Wildlife corridor design in the Valley and Ridge physiographic province of Virginia using FOSS GIS technology P R E S E N T E R: T H O M A S R U B I N O , M G I S C A N D I D AT E A D V I S O R: D R. J O S E P H B I S H O P CAPSTONE PROPOSAL, 3 AUGUST 2017 P E N N S Y LVA N I A S TAT E U N I V E R S I T Y D E PA RT M E N T O F G E O G RA P H Y Outline Goal and objectives Literature review Case studies Existing tools Background information Study area Species
Wildlife corridors Methods Implications Timeline Project goal Create a methodology for small-scale wildlife corridor design and provide a means for replication by creating an automated tool. Objectives Acquire high-resolution GIS data layers to represent the landscape, habitat, and threats that each species face. Focus habitat requirements for suitability and resistance modeling. Refine habitat ranges so that small-scale wildlife corridors can be designed. Share methodology via documentation and an automated script/tool. Literature review There is an overwhelming emphasis on
regional wildlife corridors focusing on large mammals. Florida Panther connectivity Banff National Park Wildlife Bridges Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative Alternative methods Circuit theory Parks et al., (2012) discuss an overreliance on expert models. Nowakowski et al., (2015) used microclimate testing, soil substrates monitoring, and predator introduction to influence results. Florida Wildlife Corridor Circuit theory model from Wired Magazine Existing tools and software
Corridor Design offers resources, methodology, and tools for corridor creation based on Esri infrastructure. MARXAN tools utilize QGIS. Circuitscape tools are used for corridor creation and circuit theory modeling. These tools can be used to compare and validate the results from this process. Corridor Design Toolbox Free and open source software (FOSS) Free refers to freedom and not the price. It can be freely modified and shared. This project will rely on FOSS software to process data layers and conduct GIS analysis.
An automated Python script will be developed based on this software. This gives users other options beside propriety software platforms. Valley and Ridge physiographic province Extends from Alabama to New York through the Appalachian Mountains. Located in western Virginia, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Consists of a series of rugged sandstone ridges and fertile valleys. The diverse plant and wildlife are continually threatened by economic development. Map created with data from the US Census Bureau and USGS Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Photograph by T. Rubino Wildlife in Virginias Valley and Ridge province The Valley and Ridge province
promotes a diverse population of plants and wildlife. There are 12 species of amphibian and reptile listed as Natural Heritage Resources by the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation. Amphibians and reptiles travel shorter distances, but many migrate to breeding sites. Eastern Tiger Salamanders and Wood Turtle. Photographs courtesy of John White of the Virginia Herpetological Society. Why are these two species being analyzed? Ambystoma tigrinum Glyptemys insculpta (Eastern Tiger Salamander)
(Wood Turtle) Largest terrestrial salamander in North America. Considered endangered by IUCN because of a 50% decline in population over the last century. Most widespread salamander species in North America, but is considered to be extremely rare and imperiled in Virginia. Lives on land, but travels up to 1.6 km to vernal pool breeding sites each Spring. Threatened by habitat loss due to agricultural conversion and urban expansion. Ranked as a very rare and imperiled species in Virginia. Lives in forested wetlands, meadows, and swamps,
but travels up to 3 km to stream breeding sites. Threatened by habitat loss due to urban expansion. Both species share similar behaviors, but with different habitat requirements. Wildlife corridors Wildlife corridors are linear habitats that connect two or more habitat patches. As agricultural conversion, urban development, and deforestation increase, many species habitat becomes fragmented. The connectivity of habitat enhances population viability and eliminates threats caused by these disturbances. The Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Photograph by T. Rubino. Data sources: Determining habitat
range The USGS National GAP maintains species range and distribution models for most species based on watershed boundaries. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) maintains species ranges at the county and watershed level. The VA DCR maintains a database of species locations; however, this data is restricted and requires a licensing agreement. Habitat ranges provided by the USGS and IUCN Data sources: Suitability modeling A USGS Digital Elevation Model with 10 meter resolution covers the entire state.
