A Proto-type Laser/Optical System for Measurement of Vegetation Height and Cover in Quadrats

Society for Range Management ConferenceSociety for Range Management Conference, Spokane, WA, 28 January to 03 February 2012

Joseph M. Kleinhenz, Sara C. Norman*, Patrick E. Clark, Mounir Louhaichi, Robert M. Johnson, Norman R. Harris, and Douglas E. Johnson

“Vegetation monitoring is essential if scientists and managers are to effectively evaluate and direct ecosystem dynamics. Two important variables measured are cover and height of both vegetation and litter because of their relationship to phytomass, growth, forage utilization, soil protection from raindrop impact, soil erosion, water infiltration, and moderation of the thermal micro-environment. Unfortunately, many commonly employed measurement techniques are expensive and time consuming or are subjective. In an attempt to automate and quantify the monitoring process, we constructed and evaluated a proto-type system based on laser and optical digital technologies. The height profile of two plants each of 6 species was measured using a Leica Disto® A6 distance meter in the laboratory by measuring distance from a fixed plane above the specimen. Two passes at right angles to one another were done with measurements taken at 1 cm intervals along each pass. Distance from the meter to the plant or ground was calculated and converted to plant height. The Leica Disto® A6 is generally accurate within 1.5 mm up to 200 m on solid objects but plant leaves often only partially intercept the beam. Plants were also sampled by photographing from two sides and directly downward with a Canon® XSi Digital Camera set at a fixed distance from the subject. Images were scaled using a ruler in the image and converted to spatially explicit format. After laser and photographic sampling plants were harvested and above-ground phytomass calculated. Laser and photographic methods of determining cover and phytomass were compared.”

Spatial-Epidemiological Modelling in Megacities: Statistical and Spatial Analysis for Urban Health under a Changing Climate

University of Bielefeld, School of Public Health03-07 September 2012

University of Bielefeld, School of Public Health, Department of Public Health Medicine

Global climate change and urban health are of global concern because the majority of the world’s population live in urban areas. Health problems are particularly prevalent in the rapidly urbanising megacities of developing countries, where a growing number of residents live in slums. Moreover, urban health in developing countries is increasingly affected by the diverse effects of global climate change, e.g. through droughts, inundations and an increased burden of infectious and non-infectious diseases and injuries. Research on the complex of health and the environment in urban areas of developing countries is urgently needed. Although transdisciplinary research in this scientific area is gaining importance, capacity building measures are still rare.

We offer a one-week seminar that focuses on statistical analysis and spatial-epidemiological modelling in the context of urban health in megacities of developing countries. Seminar topics are concentrating on health and the urban environment under a changing climate, including megacity development, burden of disease, and socio-ecological health determinants. The aim is to combine theoretical and lab work on statistical analysis and spatial-epidemiological modelling techniques in a transdisciplinary approach. We expect 30 participants with at least half of them being from developing countries.

Expected outcomes
Our participants will get a deeper understanding of the spatial and epidemiological dimensions of urban health under the view of climate change. Participants will be able to understand the multiple dimensions of health problems in megacities of developing countries and to apply statistical techniques which are commonly used in health sciences and in geography. They will further be able to work more effectively in collaboration with other disciplines for understanding and investigating multidisciplinary problems. These measures will enable them to develop sustainable strategies for the improvement of living conditions in megacities of developing countries.

Exploring Spatial Analysis Techniques for Quantifying Landscape Structure and Pygmy Rabbit Habitat Selection at Multiple Scales

Society for Range Management ConferenceSociety for Range Management Conference, Spokane, WA, 28 January to 03 February 2012

