Tuesday, June 15, 2010
A new national map of the ecosystems of America could help keep healthy species from ending up endangered. Through ground and satellite surveys of land cover, the U. S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program has generated data that conservationists may be able to use to create and sustain habitat for wildlife. “These data are critical for determining the status of biodiversity, as baseline data for assessing climate change impacts, and for predicting the availability of habitat for wildlife,” said John Mosesso, the USGS manager of GAP in a press release. “Large datasets of this type are extremely important to land and wildlife managers because they allow for analysis and planning across extensive geographic areas.” The Gap Analysis Program is charged with figuring out which common species’ habitats may not be well represented by existing parks and conservation areas. The only way to do that is to mash up a bunch of data about species and land use.
In addition to the large map above, there is a searchable, zoomable mapping system available. You can download the data that underpins the visualizations, too.