The Virginia Geographic Information Network produced an 11-class land cover dataset with one-meter resolution. The State of Virginia produces a E911 high resolution Street Centerline dataset. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wetlands Inventory provides additional habitat granularity. DEM provided by USGS and Street Centerlines and Land Cover provided by the State of Virginia Methods: Modeling suitable habitat Process will be different for each species based on habitat requirements. Land cover suitability score Requirements are based on academic and
professional research. Empirical data enhances the analysis when it is available. 100 Habitat analysis is scored on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the most suitable. 60 Each factor is weighted and combined to create a habitat suitability model. 30 0 80 Description
Best habitat, highest survival and reproductive success Lowest score associated with successful breeding Lowest score associated with consistent use and breeding Lowest value associated with occasional use for non-breeding activities No habitat The scoring range was developed by the Corridor Design project and describes habitat based on the ability to travel and breed. Methods: Suitability scoring Land cover Elevation Slope Aspect
Road type (based on speed) Road barriers (medians) Distance to roads Distance to streams Wetlands Where are the key habitat and breeding sites? Key habitat and breeding sites are the start and end points of each wildlife corridor. Key habitat is determined based on a minimum habitat patch size and suitability score. Breeding sites are added separately and can be derived from the land cover or as an additional data layer. Examples of breeding habitat include vernal pools for the Eastern Tiger Salamander and streams for the Wood Turtle.
Example of high suitability habitat, roads, and sinks representing vernal pools. Methods: Refining the habitat range The habitat ranges provided by USGS and IUCN are too coarse for a corridor analysis of a small species. An hexagonal overlay is used to refine the range based on species migration distances (~6,000 acres). The refined areas isolate key habitat patches, breeding sites, and threats based on their presence. Methods: Least-cost path analysis Least cost path is a distance tool that determines the least costly path between two locations. The destination and source are breeding sites and key habitat, respectively.
Each key habitat patch is modeled to the closest breeding site. Wildlife corridors are modeled using least cost path analysis over a resistance model, a raster comprised of inverted suitability scores. Florida Panther wildlife corridors created by Rubino T. Methods: Automating the process A series of Python scripts will be created to automate the process. Some aspects will require manual processing depending on data availability. Detailed documentation will be created because of the intricacies involved with importing Python modules and environment settings. The PyQGIS cookbook, QGIS
Implications This analysis and tool will help users make decisions on how to protect species at risk. The results of corridor analysis assist in the development of mitigation strategies including the creation of wildlife crossings/culverts. Conservation requires many stakeholders, including landowners who would be required to act as stewards in many of the cases represented in this analysis. New datasets must be introduced as they are made available including the USGS 1 meter 3DEP DEM. After corridors are created, the process must evolve as new threats are introduced. Berkshire Environmental Action Team (2011) Project timeline Action on peer review feedback and solicit review from professionals
Complete script documentation Complete scripting and tool creation Submit abstract Prepare and submit final report g Au t us e
y J ul Jun st 2018 Present at the Society for Conservation GIS Conference y Ma gu
ril Ap rch Ma ry ua br Fe ry ua Jan er mb ce De er mb ve No
r be to Oc er mb pte Se Au 2017 Complete entire process manually using FOSS tools References Beier, P., & Noss, R. F. (1998). Do Habitat Corridors Provide Connectivity? Conservation Biology, 12(6),
1241-1252. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.1998.98036.x Chowns, T. "Valley and Ridge Geologic Province." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 08 June 2017. Web. 22 June 2017. Nowakowski, A. J., Veiman-Echeverria, M., Kurz, D. J., & Donnelly, M. A. (2015). Evaluating connectivity for tropical amphibians using empirically derived resistance surfaces. Ecological Applications, 25(4), 928-942. doi:10.1890/14-0833.1 Parks, S. A., Mckelvey, K. S., & Schwartz, M. K. (2012). Effects of Weighting Schemes on the Identification of Wildlife Corridors Generated with Least-Cost Methods. Conservation Biology,27(1), 145-154. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01929.x Roble, S. M. (2016, February). Natural Heritage Resources of Virginia: Rare Animals. Retrieved May 27, 2017. Available online from: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/document/anlist2016.pdf Questions? Please contact me with additional comments or questions. [email protected][email protected] Thank you!
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