Virginia Harris

“High resolution remotely sensed images (~ 1 m pixels) are becoming increasingly accessible at little to no cost. These images present new opportunities to explore landcover mapping and wildlife habitat modeling at finer scales. These fine scale images may be particularly useful for mapping rangeland vegetation composed of smaller life forms (e.g. shrubs and grasses rather than trees) and habitat for wildlife species in these rangelands. The pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) is a species of special concern in the Great Basin shrub steppe and adjacent mountain ranges in the western US. Its primary habitat is in the sagebrush steppe dominated by plant communities that include big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and rabbit brush (Chrysothamnus spp.), however its selection for levels of shrub cover and spatial arrangement of shrubs is not well known. This study evaluated selection for landscape structure by pygmy rabbits at two study sites in the Lemhi Valley of east central Idaho across a series of extents and landscape metrics. Specifically the landscape composition and spatial patterns of shrub cover within 6, 60, and 120-m buffers around known pygmy rabbit locations were quantified on a map with 3-m pixel resolution and four shrub canopy cover classes (0-5%, 5-15%, 15-25%,and >25%). A sum rank nonparametric test wasused to evaluate habitat selection in proportion to different shrub cover classes, patch shape, evenness, and patch interspersion. Selection by pygmy rabbits differed between study sites and among buffer sizes. Results indicated that pygmy rabbits were selecting habitat based on landscape structure. Specifically, the rabbits showed selection for areas of 15-25% shrub cover within the smallest buffer size, and interspersion of cover levels across the landscape as indicated by the largest buffer size.  Furthermore, it was demonstrated that fine scale remote sensing and landscape pattern analysis are useful  tools in assessments of habitat selection by pygmy rabbits at multiple scales.”

Tobler Lecture 2012 Event: Are There Fundamental Concepts in GIScience?

Sunday 2/26/12 from 4:40 to 6:20 in Gramercy Suite A, Hilton NY, Second Floor

In over 40 years of GIS development and use, researchers continue to turn to fundamental concepts of GIScience. At a point in time where geographic information has become a key enabler for many information age developments, the GI Systems and Sciences Specialty Group is organizing its annual Tobler lecture on 2/26/12 as an event to engage these issues.

Two esteemed GIScientists, Nicholas Chrisman and Andrew Frank, will offer their thoughts about fundamental concepts in GIScience picking up on past exchanges. These researchers have engaged questions about core conceptual issues in GIScience throughout their careers and are known for viewpoints that bring the range of conceptual issues to the fore. Two observations frame these parts of the discussion. First, is that the field of GIScience is undergoing changes as GI becomes an essential part of ubiquitous computing environments. Second, it will be now 50 years since Waldo Tobler published his dissertation, an academic event that preceded an illustrious career. The Tobler Lecture Event 2012 comes at a highly suitable moment to consider the past, reflect on the present and think about the role of GIScientists in shaping the future. To round off the Tobler Lecture Event Dan Sui will offer a commentary on their presentations and Kate Beard will moderate the event. An online discussion forum (see below) extends the discussion.

The title of this year’s lecture, “Are there fundamental concepts to GIScience?”,  addresses the continued importance of engaging underlying conceptual issues in science. In this regard, and reflecting Waldo Tobler’s engagement with fundamental concepts that informed the development of GIS and GIScience. The contributions and comments should take up fundamental concepts with an eye towards engaging where geographic information science and technologies are going. Relevant to our contributions and discussion at the lecture is the milestone we are reaching that Waldo Tobler’s PhD was completed in 1961, 50 years ago. One point of engagement for the lecture is thus: Where are fundamental concepts now in relationship to developments of the last fifty years? The 2012 Tobler lecture comes at a good point in time to reflect on where GIScience is going and its relationship to the harnessing of geographic information technologies in ubiquitous computing. The event, online group discussion and publications engage spatial information communication, archival, and analysis issues that remain central to GIScience.

Interactive discussion forum: https://groups.google.com/group/gisciconcepts.

Everyone can read group postings; however you need to join the group to make postings. You can subscribe to the group through the web interface or via email. To subscribe to the group through the web interface, simply log in to your Google Account and visit the group of your choice. Then click the “Join this group” link on the right-hand side of the page under “About this group.” You can also email fharvey@umn.edu to request an invite if you want to post messages to the group. These online discussions will be taken up at the event. Follow-up discussions as well as a publication with written versions of the presentations and discussion contribution are planned.

The 2011 Tobler lecture event promises to offer rich food for thought on the past, present, and future of GIScience.

Further information on Google Groups is at: http://support.google.com/groups/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=46601

The Tobler Lecture 2012 Event is scheduled for Sunday 2/26/12 from 4:40 to 6:20 in Gramercy Suite A, Hilton NY, Second Floor.

Plan to come to the Transactions in GIS lecture held in the same room before the Tobler Lecture Event.

