GIS Internship: Habitat Modeling and Land Use Planning, World Wildlife Fund

Project Background:
The Greater Ruvuma wilderness of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique is one of the most biologically outstanding regions in Africa.  The landscape boasts a range of habitat types from coral reefs to miombo woodlands, and contains the largest remaining unfragmented habitat in eastern and southern Africa for the wild dog, lion, leopard, eland, roan, black rhino and savanna elephant.   The coastal forests and remnant mountain forest patches also contain large numbers of narrowly endemic species, many threatened with extinction.  The Ruvuma has remained wild in part due to inaccessibility, but this wildness is rapidly coming under fire.  The Mtwara Integrated Development Corridor Initiative threatens the integrity of protected areas and corridors in the region, and the wildlife species they seek to protect.  In addition, several industrial agriculture companies are investigating opportunities to develop here.

To help guide development in the region and mediate the impacts of new developments on wildlife and ecosystems before they occur, we are conducting a project to 1) produce a map of land uses that are compatible with a set of mapped biological and ecosystem targets, and 2) develop a decision support methodology and database, transferrable to institutions in Mozambique and Tanzania, so the potential impacts of proposed land uses can be evaluated before they occur.

The World Wildlife Fund is seeking an intern to help build the map of compatible human land uses, and populate the decision support database.  The internship would start in mid-April and extend until June 30, 2010.

Main Responsibilities:
Work with GIS specialist to:

  • Model species and ecosystem service distributions for key habitat species, using Maxent, InVEST, or habitat suitability modeling in ArcGIS
  • Prepare and format land use data (current and future) for entry into the database
  • Post project data to online database and manage data coming in from partners
  • Attribute spatial data and perform analysis using NatureServe VISTA

Other tasks include helping CSP staff to:

  • Prepare compatible human use map of Ruvuma
  • Evaluate future land use scenarios
  • Document methods used.

Qualifications: Proficient in GIS, including raster and vector analysis (preferably ArcGIS). Bachelor degree in environmental science, biology, GIS, computer science, or related discipline; Masters degree preferred.  Knowledge of East African ecosystems and conservation is desired.  Experience with species habitat modeling, Maxent, Model Builder in ArcGIS, and NatureServe VISTA are a plus.

Location: WWF US office in Washington, DC, USA

Time: Internship would extend from mid-April to June 30, 2010

Compensation: Internship is paid.

Grid-based Distribution Model for Simulating Runoff and Soil Erosion from a Large-scale River Basin

Hydrological Processes, Volume 24 Issue 5, Pages 641 – 653

Guoqiang Wang, H. A. P. Hapuarachchi,, Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, Hiroshi Ishidaira

“Grid-based modelling is an effective approach for handling the spatial heterogeneity of basin characteristics, such as land use, soil, rainfall and topographical information. In this study, the grid-based block-wise use of TOPMODEL together with the Muskingum-Cunge (BTOPMC) model (block-wise use of TOPMODEL together with the Muskingum-Cunge) was improved by using an erosion module to estimate soil erosion and sediment outflow during storm events. Instead of representing a grid using a single erosion type, the model accounts for the erosion caused by both raindrop detachment in the sheet area as well as concentrated flow detachment in the channel area. The sediment transport process is simulated at the assumed river channel networks, which avoids the problems that are caused by the difference between the channel widths in the upstream and downstream areas. This also enables the model to be applicable in simulating soil erosion and sediment outflow from a large river basin. Geographic information system (GIS) techniques have been utilized in the model to delineate the river network and extract the basin information from the digital elevation model (DEM) data. Through a case study in China’s Lushi basin, the improved BTOPMC model got an average Nash-Sutcliffe (NS) efficiency of about 86·1% in discharge simulations and an average NS efficiency of about 75% in sediment outflow simulations. Overall, the results show a satisfactory accuracy for all of the selected events. Moreover, by analysing the spatial distribution of soil erosion or deposition, the erosion-prone areas can be identified and prioritized. ”

Assistant Professor and Associate Director Position, GIS Research Laboratory, University of Southern California

The University of Southern California is recruiting a non-tenure-track Assistant Professor (research) and Associate Director in the GIS Research Laboratory, housed in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, for appointment on 17 May, 2010. Required qualifications include: (1) an advanced degree in computer science, geography or relevant discipline at the time of appointment; (2) technical and analytical expertise in GIS and related technologies, spatial database development and management, and advanced programming; (3) the ability to contribute to the Lab’s interdisciplinary research agenda, and assist with supervising graduate student research; and (4) the ability to teach GIScience concepts and technologies to a diverse student body in the Geographic Information Science and Technology Graduate Programs.

The successful candidate will provide technical and computational support for externally funded research initiatives and will play a leadership role in maintaining a vision for leveraging the GIS Research Lab’s computational resources for new research opportunities. The candidate is also expected to teach up to one graduate course per year on GIS Programming and Customization and/or Web GIS.

The GIS Research Laboratory was established in 1996 and seeks to develop cutting edge geographic analysis tools and to apply those tools in ways that increase our knowledge of the built and natural environments while training the next generation of geographic information scientists and promoting the utilization of geographic information science concepts and technologies throughout the academy. The University of Southern California is located within a few miles of downtown Los Angeles which serves as a global center for the arts, technology and international trade, and is one of the world’s leading private research universities. The Laboratory and the University are strongly committed to creating and maintaining a diverse community in which all students, staff and faculty can work, learn and live in an environment of respect and support. We welcome applications from candidates who will foster these goals. The University of Southern California strongly values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity in employment. Women and men, and members of all racial and ethnic groups, are encouraged to apply. Review of applications will begin 1 April, 2010 and continue until the position is filled. Applications must be made electronically to and must include: (1) a letter of application describing teaching and research interests along with the applicant’s ability to contribute to the Lab’s mission, (2) a full curriculum vitae, and (3) the names of three referees.

We encourage prospective candidates to review our web sites for the Spatial Science Programs ( <>  ), the Geographic Information Science and Technology Graduate Programs ( <>  ) and the GIS Research Laboratory ( <>  ) prior to applying. For additional information, contact Dr. John P. Wilson at 213-740-1908 or .

An Experimental Investigation of Post-earthquake Travel Behaviours: The Effects of Severity and Initial Location

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2009 – Vol. 6, No.1 pp. 14 – 32

D. Walton and S. Lamb

“A computer-aided personal interviewing survey containing 63 items examining post-earthquake travel behaviours was administered to 802 members of the general public. Earthquake simulation videos modelled a moderate and severe event (6.8 and 7.5, respectively, on the Richter scale) in an office and home setting. Travel movements were recorded over a simulated 48-h period following the earthquake. Geographic Information System (GIS) software was used to obtain trip origins and destinations the routes taken and trip distances. Information seeking was also examined. The results indicate that an event which induces significant travel produces trips that are for a variety of purposes, not just to return home. While individually rational, this behaviour is a form of collective social disorder. Mode choice varied with event severity and distance (walking was preferred up to 3.25 km, then vehicles were preferred). Well-prepared emergency plans reduce the need to travel. The motivation to travel was affected by available information and is discussed as a form of information seeking.”

Using a Role-playing Game to Inform the Development of Land-use Models for the Study of a Complex Socio-ecological System

Agricultural Systems, Volume 103, Issue 3, March 2010, Pages 117-126

C. Washington-Ottombre, B. Pijanowski, D. Campbell, J. Olson, J. Maitima, A. Musili, T. Kibaki, H. Kaburu, P. Hayombe, E. Owango, B. Irigia, S. Gichere, A. Mwangi

“We present an integrated methodology composed of a role-playing game on land adjudication from which we extract narrative and spatially explicit drivers of land-use decisions. We show how geographic information systems (GIS), qualitative decision-matrix analyses, a simple rule-based model using multi-criteria evaluations (MCE), and a machine learning-based land-transformation model (LTM) can be used harmoniously to study complex socio-ecological systems. We evaluate how each technique performs in the study of complex socio-ecological systems using a multi-tier framework detailing how each method analyzes the resource system, resource units, governance system, users and interactions and outcomes in the system. We show that each approach enhances our understanding of the land-use decision making process. Each method provides various information on the drivers of land-use decision, some focusing more on spatial components of socio-ecological systems (resource system and resource unit) and other having a strong emphasis on social mechanisms (governance system, users, interactions and outcomes). Furthermore, we shed light into the existence of a flow of information between the various methods enhancing our understanding of land-use drivers. We end with a discussion on methodological tradeoffs between models and the value of our more holistic approach to modeling land-use drivers and decisions.”

Spatial Diffusion of Biogas Technology in Switzerland: A GIS-based Multi-agent Simulation Approach

International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 2009 – Vol. 39, No.1/2 pp. 28 – 43

Reinhard Madlener and Christian Schmid

“In this paper, we study the viability and spatial diffusion of agricultural biogas technology in Switzerland by means of a multi-agent simulation model. The simulation process displays the estimated dissemination of biogas technology in the different regions of Switzerland over the period from 2006 to 2025, taking the varying circumstances for biogas use in each region explicitly into account. The simulation model developed is fed with Geographic Information System (GIS) data on the community level. These data comprise geographical, agricultural resources and economic information. The model accounts for three alternative plant sizes, for which realistic parameter value assumptions are made. Key findings to emerge from the sensitivity analyses and simulation-runs are that feed-in tariff, cosubstrate price and heat revenue are critical parameters for the diffusion dynamics, and that current subsidy policy favours smaller plant sizes, whereas larger plants are apparently economically feasible in only a few areas with high substrate densities.”

OCL for Formal Modelling of Topological Constraints involving Regions with Broad Boundaries

GeoInformatica, Volume 14, Number 3 / July, 2010

Lotfi Bejaoui, François Pinet, Michel Schneider and Yvan Bédard

“Integrity constraints can control topological relations of objects in spatial databases. These constraints can be modelled using formal languages such as the spatial extension of the Object Constraint Language (Spatial OCL). This language allows the expression of topological integrity constraints involving crisp spatial objects but it does not support constraints involving spatial objects with vague shapes (e.g. forest stand, pollution zone, valley or lake). In this paper, we propose an extension of Spatial OCL based on (1) a geometric model for objects with vague shapes, and (2) an adverbial approach for modelling topological constraints involving regions with broad boundaries. This new language provides an easiness in the formal modelling of these complex constraints. Our approach has been implemented in a code generator. A case study is also presented in the paper in the field of agriculture spreading activities. AOCL OVS takes account of the shape vagueness of spread parcel and improve spatial reasoning about them.”