Esri Chief Scientist Receives Honors

Esri logoDawn Wright, Association of American Geographers Presidential Achievement Award

Esri chief scientist Dawn J. Wright, PhD, has received the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Presidential Achievement Award. Presented at the AAG annual meeting on February 28, 2012, the award recognizes Wright’s outstanding work as a scientist, researcher, author, and advocate for marine conservation and for her contributions to geographic science.

“Dawn Wright is a researcher of exceptional achievement whose work highlights the remarkable breadth and diversity of contemporary geography,” said AAG president Audrey L. Kobayashi. “Wright’s work to build geospatial technology standards for ocean mapping has enabled the scientific community to share information and collaborate on research projects. She has championed geographic information systems for marine research that are laying the groundwork for more sustainable ocean resources policies. The AAG Presidential Achievement Award affirms the benefit her efforts have brought to geographic science.”

As chief scientist, Wright leads Esri’s natural sciences efforts and drives the company’s ocean and science initiatives. She is also a professor of geography and oceanography at Oregon State University, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of Stanford University’s Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in science communication. Her research interests include geographic information science; marine geography; benthic terrain and habitat characterization; and the processing and interpretation of high-resolution bathymetry, video, and underwater photographic images. Wright received her doctorate in physical geography and marine geology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Dr. Wright’s strong background in geographic information science and expertise in GIS [geographic information systems] have enabled her to bring greater perspective to scientists throughout the world who map and analyze terrains, ecosystems, and habitats,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri president.

AAG is a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904. For more than 100 years, AAG has contributed to the advancement of geography. Its members, from more than 60 countries, share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG’s annual meeting. The AAG Presidential Achievement Award was established by the AAG Council to recognize individuals who have made long-standing and distinguished contributions to the discipline of geography.

[Source: Esri press release]

Drivers and Hotspots of Extinction Risk in Marine Mammals

PNASPNAS, Published online 30 January 2012

Ana D. Davidson, Alison G. Boyer, Hwahwan Kim, Sandra Pompa-Mansilla, Marcus J. Hamilton, Daniel P. Costa, Gerardo Ceballos, and James H. Brown

“The world’s oceans are undergoing profound changes as a result of human activities. However, the consequences of escalating human impacts on marine mammal biodiversity remain poorly understood. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) identifies 25% of marine mammals as at risk of extinction, but the conservation status of nearly 40% of marine mammals remains unknown due to insufficient data. Predictive models of extinction risk are crucial to informing present and future conservation needs, yet such models have not been developed for marine mammals. In this paper, we: (i) used powerful machine-learning and spatial-modeling approaches to understand the intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of marine mammal extinction risk; (ii) used this information to predict risk across all marine mammals, including IUCN “Data Deficient” species; and (iii) conducted a spatially explicit assessment of these results to understand how risk is distributed across the world’s oceans. Rate of offspring production was the most important predictor of risk. Additional predictors included taxonomic group, small geographic range area, and small social group size. Although the interaction of both intrinsic and extrinsic variables was important in predicting risk, overall, intrinsic traits were more important than extrinsic variables. In addition to the 32 species already on the IUCN Red List, our model identified 15 more species, suggesting that 37% of all marine mammals are at risk of extinction. Most at-risk species occur in coastal areas and in productive regions of the high seas. We identify 13 global hotspots of risk and show how they overlap with human impacts and Marine Protected Areas.”

DLA 2012 Conference: Geodesign, 3D Modeling, and Visualization

DLA 2012 Conference: Geodesign, 3D Modeling, and Visualization“The focus of the DLA Conference 2012 is GeoDesign, 3D-Modeling and Visualization. It will be held in Bernburg at the Kurhaus Conference Center which was built in 1902. Since 1990, the Kurhaus has also housed the Bernburg Research Center INDIGO Innovations Park. The DLA 2012 will include presentations, exhibitions of vendors, poster sessions and workshops. Excursions and social events will take place at the Bernburg Cloister, the nearby Castle Hohenerxleben, the Bauhaus Dessau and the Woerlitz Gardens.”

Thursday, 31 May 2012: 3D-Landscape Modeling
9:00 Welcome and Keynote: Prof. Dr. Jörg Schaller, Technical University Munich, Germany: Applying 3D Landscape Modeling in GeoDesign
11:00 Parallel lectures sessions on: 3D-Landscape Modeling
14:00 Parallel lectures sessions on: 3D-City Modeling
Poster Presentation
Parallel 1,5 hour Workshop: Open Street Map by Philip Paar, Laubwerk a.o.
20:00 Reception Buffet at Bernburg Cloister

