Ecological Integrity

Ecological Integrity refers to the ability of an ecosystem to support and maintain ecological processes and a diverse community of organisms. Ecological Integrity is measured as the degree to which a diverse community of native organisms is maintained, and is used as a proxy for ecological resilience, intended as the capacity of an ecosystem to adapt in the face of stressors, while maintaining the functions of interest.

For example, the presence of a diverse portfolio of species increases the probability that at least some of these species have the traits required to survive and maintain a suite of ecosystem functions in the face of climate change. Such is the case for an intact coral reef system that can better withstand the effects of ocean acidification than an impacted reef, while maintaining functions such as productivity.

Which Goals Does This Affect?

How Was It Measured?

The Ocean Health Index measured Ecological Integrity as the relative condition of assessed species in a given location. This was calculated as the weighted sum of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) assessments of species.  Weights used were based on the level of extinction risk following Butchart et al. 2007: EX (extinct) = 0.0, CR (critically endangered) = 0.2, EN (endangered) = 0.5, VU (vulnerable) = 0.7, NT (not threatened) = 0.9, and LC (least concern) = 0.99. For primarily coastal goals, the spatial average of these per-pixel scores was based on a 3nmi buffer; for goals derived from all ocean waters, the spatial average was computed for the entire EEZ.  


PHOTO(S): © Keith A. Ellenbogen
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