MODEL FOR PREDICTING BIRD SPECIES RICHNESS IN RELATION TO DEVELOPMENT• West Springfield, Massachusetts

 

Numerous landscape architects, scientists, and those concerned about the health of natural systems have argued that natural systems should be considered as primary physical infrastructure of a city. And increasing scientific evidence supports the need for the position. The intention of this project was to support this argument with effective, practical, and defensible tools.

The project shows how a municipality can develop a computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) model that takes readily available data and effectively predict the effects of proposed development on natural system. Specifically, the model evaluates the changes in landscape pattern caused by development on bird habitat.

The model used McConnell land cover information for a 400 square kilometer area of West Springfield, Massachusetts. It developed a digital scripting sequence that predicts bird species type and richness in response to predicted land development patterns. Using this model, city officials and citizens can be better equipped to evaluate proposed development’s effects on natural systems--and avert potentially damaging results.

The model was completed in collaboration with Kristina Hill. The diagrams show the paired before and after analyses based on types of birds: Forest Interior Species (top left), Old Field (top right), and Suburban Generalists (bottom left). The composite map is shown in the bottom left. The map to the left shows the original landscape types before development scenarios were applied.

 

  Copyright Kathy Poole, all rights reserved, subject to all fair use regulations, not to be reproduced or used without expressed written permission.