Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Environmental indicators, such as global temperatures and pollutant concentrations, attract scientists' attention and often make the headlines. Equally important to policymaking are indicators of the ecological processes and conditions that yield food, fiber, building materials and ecological "services" such as water purification and recreation. This report identifies ecological indicators that can support U.S. policymaking and also be adapted to decisions at the regional and local levels. The committee describes indicators of land cover and productivity, species diversity, and other key ecological processes -- explaining why each indicator is useful, what models support the indicator, what the measured values will mean, how the relevant data are gathered, how data collection might be improved, and what effects emerging technologies are likely to have on the measurements.