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GIS rasters to identify sites for creating habitat for American Woodcock in Rhode Island

Citation

Buffum, Bill (2021), GIS rasters to identify sites for creating habitat for American Woodcock in Rhode Island, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.pg4f4qrp6

Abstract

The University of Rhode Island has conducted several studies of habitat use of Scolopax minor (American Woodcock) in Rhode Island, USA. In 2020 we developed a new species distribution model (SDM) tool to identify sites in the Rhode Island where forest clearcutting to create young forest habitat would have the most positive effect for American woodcock. A typical SDM predicts the probability of presence (POP) of a species at any location based on an analysis of known occurrences and environmental variables, but it cannot predict how much the POP of a species would change after a new patch of young forest is created in any location. We believe that our new tool is effective, and that it will help landowners identify the best locations on their properties to improve woodcock habitat. We also believe that similar tools can be developed for other wildlife species of conservation concern. We created the new tool by modifying the existing 2018 SDM raster for American Woodcock in Rhode Island. Creating the tool involved creating four new ArcGIS raster datasets. The existing 2018 SDM raster and the four new rasters are now publicly available in a geodatabase in the Dryad repository.

Methods

We used Maxent 3.4.1 to create our new SDM tool, and ArcGIS Desktop 10.6 to store the output raster datasets in a geodatabase that can only opened with geographic information system (GIS) software. The geodatabase uploaded to Dryad (Woodcock_POP_2018_Rasters) contains five raster datasets that cover the entire state of Rhode Island. A brief description of the five rasters is provided below. We provide a detailed description of how we created our new SDM tool, and how the tool can be used, in the following journal article: Bill Buffum, Roger Masse and Scott R. McWilliams (2021) Novel Use of Species Distribution Modeling to Identify High Priority Sites for American Woodcock Habitat Management. Northeastern Naturalist 28: p. 233-247.

Woodcock_POP_2018:  This raster (10m pixels) shows the 2018 probability of presence for woodcock in RI. It  is based on Maxent modelling of three years woodcock location data, obtained by catching 68 woodcock in RI in the spring, attaching transmitters, and tracking their movements until August. The Maxent model was projected onto 2018 spatial data.

Woodcock Upland POP 2018: This raster (50m pixels) shows the 2018 probability of presence for woodcock in RI. It is similar to Woodcock POP 2018, but it has 50m pixels and only includes upland forest areas which are suitable for clearcuts to create young forest habitat.

Woodcock POP After Forest Mgt 2018: This raster (50m pixels) was the primary product of our new SDM tool.  It shows the predicted probability of presence for woodcock in RI if young forest habitat is created at any upland forest location in RI.

Increase in Woodcock POP After Forest Mgt 2018: This raster (50m pixels) shows the predicted increase in probability of presence for woodcock in RI if young forest habitat is created at any site. It was produced by using raster calculator to subtract the POP values of Woodcock Upland POP 2018 from Woodcock POP After Forest Mgt 2018

Top Priority Sites for Forest Mgt: This raster (50m pixels) shows the top priority (top 20% and top 40%) sites for creating young forest habitat for woodcock in Rhode Island. The top 20% sites include area where both the predicted POP increase after forest management and the predicted POP after forest management are in the top 20% class. The top 40% sites include areas where both the predicted POP increase after forest management and the predicted POP after forest management are in the top 40% range.

Usage Notes

The ArcGIS raster datasets can only be viewed by using geographic information system (GIS) software such as ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Pro (Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, CA). The geodatabase, a compressed version of which is uploaded to Dryad, contains a total of 619 files, but when it is opened with GIS software, the five raster datasets will be visible and easily opened. 

Funding

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the University of Rhode Island, Award: AWD 3695774