Resilient and Connected Networks (Detailed):

Resilience: Resilient sites have many connected microclimates creating local climatic diversity that increases the persistence and retention due to many connected microclimates that increase persistence and retention of biodiversity even as biota changes. To ensure representation of all U.S. species and habitats, site resilience was measured relative to other sites of the same geophysical setting (soil, geology, elevation) withing each of the 67 ecoregions.

Flow: Climatic flow refers to the gradual movement of populations in response to climatic change. It was measured using wall-to-wall flow analysis that simulated species populations dispersing along climatic gradients while avoiding anthropogenic barriers. We identified areas of high flow that was diffuse (flow zones) or concentrated (climate corridors) that will allow species to disperse, migrate, and adapt to a changing climate.

Recognized Biodiversity Value: Land recognized for its current biodiversity value such as the presence of a rare species population, exemplary natural community, or intact habitat. Data sources included The Nature Conservancy’s ecoregional portfolios, State Wildlife Plans’ conservation opportunity areas, and Natural Heritage Program’s high-quality occurrences of highly ranked biodiversity elements.

The Resilient and Connected Network (RCN) is a connected network of resilient, biodiverse lands covering 35% of the United States representing all ecoregions and geophysical settings. The network was created by finding areas of co-occurrence between resilient land, high flow, and recognized biodiversity.

Map Versions

The two versions described below can be viewed and analyzed by toggling the switch under Visualize in the right side of the table of contents in the Resilient Land Mapping Tool.

The National version of the RCN follows consistent methods across the United States as described in Anderson et al. 2023 A Resilient and Connected Network of Sites to Sustain Biodiversity under a Changing Climate published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The Customized version of the RCN represents a version of the national dataset that has been further reviewed and augmented by science and conservation staff in each of The Nature Conservancy’s seven North America Divisions. The augmentations reflect local site knowledge, field checking of connectivity linkages, and restoration work to restore resilience.

Most additional areas were added within the current categories of the RCN, with additions to resilience, flow, and biodiversity. Two new categories were added for restoration sites that were below the national resilience threshold but had recognized biodiversity value or diffuse flow.

Additions to the customized RCN include: