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Creating an Installation-wide Library of Improved Distribution Maps to Guide Stewardship of Priority Species


Healy Hamilton, Chief Scientist, NatureServe:


Recent advances in ecological modeling, remote sensing, and cloud computing now enable us to generate consistent, defensible, high-resolution maps of the habitat distribution of sensitive species. These maps have the potential to replace coarse range maps as the primary source of habitat information for at-risk species, therefore helping to streamline decisions, avoid conflicts, and improve management outcomes. NatureServe and the DoD Natural Resources Program are conducting a project to create a library of high-resolution Species Habitat Models (SHMs) to guide stewardship of priority species across DoD installations. SHMs combine species occurrence data with high-resolution environmental information (down to 30m) to quantify the key environmental requirements that define highly suitable habitat for a species throughout its range. Suitable habitat can then be mapped across broad geographical regions based on local combinations of these key environmental variables. Central to NatureServe’s process is the use of transparent and collaborative modeling techniques and review procedures that directly involve top experts for each species. These collaborative SHMs produce highly robust and defensible maps of habitat suitability which can inform a range of management applications. The outcomes of this project will empower DoD to more efficiently guide field inventory efforts and make better informed decisions about Threatened, Endangered, and At-Risk Species on DoD installations.

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