Friday, 1 June 2012: Landscape Visualization
9:00 Keynote Prof. Dr. Christina von Haaren, Leibnitz University of Hannover, Germany: The potential of GeoDesign for linking Landscape Planning, Landscape Visualization and Landscape Management
11:00 Parallel lectures Sessions on: Virtual Environmental Design | Applying Mobile Devices in Planning and Design
14:00 Parallel lectures sessions on: Planting Design and Modeling
Parallel 1,5 hour Workshop: New Devices for GIS by Prof. Joachim Kieferle, Univ. Rhein-Main, Germany, Prof. Dr. Uli Kühnle. Burg Giebichenstein, Halle, Germany, a.o.
Parallel 1/2 –Day Workshop: BIM, CityGML and Related Standardization by Prof. Dr. Thomas Kolbe, TU Berlin, Lutz Ross, virtualcitySYSTEMS, Berlin, a.o.
20:00 Conference Dinner DLA Awards, at Castle Hohenerxleben

Saturday, 2 June 2012: GeoDesign
9:00 Short presentation 3-minute impulses
9:30 Keynote Prof. Dr. Carl Steinitz, Harvard University, United States: Public Participation in Landscape Planning: a Prognosis for the Future? Dr. Stephen Ervin, Harvard University, United States: The Future of GeoDesign
11:00 Parallel lectures Sessions on: GeoDesign Applications
14:00 Parallel lectures sessions on: GeoDesign Interfaces | Teaching GeoDesign and Digital Planning Methods Parallel 1/2 –Day Workshop: GeoDesign by Dr. Stephen Ervin, Harvard University, United States, Matthias Pietsch, Anhalt University, Bernburg, Eric Wittner, ESRI GeoDesign Group, Redlands, USA, Pascal Müller, ESRI Procedural Group, Zürich, Switzerland, a.o.
17:00 Closing Panel
20:00 Evening Lecture and concert at Bauhaus Aula, Dessau

Sunday, 3 June 2012: Excursion
1/2 –Day Excursion Wörlitz Garden and Bauhaus Dessau | Full Day Excursion Harz Mountains (Historical Gardens)

More information

Winners of ArcGIS Online Grant Program for Educators Announced

Esri logoGrantees Will Develop Projects to Support Teaching and Research

Esri has awarded five grants to select university and college faculty members to create exemplary higher education course materials and implementations of ArcGIS Online. Grantees receive $10,000 (US) each, as well as assistance from curriculum development specialists on Esri’s education solutions team.

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based geospatial platform that enables individuals to create and share maps, apps, and map services. Later this year, Esri will introduce new features to ArcGIS Online, providing enhanced mapping and data sharing capabilities to support collaboration within an organization. Esri will include ArcGIS Online subscriptions in its educational site licenses at no extra cost.

“Our goal is to help early adopters demonstrate the potential of the ArcGIS Online platform to support spatial thinking and learning across the curriculum,” says David DiBiase, director of Esri’s education solutions team. “We believe this new platform will enable hundreds of thousands more students worldwide to experience the power of GIS.”

The grant winners and their projects are as follows:

  • Mark Lindberg, Len Kne, and their colleagues at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN) will evaluate how the software can be used to support teaching, research, and enterprise services across a large land grant university.
  • Dr. Fred L. Miller and colleagues at Murray State University (Murray, KY) will develop and deploy business GIS exercises for marketing majors.
  • Dr. Christopher Bone at the University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) will use the software as a platform for a new introductory course, entitled Our Digital Earth, to expose students to the geospatial data and technologies found in their daily lives.
  • Ken Yanow at Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA) will create a series of assignments for a suite of general education courses that will enroll a diverse population of 2,000 students per year.
  • Dr. Eui-kyung Shin at Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL) will develop geographic curriculum materials that enhance spatial thinking and active learning for elementary preservice teachers.

Grantees will present their preliminary results during the 2012 Esri Education GIS Conference in San Diego, California, and implement them on campus during the 2012–13 academic year.

[Source: Esri press release]

A GIS Model Predicting Potential Distributions of a Lineage: A Test Case on Hermit Spiders (Nephilidae: Nephilengys)

PLoS ONE: Research Article, published 06 Jan 2012

Magdalena Năpăruş and Matjaž Kuntner

“Background: Although numerous studies model species distributions, these models are almost exclusively on single species, while studies of evolutionary lineages are preferred as they by definition study closely related species with shared history and ecology. Hermit spiders, genus Nephilengys, represent an ecologically important but relatively species-poor lineage with a globally allopatric distribution. Here, we model Nephilengys global habitat suitability based on known localities and four ecological parameters.

