Vista use for DoD Military Installation Management in a Landscape Context

Conserving and restoring imperiled speceisUS

About This Project

This project was the result of a US Department of Defense (DoD) Legacy Grant to explore the use of species distribution modeling for rare and imperiled species and the use of Vista for vulernability assessment and conservation and restoration in a landscape context. To achieve the objectives, the project team worked with the natural resource staff of the three installations (Boardman Navel Weapons Systems Training Facility, Eglin Airforce Base, Fort Huachuca) to select a sample of high priority species that are imperiled and of concern to the installation due to the fact that these species could impact military activities (hereinafter “at-risk species”). Then the project team created predictive distribution models for these at-risk species using the “random forest” modeling package - the best approach when prediction accuracy is the primary goal. Inputs included many types of environmental data including highly detailed species occurrence data, and input from species experts on the species probability cutoff thresholds. This process resulted in very accurate predictive models identifying where species are known to occur, and where there is a high probability of occurrence in and around the installations. Next, the team integrated the predictive modeling results with many land use and land management data layers into the decision support tool NatureServe Vista. It is specifically designed to support a regional analysis of land use and land management effects on species conservation goals. This analysis provided information on the degree of impact each land use could have on each at-risk species, leading to the identification of areas of conflict and areas of mitigation opportunities. Based on the vulnerability assessment results, the team was able to work with DoD staff to determine where threats or opportunities for recovery are located in and around the installations.

A webinar on the Vista portion of this project can be viewed at https://dodnatres.adobeconnect.com/p702wq9l67e/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal

 

Goal

This project was the result of a US Department of Defense (DoD) Legacy Grant to explore the use of species distribution modeling for rare and imperiled species and the use of Vista for vulernability assessment and conservation and restoration in a landscape context. 

Significance

This project addresses the challenges inherent to modeling at-risk species by leveraging a uniquely comprehensive dataset of at-risk species locations, along with a team of both technical and biological experts. This data and expertise from NatureServe and its network of member programs increased the species location data samples available and the resulting precision of the distribution models, which validated with high accuracy. The three project sites encompassed a wide range of environmental conditions and the consistent methodology worked well at all three sites with no loss in quality. This consistency, along with using information and expertise from organizations holding the most consistent and comprehensive data sets for at-risk species brings us a step closer to making these methods more transferrable and readily applied wherever this work is needed.
The participating installations were given access to the vulnerability analysis inputs and outputs in a decision support tool that can be updated and expanded by the installations. Thus vulnerability assessments can be re-run and expanded as additional and updated information on land use, land management, species distribution, and species status is available. This tool supports an accurate and current view from which planning and land management decisions can be made at a regional scale in collaboration with other land management agencies and organizations.