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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Maps, Models, and Tools for Bird Conservation Planning

Desktop Decision Support Tools

Over the last decade, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) has been developing decision support system ( DSS ) tools for conservation planning. Computerized DSS tools provide a means for organizing existing geographical, physical, and biological data for better management of natural resources. Recently, UMESC has focused on the development of desktop computer DSS tools to assist resource managers and planners.

These tools allow you to rapidly evaluate wildlife habitat based on presumed relations between species and habitats. You can summarize in tables, charts, and maps and include measures of potential species occurrence, potential species richness, and the area and proportion of different land cover types.

A primary function of the DSS tools is to help managers identify and prioritize species and habitats in need of management action. The tools allow managers to review a set of alternative management actions and quantify or visualize the effects of these actions on species of conservation concern. The tools are especially useful if stakeholders disagree about the benefits of alternative management scenarios.

Maps, tables, and charts help explain to the public the predicted consequences of alternative management actions. DSS tools designed by UMESC have been used in conservation planning for natural resources as diverse as the Upper Mississippi River System, the Columbia River, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, the Great Lakes, Acadia National Park, the Everglades Ecosystem, and several FWS refuges.

     
 
refuge biologist

Management agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service use decision support tools to set priories for management.

LINK: ArcGIS Tools for Conservation Planning
Zone map produced by the LINK Tool showing areas of high potential species richness for birds of high conservation concern in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3.

LINK: ARC Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Tools for Conservation Planning is a software package providing resource managers with a set of GIS tools for analyzing habitats and the species occupying those habitats. LINK operates in the Environmental Systems Research Institute's (ESRI) Geographic Information System Tools for Conservation Planning: CCP GIS Tools). Like the CCP GIS Tools , LINK summarizes information in tables, charts, and maps, including potential species occurrence, potential species richness, and the area and proportion of different land cover types.

DSS inputs and outputs
Our decision support tools use a table that scores species based on presumed associations with land cover types to create tables, charts, and maps describing the attributes of the areas.

A unique feature of LINK is its application to large areas ranging in size from counties to states or regions. LINK also allows you to compare the conservation potential of your management unit with the surrounding county, state, or ecoregion. For example, LINK can summarize potential species richness, species diversity, and the total acreage of each land cover type for the state of Wisconsin, by county (county is the management unit in this example) . We consider the CCP GIS Tools and LINK to be complementary conservation planning tools that share some, but not all functions. How you choose to apply the tools depends upon your management questions and the sizes of your management units.



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Page Last Modified: January 29, 2016