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.