Literature Based Species Occurrence Data of Birds of Northeast India

ZooKeysZooKeys, 150 (2011), Special issue: 407-417, e-Infrastructures for Data Publishing in Biodiversity Science

Sujit Narwade, Mohit Kalra, Rajkumar Jagdish, Divya Varier, Sagar Satpute, Noor Khan, Gautam Talukdar, Vinod Mathur, Karthikeyan Vasudevan, Dinesh Singh Pundir, Vishwas Chavan, and Rajesh Sood

“The northeast region of India is one of the world’s most significant biodiversity hotspots. One of the richest bird areas in India, it is an important route for migratory birds and home to many endemic bird species. This paper describes a literature-based dataset of species occurrences of birds of northeast India. The occurrence records documented in the dataset are distributed across eleven provinces of India, viz.: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The geospatial scope of the dataset represents 24 to 29 degree North latitude and 78 to 94 degree East longitude, and it comprises over 2400 occurrence records. These records have been collated from scholarly literature published between1915 and 2008, especially from the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society (JBNHS). The temporal scale of the dataset represents bird observations recorded between 1909 and 2007. The dataset has been developed by employing MS Excel. The key elements in the database are scientific name, taxonomic classification, temporal and geospatial details including geo-coordinate precision, data collector, basis of record and primary source of the data record. The temporal and geospatial quality of more than 50% of the data records has been enhanced retrospectively. Where possible, data records are annotated with geospatial coordinate precision to the nearest minute. This dataset is being constantly updated with the addition of new data records, and quality enhancement of documented occurrences. The dataset can be used in species distribution and niche modeling studies. It is planned to expand the scope of the dataset to collate bird species occurrences across the Indian peninsula.”

Spatial Analysis Methodology for the Relocation of MFB Fire Stations

Surveying and Spatial Sciences Conference 2011 (SSSC2011) Proceedings of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Conference 2011 (SSSC2011), 21-25 November 2011, Wellington, New Zealand

Holly Voller and Trent Curtin

“In order to maintain fit-for-purpose fire stations in Melbourne, the MFB is often forced to relocate fire stations. However, the identification of suitable land in a built-up metropolitan area remains difficult. This increases the likelihood that the MFB will be required to compulsorily acquire land and defend the chosen location in a court of law. A recent fire station relocation demonstrated the need for a methodology that was conceptually and technically robust, transparent and reproducible in order to withstand an increased level of scrutiny.

“Using spatial information technologies, data from AIRS (Australasian Incident Reporting System) and, for the first time, data from the MITM (Melbourne Integrated Transport Model), the MFB has developed a new methodology to support the identification of an ideal geographical area for the relocation of fire stations.

Area of Optimal Performance and Deciles within the Bounding Area

Area of Optimal Performance and Deciles within the Bounding Area

“The methodology comprises two discrete phases, which together narrow the search for potential land candidates. These results provide decision makers with robust information that can be used to ensure that the relocation is optimal for meeting response time benchmarks and provides a sound evidential basis for which site selection and land acquisition can be based. This presentation will detail the newly developed methodology and its underpinning rationale using a recent relocation as a case study.”

Culture and Commerce of Chennai City – A Spatial Analysis of the Relationship between Temples and Retail Activity

Proceedings: Eighth International Space Syntax Symposium, Santiago de Chile, 2012


“Chennai, South India, is a city in which historicity and modernity are evident, both culturally and physically. It is a typical example of an Indian city which has many Hindu temples in its urban landscape. Each temple has a variety of commercial activity around it, often in the form of retail activity.

Spatial evaluation of the temple locations: space syntax study.

Spatial evaluation of the temple locations: space syntax study.

“This paper explores the spatial context of these varied functional patterns and whether they have any significance. The empirical case‐studies examine the contemporary spatial context of 36 temples and establish how these exemplify the relationship between the temples and retail activity. The study uses Space Syntax analysis, land‐use descriptions and figure‐ground studies, at city and district levels. In conclusion, it presents five spatial typologies, a set of principles that illustrate the spatial relationships between the temples and retail activity. It becomes evident that there is a significant relationship between the historical evolution of the temple locations and the retail land use which occurs and therefore the spatial typologies which are found.”

