater marsh

  • Freshwater marsh birds: index of habitat suitability for 4 freshwater marsh bird species (least bittern, Northern pintail, Northern shoveler, king rail)
  • Freshwater marsh extent: overall acres of freshwater marsh

Upland hardwood

  • Upland hardwood birds: index of habitat suitability for 7 upland hardwood bird species (wood thrush, whip-poor-will, hooded warbler, American woodcock, Acadian flycatcher, Kentucky warbler, Swainson's warbler)
  • Urban open space (cultural indicator): index based on distance of urban areas from open space


  • Resident fish connectivity: index of local barriers to fish and other aquatic species
  • Fresh & saltwater connectivity: index of local barriers to fish and other aquatic species

Read more about the original South Atlantic Indicators (now revised)

How well do the indicators work?

The indicators were selected based on three different types of criteria: Ecological (How well it represents a variety of other organisms/ecological attributes and responds to landscape change), Practical (Can it be monitored and modeled based on current programs and resources), and Social (How well do they resonate with a variety of audiences). Further testing of all these criteria is now underway and will be complete by December 2014.

Ecological criteria
Read more about the project testing the terrestrial indicators
Read more about the project testing the freshwater indicators
Read the results of marine indicator testing (coming soon)

Practical criteria
The staff of your cooperative have been working to synthesize monitoring information and model the past, present, and future condition of indicators. This effort is the test of the practical criteria.

>Social criteria
Read the results of testing how well indicators resonate with the American public

Indicator testing is part of the Indicator Testing and Revision process approved by the Steering Committee in March 2013.

Read more about the indicator testing and revision process.


How can I help improve the indicators?

Starting May 2014, your cooperative will be focusing on revising the indicators for 1-2 ecosystems per month. Every month, you will be able to see the modeling of indicators (testing the practical criteria), results of testing the ecological selection criteria, and then be part of ecosystem specific teams that will recommend changes to the indicators.


Beaches and dunes

Maritime forest


Pine woodlands, savannas, and prairies

Forested wetlands
Freshwater aquatic

Upland hardwood forests


Tidal and non-tidal freshwater marshes

-> Sign-up to be part of one (or more) ecosystem teams 



  • March 2013 - Indicators approved
  • April 2013 - Testing and revision process begins
  • May 2014 - Revisions begin for 1-2 ecosystems per month
  • January 2015 - Revisions complete for all ecosystems
  • January 2015 - Modeling of all indicators complete
  • February 2015 - State of the South Atlantic report 

Indicator selection team

Beth Stys                  FL FWC

Reggie Thackston    GA DNR

Jan MacKinnon         GA DNR

Jimmy Evans             GA DNR

Jon Ambrose            GA DNR

Joe DeVivo               NPS

Tim Pinion               NPS

Ryan Heise               NC WRC

Scott Anderson        NC WRC

Roger Pugliese        SAMFC

David Whitaker        SC DNR

Mark Scott               SC DNR

Breck Carmichael    SC DNR

Billy Dukes               SC DNR

Maria Whitehead     TNC

Lisa Perras Gordon  US EPA

Wilson Laney           US FWS

John Stanton            US FWS

Duke Rankin            US FS

Brian Watson           VA DGIF

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