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Museums & Species Papers 1

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(ECP and CTSP grantees, reports, and other sites of interest for conservation geograpy, mapping and GIS. Grantees are coded by program and year of grant at the end of their name/state, i.e. e91 means ECP grant in 1991. c=cstp, cm=ctsp-mac, cs=ctsp-software)

Scholarly papers and ESRI Conference Proceedings

A Digital Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Utah (1995 ESRI Paper, R. Douglas Ramsey, Thadeus Tilton, Bonnie B. Banner ,Allan Falconer) ...Collection locations of over 400,000 vascular plant specimens of 2,438 species were digitized from the Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Utah (Albee, Shultz, and Goodrich, 1988). Source maps consisted of 1:6,000,000 approximate scale Utah shaded relief maps with points representing collection locations by species. Location points were transposed onto these maps from the herbaria records of three major universities and the Forest Service.

Collating Multidisciplinary Museum Specimen Data Using ArcView: The Modoc County Project (1997 ESRI Paper, Tom Moritz, California Academy of Sciences Golden Gate Park San Francisco, CA 94118, Telephone: 415-759-7101 Fax: 415-750-7106 E-mail:, George Chaplin ) . By conservative estimate, the natural history museums of North America hold over 400 million biological specimens. These collections represent the largest raw data set depicting the world's biodiversity. The Modoc County project sought to test the potential utility of these data by selecting a relatively simple and manageable geographic region (Modoc County-northeastern California), acquiring a number of available map layers and then inputting specimen data for the County (derived from a variety of disciplinary and institutional sources). The results of this effort are presented and evaluated with implications for the general utility of museum specimen data.

An Expert System for Identifying Plants from Their Visible Features (1996 Paper, M. Al-Gharabat, E. Campbell, D. Johnson, W. Nathan, J.R. Schoolar, F. Winters, and D. Mitra )...In this paper we present the result of a project on developing an expert system for identifying plants from their visible features. The system is an interactive one which asks questions to a non-expert user and gradually narrows down the possibilities, eventually deciding about the identity of the plant in question. Currently it identifies forty-eight plants of types tree, vine, or shrub.

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS) AS A TOOL IN NATIVE PLANT SPECIES CONSERVATION (Darrel L. McDonald, David L. Creech, and David L. Kulhavy Geography/Horticulture/Forestry Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches, Texas 75962-3045) "Abstract. - Texas has a diverse flora with over 5500 species in ten vegetation zones. The Pineywoods of East Texas contain forty (40%) percent of the native plants identified for Texas. Although most species are stable, about 50 species can be considered as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable, depending on what list or information resource one is looking at. The database for East Texas plant communities has not been attempted except in a piecemeal fashion. Completion of a native plant species inventory and spatial assessment should be a high priority item to insure current and accurate information is available for evaluation of the impact of habitat change. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology offers powerful applications to the storage, management, and spatial analysis of species inventories, plant community dynamics, long-term habitat monitoring. This paper provides a general overview of GIS applications in native plant conservation."

A GIS Analysis Of The Fishes Of Guyana . (by Deokie Arjoon, University of Guyana, Turkeyen, Guyana. Supervising Scientist: Dr V. Funk, Department of Botany. Contact: Mary Sangrey, Research Training Program, National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560-0166 U.S.A., tel:202-357-4548 FAX: 202-786-2563 E-MAIL: ) "Very little is known about the fish fauna of Guyana. This project was an effort to search for, consolidate and organize all of the museum collections' information on the fishes of Guyana...The various data formats were standardized and merged into a single computer database for analysis. Georeferencing of the collections localities were carried out using gazetteers and topography sheets of Guyana. The data were then imported into the GIS (Geographic Information System) program ArcInfo, and maps were produced using ArcView showing species distribution and collection intensity in various areas. All fish names were checked for changes using "Catalog of Fishes" by Eschemyer (1998). As a result of this project, the first modern list of species of fishes found in Guyana has been established. The species list, together with geographic collections information, should be a valuable tool for management, establishment of the country's first protected areas system, and the planning for future ichtheological expeditions."

