Principal Investigator

Brian Lee, Department of Landscape Architecture
M. Keith Wethington
Kentucky Deptartment of Fish & Wildlife Resources

Undergraduate Researcher
Collin Linebach, Department of Landscape Architecture

Project Summary
Terrestrial Vertebrate Habitat Change Characterization in Kentucky, Pilot Project

Project Description
Habitat loss and fragmentation is often cited as one of the most important reasons for the decline of biological diversity around the world as well as in Kentucky. Understanding how the landscape is changing is essential for identifying viable habitat for wildlife management. This project leveraged the existing methods and data of the original Kentucky GAP Analysis (Wethington et al., 2003) sponsored by the United States Geological Survey and principally performed by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and Murray State University researchers.

Gap analysis is a scientific method for identifying the degree to which animal species and natural communities are represented in the present-day mix of conservation lands. Those species and communities not adequately represented in the existing network of conservation lands constitute conservation "gaps." The purpose of the Gap Analysis Program (GAP) was to collect broad geographic information on the status of species and their habitats in order to provide land managers, planners, scientists, and policy makers with the information they need to make better-informed decisions (Gap Analysis Program, 2000).

The original Kentucky GAP Analysis was performed using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery that is almost two decades old. Subsequently, habitat suitability maps currently used are also more than a decade old. There is a need to update the basic maps for management and planning purposes. In addition, there is currently not the capability to more holistically understand how the landscape is changing over time in relation to wildlife habitat across the state particularly for species of special concern.

This pilot project utilized landcover data available from the Kentucky Landscape Snapshot project based on 2001 and 2005 Landsat imagery. These new landcover data provided the opportunity to update wildlife habitat suitability maps. The 2001 and 2005 Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program's (EMAP) Hexagons were also used to quantify the amount and spatial configuration of terrestrial vertebrate habitat. This provided the opportunity to test for differences in amount, location, and spatial configuration of suitable wildlife habitats and to grossly characterize how terrestrial vertebrate species habitat is changing across the state.

1. Produce wildlife models based on 2001 and 2005 landcover data. 
2. Quantify amount and spatial configuration by EMAP Hexagons 2001 and 2005 of terrestrial vertebrate habitat.
3. Test for quantitative differences in habitat metrics of Objective Three.
4. Visualize advancing and declining habitat via EMAP Hexagons.

Related Documents

• A Pilot Project to Visualize Kentucky's Modeled Vertebrate Habitat Change


Related Links

• Gap Analysis Program

• Kentucky Wildlife Action Plan Homepage

• Kentucky Landscape Snapshot

• Landsat Science

Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium

• Kentucky Land Cover Change Detection 2001/2005

• Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources

• Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)

• ESRI ArcGIS: A Complete Integrated System

• ESRI ArcGIS Spatial Analyst: Advanced Raster GIS Spatial Analysis