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Mapping plant species ranges in the Hawaiian Islands: developing a methodology and associated GIS layers.

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Title: Mapping plant species ranges in the Hawaiian Islands: developing a methodology and associated GIS layers.
Authors: Price, John P.
Gon III, Samuel M.
Jacobi, James D.
Matsuwaki, Dwight
Keywords: Climate
Vegetation classification
Geographic information systems
human impact
Issue Date: Nov 2007
Series/Report no.: TR-HCSU;008
Related To:
Abstract: This report documents components of a methodology for projecting the
geographic ranges of plant species in the Hawaiian Islands. This consists primarily of the creation of several GIS data layers depicting attributes related to the geographic ranges of plant species. The most important data layer generated here is an objectively-defined classification of climate as it pertains to the distribution of plant species. By examining previous zonal vegetation classifications in light of spatially detailed climate data, we explicitly define broad zones of climate relevant to contemporary concepts of vegetation in the Hawaiian Islands. A second spatial data layer presented here considers substrate age, since large areas of the island of Hawai‘i in particular are covered by very young lava flows, which are inimical to the growth of many plant species. The third data layer presented here divides larger islands, which are composites of multiple volcanoes, into definable biogeographic regions, since many species are restricted to a given topographically isolated mountain or a specified group of these. A final spatial data layer depicts human impact, which reduces the range of many species relative to where they formerly occurred. Several other factors that influence the geographic ranges of species, including topography, soils, and disturbance, are discussed here but not developed further due to limitations in rendering them
spatially. We describe a method for analyzing these base layers in a geographic information system (GIS), in conjunction with a database of species distributions, to project the ranges of plant species, including the potential range prior to human disturbance and the projected present range. Examples of range maps for several species are given as case studies that demonstrate different spatial characteristics of range. We discuss several potential applications of species range maps including
facilitation of field surveys, informing restoration efforts, studies of range size and rarity, studies of biodiversity, conservation planning, and invasive species management.
Pages/Duration: 67
Appears in Collections:Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU)

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