Section 7. Glossary


characteristic that is of scientific and/or management importance, but insufficiently specific and/or logistically challenging to measure directly; also, ecological characteristic that specifically describes the state of Focal Components


reference level derived from time periods or locations free from human pressures


indicator value suggestive of progress toward targets


Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment


Code of Federal Regulations


standards against which indicators were evaluated

Data considerations

indicator evaluation criteria related to the actual measurement of the indicator


Dissolved Oxygen


distinct ecological areas that contain unique qualities or traits; terrestrial, freshwater, marine, interface/ecotone


factor that result in pressures that cause changes in the system

Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR)

conceptual framework that has been broadly applied in terrestrial and aquatic environmental assessments


Ecosystem Based Management

Ecosystem assessment indicator

technically robust and rigorous metric used by scientists and managers to understand of ecosystem structure and function


Ecosystem Portfolio Model


Endangered Species Act

Focal component

the major ecological characteristics of an ecosystem that capture the relevant scientific information in a limited number of discrete, but not necessarily independent categories


Future Risk Assessment Project


Gross Domestic Product


Geographical Information System


measures of the effect of change in state variables such as loss of biodiversity, declines in productivity and yield, etc

Improving indicator

indicator that is increasing faster in the short-term but slower in the long-term than an index that captures aggregate changes in multiple indicators


Index of Biologic Integrity


quantitative biological, chemical, physical, social, or economic measurements that serve as proxies for difficult-to-measure attributes of natural and socio-economic systems


Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean

Lagging indicator

indicator that is increasing slower in the short- and long-term than an index that captures aggregate changes in multiple indicators

Leading indicator

indicator that is increasing faster in the short- and long-term than an index that captures aggregate changes in multiple indicators


reference level pegged to an extreme value beyond which undesired change occurs

Management strategy evaluation (MSE)

conceptual framework that enables the testing and comparison of different management strategies designed to achieve specified management goals


Marine protected areas


NOAA National Martine Fisheries Service


sudden change in a response variable resulting from smooth and gradual change in a causal factor

Normative reference level

reference level defined based on what is socially acceptable, i.e., according to norms


define what is generally accepted within a cultural context, and may serve as societal standards to evaluate ecosystem conditions, human activities, or management strategies

Open Standards

Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, developed by the Conservation Measures Partnership, Version 2.0 released in 2007. Available at The Open Standards are a series of five steps that comprise the project management cycle, with the aim of providing a framework and guidance for successful conservation action. They define conservation efforts as “projects,” and bring together common concepts, approaches, and terminology in conservation project design, management and monitoring. For more information, see [3].

Other considerations

indicator evaluation criteria that make an indicator useful, but without which an indicator remains scientifically informative


polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxics


polychlorinated biphenyls


polybrominated diphenyl ethers

Performance Management

A system to track implementation and communicate progress of a conservation project or program

Precautionary reference level

reference level pegged to an extreme value beyond which undesired change occurs, but set to be more conservative than the limit; a.k.a. warning reference level


factor that cause changes in state or condition. They can be mapped to specific drivers

Primary considerations

essential indicator evaluation criteria that should be fulfilled by an indicator in order for it to provide scientifically useful information about the status of the ecosystem in relation to PSP goals


Puget Sound Action Team


Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project


Puget Sound Partnership

PSP Goals

combine societal values and scientific understanding to define a desired ecosystem condition, and include: Human health, Human well-being, Species and Food Webs, Habitats, Water Quantity, Water Quality


Puget Sound Science Update

Ranking scheme

approach used to weight indicator evaluation criteria

Reference direction

which specifies how the trend in an indicator relates to the desired state of the ecosystem

Reference level

Point value or direction of change used to provide context so that changes in indicator values can be interpreted relative to desired ecosystem states

Reference point

Precise values of indicators used to provide context for the current status of an indicator


Actions (regulatory and otherwise) that are taken in response to predicted impacts

Results chains

Map specific management strategies to their expected outcome (e.g., reduction of a threat) and their impact on key components of the ecosystem. One component in the Open Standards framework being used by the PSP to guide its performance management strategy. Results chains are diagrams that show how a particular action taken will lead to some desired result, by linking short-, medium- and long-term results in “if...then” statements. Comprised of three basic elements: strategy, expected outcomes, and desired impacts. Developed for use as part of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Performance Management System in {Neuman, 2009 #20}.

Slipping indicator

Indicator that is increasing faster in the long-term but slower in the short-term than an index that captures aggregate changes in multiple indicators


Shoreline Management Act


southern resident killer whales


Condition of the ecosystem (including physical, chemical, and biotic factors)


Reference level that signals a desired state


Any activities that have altered the ecosystem in the past or present, or are likely to in the future


Urban Ecology Research Lab


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Vital sign indicator

Scientifically meaningful, but simple, metric that can generally inform the public and policy makers about the state of the ecosystem


Washington Administrative Code


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


Washington Department of Natural Resources


Washington Department of Ecology


Washington Department of Health


Water Quality Index