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Friday's Findings - June 5 2020

June 1, 2020

Constructing Realistic Species Distribution and Habitat Modelling Map Products: Challenges and Opportunities

Date: June 5, 2020 from 2 - 2:30 p.m. eastern time

Speaker: Thomas C. Edwards, Jr., USGS Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University

Webinar Link

Join by phone: 1-510-338-9438 (USA Toll)

Access code: 126 954 6844

Aspen Forest
Aspen Forest. (Credit: Doug Shinneman. Public domain.)

Summary: Virtually all spatially-based (landscape-scale) management and conservation relies to some extent on knowledge of species distributions.  At the level of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), distributions are clearly integral to the vast bulk of ESA-related Federal Register documentation, as well as on the USFWS ECOS site.  In addition, defensible distributions are an integral part of most state-based Wildlife Action Plans (WAP), as well as being important to land management agencies such as the BLM, NPS, and USFS.  Species distribution and habitat models (SDHM) represent output from an analytical flow that first organizes plant and animal locations, then applies a wide range of statistical algorithms to model relationships between the locations and sets of environmental predictors.  Output of the statistical model is usually a GIS map product indicating spatially explicit, probability-based likelihoods where a species may be found.  This presentation provides a short overview of potential applications of SDHMs, and focuses on means to enhance the defensibility of such models and reduce their decision-risk in application arenas.



Speaker Biography: Dr. Edwards currently leads a national effort on boot-strapping species distribution and habitat modeling (SDHM) processes into the 21st century. As part of this effort, he teaches numerous R-based workshops on analytical methods for biologists ranging from data management and manipulation to applied statistics to advanced courses in species distribution modelling.  These courses are taught via TALENT in collaboration with FWS NCTC, and the distribution and habitat modelling course is sponsored by both FWS Ecological Services and AFWA.  Dr. Edwards received his Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida in 1987, and is currently is a Research Ecologist and Assistant Leader with the US Geological Survey, Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Professor in the Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University.