Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Len Broberg

Commitee Members

Vicki Watson, Anna Klene, Regan Nelson


land facets, geodiversity, Crown of the Continent, enduring features, climate adaptation


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Natural Resources and Conservation


The Crown of the Continent Initiative (CCI) is a transboundary collaborative of conservation groups who work to further conservation goals throughout the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, located in Northwestern Montana and southern British Columbia and Alberta. CCI and their member groups are interested in using geodiversity as a conservation measure in the Crown Ecosystem. First suggested in 1988 (Hunter et al.), geodiversity, or land facets, are typically a combination of abiotic features used as surrogates for the overlying biotic features. Conservation planning often employs an approach of coarse and fine filters, gap analysis, and systematic reserve design to identify where those features are lacking sufficient protection and, in order to fill those deficiencies (Hunter et. al 1988; Margules and Pressey 2000). Recently, there has been renewed interest in land facets for their utility in incorporating climate adaptation into reserve planning. The concept is that by protecting abiotic features that currently host biodiversity, those features will continue to do so into the future, even if the biota they host changes due to climate change (Anderson and Ferree 2010; Beier and Brost 2010). CCI is interested in the land facets currently protected, as well as the applicability of land facets as a conservation measure for planning of future protected areas in the Crown of the Continent.

This report reviews the literature associated with systematic conservation planning, the incorporation of climate adaptation into conservation plans, and the use of land facets as a coarse-filter conservation measure. Data sources to apply this research in the Crown are identified and reviewed, and the methodology used to complete a land facet gap analysis in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is described. Once gaps were identified, Marxan optimization software was used to identify reserve designs that efficiently meet the geodiversity conservation goals. That process is described and the results are summarized.

Both the gap analysis and Marxan reserve solutions showed a need for increased protection along the Eastern Slopes and in the southwest Crown. In both the United States and Canada, these areas include a mixture of federally and privately owned land. Given that both analysis methods show broad areas that are not adequately protected, it is suggested that these results may be best used to augment other conservation measures, rather than as a stand-alone measure for setting conservation priorities. This conclusion is supported by current practice of conservationists implementing land facets in their work (Lawler et al. 2015; Anderson et a. 2015).

Moyer_Robina_Appendices.pdf (2016 kB)



© Copyright 2016 Robina A. Moyer