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A Riparian Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Scheme Developed Using GIS

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Iverson, Louis R.; Szafoni, Diane L.; Baum, Sharon E.; Cook, Elizabeth A.; Cook, Elizabeth A.

Year Published



Environmental Management. 28(5): 639-654.


To evaluate riparian habitat for wildlife, we used a geographic information system (GIS) that prioritized individual streams (for acquisition or management) by habitat ranking. We demonstrate this methodology for the Vermilion River basin in east-central Illinois, USA. Three data sets were used to evaluate land cover encompassing 300 m on either side of the streams: (1) the US Geological Survey's land use and land cover information (LUDA), (2) land cover manually digitized from the National High Altitude Photography (NHAP) program, and (3) Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data classified into land cover. Each of 30 tributaries in the study area was ranked for habitat according to the data contained in each data set, and results were compared. Habitat ranking schemes were devised and analysis performed for three species guilds: forest, grassland, and mixed successional species. TM and NHAP each differentiated habitat scores (for forest, grassland, and mixed successional guilds) among tributaries in a similar and suitable way, while LUDA was not suitable, due to the coarse resolution of the data. Overall, it was shown that the methodology is suitable to rank streams based on riparian habitat quality. Even though more work is needed to test and verify the method, the project has shown the potential for such techniques to assist in evaluating, tracking, and improving the management of riparian wildlife resources. The method can easily be applied over large areas such as states if TM-based land cover and stream data are available.


landscape ecology; riparian habitat; wildlife habitat; GIS; Illinois; spatial analysis


Iverson, Louis R.; Szafoni Diane L.; Baum, Sharon E.; Cook, Elizabeth A. 2001. A Riparian Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Scheme Developed Using GIS. Environmental Management. 28(5): 639-654.

Last updated on: May 23, 2007