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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Maps, Models, and Tools for Bird Conservation Planning

Comparing Two GIS Decision Support Tools Available from USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) has developed two desktop Geographic Information System (GIS) decision support tools for general application to conservation planning. Both tools are very flexible and can be applied anywhere (they are not tied to a particular location). The first, Geographic Information System Tools for Conservation Planning (CCP GIS Tools), works in a vector environment within Environmental Systems Research Institute's (ESRI) ArcView 3.x program. The second, LINK :ArcGIS Tools for Conservation Planning, works in a raster environment within ESRI's ArcGIS program. From a conservation planning perspective, the two tools are complementary. Both tools calculate potential species occurrence, species richness, and habitat area for a selected landscape based on user-defined species/habitat relationships. LINK works for large areas (multiple counties, states, regions) while the CCP GIS Tools are most appropriate for planning focused on areas the size of a county or smaller (refuges or national parks).

To use the CCP GIS Tools , you will need ArcView 3.x; t o use the LINK tool, you will need ArcGIS. Both programs will run on the same computer. Major differences in the software programming languages used for the two ESRI GIS programs prevents us from upgrading the CCP GIS Tools to run in ArcGIS at this time. We plan to continue to add functions to LINK . However, the vector-based functions of the CCP GIS Tools have an advantage when working at local spatial scales.
products of the CCP GIS Edit Tool

For example, the CCP GIS Edit Tool allows you to change the land cover type of management units and re-run the analysis under alternative management scenarios. The CCP GIS Clipping Tool allows you to assess land use change by comparing a current land use map with one or more historical maps or projected future maps. Neither of these functions is currently available in LINK .

Conversely, LINK has functions not available in the CCP GIS Tools . For instance, LINK can summarize habitat information by management unit and assess the context of your management unit compared to the rest of the state or region. LINK can also summarize species richness, diversity, and the total area of each land cover type for, as an example, the state of Wisconsin by county (counties represent the management units). This analysis is not available in the CCP GIS Tools.

bird data summerized by county

Results of a LINK query showing potential species richness for priority breeding birds summarized by county for the state of Wisconsin.

We summarize the attributes of the two GIS conservation planning tools below (Table 1).

Table 1. Summary of the attributes of CCP GIS Tools and LINK , two GIS decision support tools designed for application to conservation planning.

Attribute CCP GIS Tools LINK
Vector data as source X  
Raster data as source   X
Application to small areas (area of a county or smaller) X  
Application to large areas (counties, states, regions)   X
Environmental Systems Research Institute, ArcView 3.x X  
Environmental Systems Research Institute, ArcGIS   X
CCP GIS Edit Tool X  
CCP GIS Clipping Tool X  
Potential species occurrence X X
Potential species richness X X
Habitat area X X
Summary of potential species occurrence, potential species richness, and habitat area by zone or management unit   X

The CCP GIS Tools are available for download at:

will be released available at:
A beta version on DVD can be requested from Tim Fox.

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