Improving wildlife-habitat modeling and assessments with lidar

Science Center Objects

Lidar has proven itself as a valuable tool for providing high-resolution digital elevation models and for quantifying forest stand metrics utilized by the forest industry. Studies are only beginning to emerge relating lidar data directly to wildlife species occurrences and abundances.  NPWRC has been assessing capabilities of lidar data in various ecosystems to include the mixed forests in Maine and Minnesota, woodlots in North Dakota, sagebrush steppe in Wyoming, and riparian systems along the Central Platte River, Nebraska as well as arid riparian areas in the Great Basin of Nevada.  Improving the predictive ability of wildlife-habitat relationship models that utilize remote sensing technologies such as lidar, especially when combined with other remotely-sensed images (e.g., Landsat), should lead to better mapping of wildlife species occurrences and abundances, and thus better management decisions across broad landscape. We also are using lidar-derived digital elevation models and canopy heights to assist in characterizing American bison movements in National Parks in North Dakota and South Dakota.