Predicting Future Distribution of Suitable Habitat and Potential for Human-wildlife Conflict using Multi-scale Models of Species Distribution and Human Development

Paper prepared for the 95th ESA Annual Meeting, 01-06 August 2010, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Christopher L. Burdett, Dave Theobald, Kenneth R. Wilson, Walter M. Boyce, Erin E. Boydston, Robert N. Fisher, Lisa M. Lyren, Scott A. Morrison, T. Winston Vickers, and Kevin R. Crooks

“The impact of human land uses on ecological systems typically depends on how extensively natural conditions are modified. However, areas of intermediate-intensity human development are difficult to detect with remote-sensing data, and are therefore rarely included in models of species distribution. Similarly, most species-distribution models do not predict how future development might affect the amount and configuration of suitable habitat. We addressed both these deficiencies by integrating  species-distribution models with a spatially-explicit housing-density model to study how a large carnivore, the puma (Puma concolor), was affected by human land uses at multiple spatial scales in the western United States (U.S.). At a local scale, we studied the response of marked pumas in southern California to natural and anthropogenic features and evaluated if mortality risk varied due to the intensity of human development. At a ecoregional scale, we developed puma distribution models for the western U.S. using local spatial-regression models and harvest records collated across game-management units. At both scales, our housing-density model allowed us to examine changes in the amount and distribution of puma habitat historically (1970-2000) and in the future (2000 -2030). We also predicted areas of the western U.S. that may become future hotspots for puma-human conflict.

“We found pumas in southern California occupied much of the remaining natural landscape but rarely incorporated suburban or urban development into their home ranges. Pumas incorporated rural and exurban development into their home ranges, apparently perceiving these areas as modified habitat, rather than non-habitat. However, mortality risk increased with use of exurban areas, suggesting that exurban areas may be hotspots for puma-human conflict. At the biogeographic-scale, we found that a geographically-weighted regression (GWR) model depicted the distribution of pumas substantially better than a global, non-spatial model (AICcΔ = 161). This resulted from non-stationarity in puma response to some covariates across the western U.S., including the positive association with precipitation that occurred in arid regions but not mesic regions. Harvest records provided a reasonable index of the relative abundance of pumas across the western U.S., as indicated by the amount of residual variation in our model that was associated with human access (R2 = 0.16). Our results suggest that local spatial-regression methods like GWR are advantageous for broad-scale species-distribution models. We identified over 15,000 km2 in the western U.S. where puma-human conflict may increase in coming decades due to development. These hotspots included large urban corridors and less intensively developed regions.”

Evaluating Potential Renewable Energy Resources in Poultney, Vermont: A GIS-based Approach to Supporting Rural Community Energy Planning

Renewable Energy, Volume 35, Issue 9, September 2010, Pages 2114-2122

John Van Hoesen and Steven Letendre

“The current electricity infrastructure in the United States relies on a centralized distribution network that carries a heavy carbon footprint and is susceptible to disruption and failure. Rural communities are more susceptible to longer term interruption and should strive towards a local distributed energy model. This transition will require municipalities to engage with and seek input from community stakeholders. This paper describes a possible model for supporting rural community energy projects using a Geographic Information System (GIS), which was used to develop an inventory of energy resource potential in a rural Vermont town for biomass, wind, and solar technologies.”

Vague Spatio-Thematic Query Processing: A Qualitative Approach to Spatial Closeness

Transactions in GIS, Volume 14, Number 2, April 2010

Rolf Grütter, Thomas Scharrenbach, and Bettina Waldvogel

“In order to support the processing of qualitative spatial queries, spatial knowledge must be represented in a way that machines can make use of it. Ontologies typically represent thematic knowledge. Enhancing them with spatial knowledge is still a challenge. In this article, an implementation of the Region Connection Calculus (RCC) in the Web Ontology Language (OWL), augmented by DL-safe SWRL rules, is used to represent spatio-thematic knowledge. This involves partially ordered partitions, which are implemented by nominals and functional roles. Accordingly, a spatial division into administrative regions, rather than, for instance, a metric system, is used as a frame of reference for evaluating closeness. Hence, closeness is evaluated purely according to qualitative criteria. Colloquial descriptions typically involve qualitative concepts. The approach presented here is thus expected to align better with the way human beings deal with closeness than does a quantitative approach. To illustrate the approach, it is applied to the retrieval of documents from the database of the Datacenter Nature and Landscape (DNL).”

Assessing a Drop Box Programme: A Spatial Analysis of Discarded Needles

International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 21, Issue 3, Pages 208-214 (May 2010)

Luc de Montigny, Anne Vernez Moudon, Barbara Leigh, and Kim Young

“Background: Distributing sterile injection equipment to injection drug users is one of few proven ways of lowering the transmission rate of blood borne viruses. Distribution of equipment has also been linked to increased needle discarding, which is a public health risk for both injectors and their host communities. Drop boxes (anonymous and public-access sharps containers) are a promising and increasingly popular means of reducing unsafe disposal, yet there is little empirical research to support or guide their implementation.

“Methods: Using a dataset containing the locations of 7274 discarded needles and syringes collected monthly in the non-park open spaces of a 2.5km2 neighbourhood of Montréal, Canada for a period of five years, we compared levels of discards before and after the installation of 12 drop boxes. We used quasi-Poisson regression to test the effects of drop boxes on monthly counts of collected discards for areas within a walking distance of 25, 50, 100 and 200m of a drop box. We adjusted for known time-dependent covariates linearly and unknown time-dependent covariates using a smoothing function.

“Results: We found strong evidence of reduced discarding following the installation of drop boxes; drop boxes were associated with reductions of up to 98% (95% CI: 72–100%) and significant reductions for areas up to 200m from a drop box. Reductions were inversely proportional to walking distance from drop boxes. No measure of weather or use of needle exchange programmes (NEPs) had a consistent relationship with discard counts.

“Conclusion: Our research suggests that IDUs changed their needle-disposal behaviour in response to increased safe disposal options. In addition to being relatively low-threshold, economical and rapid, drop boxes appear to be a highly effective intervention to reduce discarded needles.”

Jack Dangermond to Give AGI Annual Education Lecture at University College London on June 7th

“Some developments in GIS”, Jack Dangermond, President & CEO, ESRI

Please join us for the Annual AGI Lecture, to be held at University College London on Monday 7th June, 2010. Once again this annual event is being held in partnership with UCL.

Jack Dangermond is one of the most significant figures in GIS. A landscape architect by training, Jack Dangermond founded Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) in 1969 with a vision that computer mapping and analysis could help us design a better future. Dangermond fostered the growth of ESRI from a small research group to an organization recognized as the world leader in GIS software development. He has many publications, honours and awards and is a highly regarded international speaker on the subject of GIS and its contribution to industry, environment and society.

Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1
University College London
Gower Street

Monday 7th June, 2010; 1300 for 1400 start.

This is a free event.