Geographic Information System and Tools of Spatial Analysis in a Pneumococcal Vaccine Trial

BMC Research Notes, Vol. 5, January 2012

Antti Tanskanen, Leilani T Nillos, Antti Lehtinen, Hanna Nohynek, Diozele Hazel M Sanvictores, Eric A F Simoes, Veronica L Tallo, Marilla G Lucero, and Arivac Consortium

“Background:  The goal of this Geographic Information System (GIS) study was to obtain accurate information on the locations of study subjects, road network and services for research purposes so that the clinical outcomes of interest (e.g., vaccine efficacy, burden of disease, nasopharyngeal colonization and its reduction) could be linked and analyzed at a distance from health centers, hospitals, doctors and other important services. The information on locations can be used to investigate more accurate crowdedness, herd immunity and/or transmission patterns.

Distribution of the landmarks and road network in the study area Background map:  www.openstreetmap.org

Distribution of the landmarks and road network in the study area Background map: http://www.openstreetmap.org

“Method:  A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of an 11-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (11PCV) was conducted in Bohol Province in central Philippines, from July 2000 to December 2004. We collected the information on the geographic location of the households (N = 13,208) of study subjects. We also collected a total of 1982 locations of health and other services in the six municipalities and a comprehensive GIS data over the road network in the area.

“Results:  We calculated the numbers of other study subjects (vaccine and placebo recipients, respectively) within the neighborhood of each study subject. We calculated distances to different services and identified the subjects sharing the same services (calculated by distance). This article shows how to collect a complete GIS data set for human to human transmitted vaccine study in developing country settings in an efficient and economical way.

“Conclusions: The collection of geographic locations in intervention trials should become a routine task.  The results of public health research may highly depend on spatial relationships among the study subjects and between the study subjects and the environment, both natural and infrastructural.”

UAV-based Sensor Web Monitoring System

International Journal of Navigation and ObservationInternational Journal of Navigation and Observation, In Press, 2012

Masahiko Nagai, Apichon Witayangkurn, Kiyoshi Honda, and Ryosuke Shibasaki

“UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle)-based monitoring system is developed as an intermediate system between aerial survey and ground survey. All the measurement tools are mounted on the UAV to acquire detailed information from low altitudes which is different from a satellite or a plane. The monitoring is carried out from the sky, but the spatial and temporal resolutions are freely selected near the ground. In this study, the data is easily acquired with safety and mobility by the utilization of a Sensor Web. A Sensor Web is a type of sensor network which is well suited for environmental monitoring. Sensor nodes are spatially distributed and wirelessly communicate with each other. In this study, the UAV-based system is considered as a mobile sensor node. This study proposes a combination of UAV-based monitoring with a ubiquitous sensor network.”

System Architecture

System Architecture

Climate Change and American Bullfrog Invasion: What Could We Expect in South America?

PLoS ONEPLoS ONE 6(10), Published 03 October 2011

Javier Nori, J. Nicolás Urbina-Cardona, Rafael D. Loyola, Julián N. Lescano, and Gerardo C. Leynaud

“Background: Biological invasion and climate change pose challenges to biodiversity conservation in the 21st century. Invasive species modify ecosystem structure and functioning and climatic changes are likely to produce invasive species’ range shifts pushing some populations into protected areas. The American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is one of the hundred worst invasive species in the world. Native from the southeast of USA, it has colonized more than 75% of South America where it has been reported as a highly effective predator, competitor and vector of amphibian diseases.

“Methodology/Principal Findings: We modeled the potential distribution of the bullfrog in its native range based on different climate models and green-house gases emission scenarios, and projected the results onto South America for the years of 2050 and 2080. We also overlaid projected models onto the South American network of protected areas. Our results indicate a slight decrease in potential suitable area for bullfrog invasion, although protected areas will become more climatically suitable. Therefore, invasion of these sites is forecasted.

Comparison between results of projections at present and 2080.

Comparison between results of projections at present and 2080.

“Conclusion/Significance: We provide new evidence supporting the vulnerability of the Atlantic Forest Biodiversity Hotspot to bullfrog invasion and call attention to optimal future climatic conditions of the Andean-Patagonian forest, eastern Paraguay, and northwestern Bolivia, where invasive populations have not been found yet. We recommend several management and policy strategies to control bullfrog invasion and argue that these would be possible if based on appropriate articulation among government agencies, NGOs, research institutions and civil society.”