The Impact and Role of GIS on Natural Resources Policy in Florida (by Dean K. Jue, Director, Florida Resources and Environmental Analysis Center, Presented at the FBIC Conference at Tall Timbers, Nov. 6-7, 1996) "Geographic information system (GIS) usage in Florida is increasing among both biologists and public agencies. Some of the reasons for this are discussed below as well as information on how to better use this GIS tool to provide scientific information to public decisionmakers in helping set state natural resource policies."

Mammalian Extinction Rates and Habitat Loss in the Continental United States (1996 ESRI Abstract, Roman Dial and John M. Stroud)...Using historical land use data compiled by EROS of the USGS and terrestrial mammal data compiled by state Natural Heritage Programs, this paper compares losses predicted by species-area relations to observed mammal losses for each of the forty-nine continental United States. We considered croplands and urban areas as nonhabitat, and any other, nonaquatic land cover type as habitat. We used GRID in ArcInfo to count habitat and nonhabitat pixels in each state. We then converted the raster data to vector data to quantify the size of the largest habitat fragment in each state....

EUCLID: An interactive key to the identification of Eucalypts. CD-ROM and manual. (Brooker, M.I.H. et al. 1997. ) $120 US. CSIRO Publishing. See

From Ethanol to Ethernet: Biological Collections Data Delivery on the World Wide Web (1996 Abstract, Thomas N. Kompare, James Crowder, Christine Mayer)...One of the goals of this agreement was to make the Illinois Natural History Survey's vast biological specimen collection data available to a larger scientific community. The Survey holds approximately seven million specimens. With the use of ORACLE as a data server and ArcInfo as a mapping tool, the Illinois Natural History Survey is designing an information server to distribute these collection data. This information server is accessible via the World Wide Web....Persons accessing the Illinois Natural History Survey's World Wide Web site will be able to access our collections data and receive a map of their data query "on the fly."

Testing Conservation Assumptions with Amazonian Data in a GIS . (1997 ESRI Paper, Daniel Cole Smithsonian Institute Mailstop 136 Washington DC, 20560 Telephone: 202-357-1955 Fax: 202-357-4122 E-mail: . A major challenge to preserving tropical biodiversity is the need to make conservation decisions with inadequate biological data. We explore certain implications of this obstacle by focusing on Amazonia through a GIS as an example. Two major problems with the biological data for Amazonia are that collecting efforts have been extremely patchy and species level understanding of most organisms is poor. Two approaches were taken as potential solutions to these problems. One was to find a conceptual model that would be true for all organisms and that would also have conservation implications. The second was to use available distributional data, which in turn required a major assumption for their "generalizability." As part of our general studies on understanding neotropical lowland biota, we recently revised various neotropical taxa so that good species level understandings, including their distributions, are now available for groups of organisms that were not used to make conservation recommendations by others in the past. We use these data to examine spatial patterns relative to areas of high species richness and high species endemism to critique the robustness of how well distributional data from relatively well-known groups are representative for other groups. This project is part of the ongoing work of the Neotropical Lowlands Research Project group of the National Museum of Natural History.

Vegetation mapping and classification in Madagascar (using GIS): implications and recommendations for the conservation of biodiversity. In: C.R. Huxley, J.M. Lockand D.F Cutler (editors.). Chorology, taxonomyn and ecology of the Floras of African and Madagascar. Pp 97-117. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. by Du Puy, D.J and Moat, J.F. (1998). "A map of the ‘Remaining Primary Vegetation’ in Madagascar has been derived (Map 1) and divided into broad vegetation zones. It is based on the vegetation cover map of Faramalala (1988, 1995), produced from satellite imagery, and the classification of Humbert (1955). A map of the ‘Simplified Geology’, derived from Besairie (1964), has also been produced, with the geological categories grouped into broad rock types which are thought to have a strong influence on the vegetation they support and its species composition. These two base maps have been superimposed to show the extent and distribution of the remaining primary vegetation in Madagascar, classified firstly into broad vegetation ‘zones’ and secondly by the underlying geology into vegetation ‘types’ (Maps 2 to 5; see also Du Puy and Moat, 1996). These maps have then been compared to the map of ‘Protected Areas’ (COEFOR/CI, 1993), and analysed using Geographical Information Systems (GIS)."


All text by the respective organizations, January 2, 1997

Compilation & web design: Charles Convis, ESRI Conservation Program, April 2, 1996


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