Predicting Biodiversity Potential Using a Modified Layers of Habitat Model

    Published: Jan 2004

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    Ecological resources of the 360-km2 Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation property in the Oquirrh Mountains has been studied since the 1970s. Detailed descriptions of the vegetation were undertaken in 1994 as part of a site-wide Ecological Risk Assessment (EcoRA). A vegetation map was produced from infrared aerial photographs and floristics lists were compiled for a site-wide ecological risk assessment. Vegetation cover was characterized using a relevé sampling procedure. Data from georeferenced relevé sampling points were used to propagate vertical structure characteristics across polygons. We adapted the Layers of Habitat HSI Model and calculated an index value for each polygon. Submontane shrub and the submontane shrub/desert shrub cover types comprised 32% and 12% respectively of the site-wide index; contributing more to the site-wide index than their area would suggest. Conversely, the grassland and salt desert shrub cover types contributed less to the site-wide index than their area would suggest. Index values were grouped into pentiles and the polygons were displayed in GIS format to illustrate the spatial distribution of structural diversity. The Layers of Habitat model is a surrogate for biodiversity (richness) potential. The spatial representation of structural diversity is being used to guide management practices to enhance site-wide biodiversity.


    Biodiversity, landscape characterization, vertical structure

    Author Information:

    Kapustka, LA
    President and Senior Ecotoxicologist, ecological planning and toxicology, inc, Corvallis, OR

    Galbraith, H
    Galbraith Environmental Sciences, Newfane, VT

    Luxon, M
    Ecotoxicologist, Windward Environmental LLC, Seattle, WA

    Yocum, JM
    Environmental Scientist, ecological planning and toxicology, inc, Corvallis, OR

    Adams, WJ
    Principle Environmental Scientist, Rio Tinto Health Safety and Environment, Murray, UT

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.02

    DOI: 10.1520/STP11946S

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