Progress 05/01/06 to 12/31/06
This project aims to develop methods and software that will be used for evaluating the effects of human population change and land-use change on biodiversity. Changes in human population and land use affect the viability of native species through habitat loss to agriculture, urban sprawl, and industrial development; habitat fragmentation; decreased habitat quality; and increased direct harvest of species. Applied Biomathematics has developed internationally known software for modeling the viability of species. The goal of the proposed work is to incorporate the human element into this methodology, and develop an objective method for incorporating human demographic trends and land-use patterns into the assessment threatened and endangered species, the evaluation of management plans, and impact assessment of proposed development projects. In this project, we are developing software that will integrate models for projecting human population change and land-use change with
models for evaluating the viability or persistence of wildlife species. This software tool will have two major innovations: First, it will incorporate both natural landscape dynamics (based on RAMAS Landscape) and other types of human-induced land-use changes. Second, it will allow predicting land-use changes as a function of projected human population changes, based on a human demographic module. The resulting software will provide an integrated modeling platform, allowing users to employ both standard and innovative techniques to forecast changes in human population, the possible effects of these changes on human land-use and resource-use patterns, and the subsequent changes in the habitat of native species. The software will use these dynamic projections of habitat quality and structure change to assess species viability and persistence (using an existing metapopulation viability program developed by the project investigators). Although our goal in this Phase I project is a generic
tool, we started the project with a practical case study, in order to decide what features would be most useful. In this case study, we developed statistical models of landscape change, for a region in the Midwestern United States comprised of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The data for this case study were obtained from The Changing Midwest Assessment of the US Forest Service, North Central Research Station (http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/). In this project we also designed and developed a land-use simulator module, and implemented its basic functions.
The proposed research and the resulting product will contribute to the protection and enhancement of the nation's natural resource base and environment, by providing an objective method to incorporate human demographic trends and land-use patterns into the assessment of the viability of threatened and endangered species in dynamic landscapes, the evaluation of management plans from the perspective of changes in land-use and its effects on biodiversity, and in impact assessment of proposed development projects. As the human population grows and spreads, these issues, which are now intensifying in various wildland-urban interface communities, will become more widespread. Any plan that deals with issues such as suburban sprawl, habitat loss and fragmentation, or protection of remaining biodiversity hotspots near wildland-urban boundaries already tries to incorporate effects of human population dynamics and projected changes in land-use patterns. The software we propose to
develop will make this more objective, and will encourage managers, planners, and assessors to make their assumptions explicit and to explicitly consider uncertainties. This, we believe, will lead to increased transparency and increased shareholder participation.
- No publications reported this period