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.

Russian Urban Planning: Modern Ideas (Legislative Base, Spatial Planning, Transport and Ecology, GIS Technology)

REAL CORP 2010 Proceedings/Tagungsband, Vienna, 18-20 May 2010

Anna Beregovskih, Irina Grishechkina, Dghamilia Shalakhina, Sergey Miller, Mikhail Petrovich

“In the early 21st century Russia once again became a site for dramatic transformatoions in urban planning. The 2004 Urban Planning Code completely changed the traditional urban planning system. The initiative in developing General City Plans was handed over from the State to the local administration. The main task of urban planning was shifted to providing for the interests of the new land owners, who made their appearance in the 1990ies- 2000s, in the process of real estate privatization and land market restoration. The review considers the positive and negative aspects of this new stage of attitudes in urban planning in Russia. The aspects considered as achievements include giving a start to the new urban planning school, large-scale mastering of geo-informational technologies as applied to urban planning and territorial development control, as well as envolvement of the population into urban planning activities. At the same time, we happened to lose the traditional values characteristic of urban planning, those of ordered public space. The priority task in the coming decade is believed to be restoration of mechanisms controlling public space development and urban social and transport infrastructure, as well as revival of the theory and methods in urban planning in the new social and economic context.”

GSDI 12 World Conference Update

The GSDI 12 World Conference 2010 will take place in the garden city of Singapore, at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre from 19 to 22 October 2010. This conference is organized by partners – the GSDI Association, the Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia & the Pacific (PCGIAP) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

There are three major components in this conference:

– 12th edition of the GSDI Conference;

– 16th annual meeting of the Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia & the Pacific (PCGIAP); and

– Trade Exhibition.

The theme for this conference is Realising Spatially Enabled Societies.

This conference will explore the complementary roles of government, private industry and the academic community in realizing better means for sharing geographic data and technologies and developing improved location-based services for meeting real world needs. Check out the program, free workshops and affiliated meetings at

Singapore, a dynamic city rich in contrast and colour, invites you to come and engage yourself in an intellectual exchange with leaders and experts in the geospatial industry.


Distinguished Keynote and Featured Speakers at GSDI 12 to-date include:

• Ivan B. DeLoatch, Staff Director, Federal Geographic Data Committee; Abbas Rajabifard, President, GSDI Association; • Ng Siau Yong, Director of Geospatial Division, Singapore Land Authority, Singapore SDI; • Santiago Borrero, Secretary General, Pan-American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH/IPGH); • Stig Enemark, President, International Federation of Surveyors (FIG); • Mark Reichardt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC); • Ian Williamson, Professor of Surveying and Land Information, Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration, Department of Geoinformatics, University of Melbourne; • Greg Scott, National Mapping & Information Group Leader, Geospatial & Earth Monitoring Division, Geoscience Australia


Tuesday, 19th October


The Welcome Reception at the GSDI12 World Conference will be a celebration of Singapore’s cultural diversity by bringing together gastronomical delights from different local ethnic groups. It will be an excellent opportunity for you to meet other conference attendees in the spectacular surroundings of the Singapore Flyer – the largest observation wheel in the world. Delegates will have a free ride on the capsules and enjoy breathtaking views of the city coming alive at night. This networking event is a great opportunity to bring your discussions to greater heights and is not to be missed!

When: Tuesday 19 October, 6.30pm – 9.30pm

Where: The Singapore Flyer, Megu Event Hall

Thursday, 21st October


There is no better way to spend an evening in Singapore! Wine, dine and network at this dinner, held on the second to last day of the GSDI 12 conference. Revel in the charm of exotic Singapore at the Asian Civilisations Museum, and look forward to experience Singapore’s history, culture, architecture and cuisine. The dinner will feature a sumptuous spread of Singapore’s most well-loved local delights. This event also presents an opportunity for delegates to meet and socialise amidst the city lights overlooking the Singapore River! Come join in this unique, must-have experience during your stay in the city! More details on the dinner will be provided at a later date.


Register online by 1 August, 2010 to enjoy early bird rates!

For more information on the conference, please visit us at or follow us on Twitter at

[Source: GSDI 12 World Conference email]

Sleeping Sickness in Southeastern Uganda: A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Disease Risk, 1970-2003

Vector Borne Zoonotic Diseases, 2010 May 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Berrang-Ford L, Berke O, Sweeney S, and Abdelrahman L.

“Sleeping sickness is a major threat to human health in sub-Saharan Africa. Southeastern Uganda has experienced a number of significant epidemics in the past 100 years, most recently from 1976 to 1989. Recent and continued spread of the disease has highlighted gaps in the ability of current research to explain and predict the distribution of infection. Vegetation cover and changes in vegetation may be important determinants of transmission and disease risk because of the habitat preferences of the tsetse fly vector. This study examines the determinants of sleeping sickness distribution and incidence in southeastern Uganda from 1970 to 2003, spanning the full epidemic region and cycle, and focusing in particular on vegetation cover and change. Sleeping sickness data were collected from records of the Ugandan Ministry of Health, individual sleeping sickness treatment centers, and interviews with public health officials. Vegetation data were acquired from satellite imagery for four dates spanning the epidemic period, 1973, 1986, 1995, and 2001. Zero-inflated regression models were used to model predictors of disease presence and magnitude. Correlations between disease incidence and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) at the subcounty level were evaluated. Results indicate that sleeping sickness infection is predominantly associated with proximity to water and spatial location, while disease incidence is highest in subcounties with moderate to high NDVI. The vegetation density (NDVI) at which sleeping sickness incidence peaked differed throughout the study period. The optimal vegetation density capable of supporting sleeping sickness transmission may be lower than indicated by data from endemic regions, indicating increased potential for disease spread under suitable conditions.”