Assessing the Potential Utility of Select State-owned Lands for Vertebrate Conservation
Type of Degreethesis
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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With limited resources available for conservation, it is imperative that efficient state conservation plans be developed to protect species of greatest conservation need (GCN species). Through the Inventory and Conservation Planning (ICP) project, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit have collected data on GCN species and habitat on select state-owned lands. Using this information, we proposed development of decision support tools that will provide a spatial depiction of the most useful areas for conservation of each vertebrate GCN species and a relative conservation utility of each study area for the conservation of GCN species. We first determined which species occurred on ICP lands and where it would be ecologically appropriate to manage for them. Alabama GAP Analysis Project (AL-GAP) data were used to identify potential habitat in the Southeastern Plains ecoregion of Alabama. We then identified those areas where appropriate management actions for these species are feasible. Finally, we used the availability and arrangement of resources on the landscape to determine the relative utility of each property for each species. Each of these objectives was incorporated into a geographic information system which was analyzed using kernel density estimation to generate estimates of potential conservation utility. Through this research, we intend to provide land managers and conservation decision makers with additional information to augment field data and other resources used to make conservation decisions.