Predicted habitat suitability for Nephilengys cruentata within its directional distribution area

Predicted habitat suitability for Nephilengys cruentata within its directional distribution area

“Methodology/Principal Findings: We geo-referenced 751 localities for the four most studied Nephilengys species: N. cruentata (Africa, New World), N. livida (Madagascar), N. malabarensis (S-SE Asia), and N. papuana (Australasia). For each locality we overlaid four ecological parameters: elevation, annual mean temperature, annual mean precipitation, and land cover. We used linear backward regression within ArcGIS to select two best fit parameters per species model, and ModelBuilder to map areas of high, moderate and low habitat suitability for each species within its directional distribution. For Nephilengys cruentata suitable habitats are mid elevation tropics within Africa (natural range), a large part of Brazil and the Guianas (area of synanthropic spread), and even North Africa, Mediterranean, and Arabia. Nephilengys livida is confined to its known range with suitable habitats being mid-elevation natural and cultivated lands. Nephilengys malabarensis, however, ranges across the Equator throughout Asia where the model predicts many areas of high ecological suitability in the wet tropics. Its directional distribution suggests the species may potentially spread eastwards to New Guinea where the suitable areas of N. malabarensis largely surpass those of the native N. papuana, a species that prefers dry forests of Australian (sub)tropics.

“Conclusions: Our model is a customizable GIS tool intended to predict current and future potential distributions of globally distributed terrestrial lineages. Its predictive potential may be tested in foreseeing species distribution shifts due to habitat destruction and global climate change.”

URISA Data Policy & Amicus Brief Decision Statement

URISAAt its February 24, 2012 meeting, the URISA Board of Directors again considered the draft Sierra Club vs. Orange County, California amicus brief.  A Board motion to sign an earlier version of the brief on February 2 failed to pass a vote.

The Board’s deliberation followed a joint URISA Board and Policy Committee conference call to discuss the Board’s February 2 decision in light of the Policy’s Committee’s recommendation to sign the brief.  Glenn O’Grady, Policy Committee Chair, was invited to again discuss the matter with the Board during the February 24 meeting.
Before considering the question of signing the SC v. OC amicus brief, the Board drafted and approved the following data sharing policy that reflects URISA’s role as an international organization and the need for the organization to be aware of data policies and situations in many countries:

It is URISA’s policy that all units of government should freely provide the means for their citizens to fully participate in their own governance by publishing and otherwise supplying geospatial data to all interested parties.  URISA believes that governmental geospatial programs must be appropriately funded and that there are multiple acceptable mechanisms for such funding.  Credible studies have shown that the value of geospatial data to the governmental agencies and the people they serve increases with the breadth of data sharing.
The Board then discussed reconsideration of signing the draft amicus brief.  However no motion to sign the brief reached the floor for a vote by the Board.

The Board did agree to continue advocating for the principles outlined in the data sharing policy.  Specific actions will include continued pursuit of URISA’s 2011-2012 Advocacy Agenda item 2 (Nationwide Development of High Quality, Publicly Accessible Geospatial Data), participation in COGO’s URISA/NSGIC – Data Sharing Legal & Policy Framework initiative, and advocating for the newly approved URISA data sharing policy with state governors and legislatures.

Individual URISA members are free to make their own choice to sign or not to sign the SC v. OC amicus brief.  The value of a professional organization is not to tell its members what to think in a case like this. It is to create an environment where each individual can be exposed to the range of arguments about the issue so that they can make their own decision.  This would be the case no matter how the Board voted.

Greg Babinski, MA, GISP
URISA President

[Source: URISA press release]

Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Barmah Forest Virus Disease in Queensland, Australia

PLoS ONE, published 13 Oct 2011

Suchithra Naish, Wenbiao Hu, Kerrie Mengersen, Shilu Tong

“Background: Barmah Forest virus (BFV) disease is a common and wide-spread mosquito-borne disease in Australia. This study investigated the spatio-temporal patterns of BFV disease in Queensland, Australia using geographical information system (GIS) tools and geostatistical analysis.

Maps showing the inverse distance weighting interpolated incidence rates of BFV disease by SLA over different periods (A:1993–1996, B:1997–2000, C:2001–2004 and D:2005–2008).

Maps showing the inverse distance weighting interpolated incidence rates of BFV disease by SLA over different periods (A:1993–1996, B:1997–2000, C:2001–2004 and D:2005–2008).

“Methods/Principal Findings: We calculated the incidence rates and standardised incidence rates of BFV disease. Moran’s I statistic was used to assess the spatial autocorrelation of BFV incidences. Spatial dynamics of BFV disease was examined using semi-variogram analysis. Interpolation techniques were applied to visualise and display the spatial distribution of BFV disease in statistical local areas (SLAs) throughout Queensland. Mapping of BFV disease by SLAs reveals the presence of substantial spatio-temporal variation over time. Statistically significant differences in BFV incidence rates were identified among age groups (χ2 = 7587, df = 7327,p

“Conclusions/Significance: This is the first study to examine spatial and temporal variation in the incidence rates of BFV disease across Queensland using GIS and geostatistics. The BFV transmission varied with age and gender, which may be due to exposure rates or behavioural risk factors. There are differences in the spatio-temporal patterns of BFV disease which may be related to local socio-ecological and environmental factors. These research findings may have implications in the BFV disease control and prevention programs in Queensland.”