Evaluating Indiana Bat Summer Habitat on Surface Coal Mine Sites in Southwestern Indiana Using Remote Sensing

Shunfu Hu, Michael J. Starr, Randall Pearson, Department of Geography, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

“Indiana bat is among first endangered species list by the federal government due to fragmentation or the loss of its summer habitat. Forest canopy, certain degree of “patchiness”, and summer roosting sites (i.e., snags) appear to be key elements in habitat quality for the Indiana bat. This paper presents a methodology of evaluating Indiana bat summer habitat on or near surface coal mine sites in southwestern Indiana. Three levels of evaluation on Indiana bat summer habitat were performed using remotely sensed data. Level 1 evaluation was based on Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) satellite imagery with 30-meter spatial resolution to obtain a general idea of land use and land cover in the study area, which helps to eliminate areas with low bat habitat potential (e.g., urban and agricultural areas). Level 2 evaluation was based on QuickBird satellite imagery with 2.44-meter spatial resolution, which enables us to identify the characteristics of forest canopy such as edges and patchiness and to again eliminate areas with low bat habitat potential (e.g., low patchiness or immature forest). Level 3 evaluation was based on high resolution digital aerial multispectral imagery with a spatial resolution of 0.323-meter (1 foot), which enables us to identify a much greater detail (e.g., individual trees). It is anticipated that the three levels of evaluation of Indiana Bat summer habitat will allow us to develop a “suitability index” that can be used to better assess and monitor Indiana summer habitat.”

Source: Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Applied Geography Conference, October 28-31, 2009.

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