(For detailed description of the project see: Scott, et al. 1993)

The Gap Analysis Program (GAP) brings together the problem-solving capabilities of federal, state, and private scientists to tackle the difficult issues of land cover mapping, vertebrate habitat characterization, assessment and biodiversity conservation at the state, regional and national levels. The program seeks to facilitate cooperative development and use of information.

The gap analysis process provides an overview of the distribution and conservation status of several components of biodiversity. It uses the distribution of actual vegetation and terrestrial vertebrates and, when available, invertebrate taxa. Digital map overlays in a GIS are used to identify individual species, species-rich areas and vegetation types that are not represented or underrepresented in existing management areas. It functions as a preliminary step to the more detailed studies needed to establish actual boundaries for potential biodiversity management areas. These data and results are then made available to institutions as well as individual land owners and managers so that they may become more effective stewards through more complete knowledge of the management status of these elements of biodiversity. GAP, by focusing on higher levels of biological organization, is likely to be both cheaper and more likely to succeed than conservation programs focused on single species or populations.