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GIS in Ecology: Visualizing Crucial Wildlife Habitats in Relation to Municipal Areas of Salt Lake County

By Justin Sorensen

GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) are utilized by many fields and industries throughout the world. To highlight some of these fields, our Map Monday releases for the 2018 Fall Semester will provide examples of ways GIS can be employed within the work performed by such professionals.

For this map release, we will look at an example of GIS in Ecology.

Visualizing Crucial Wildlife Habitats in Relation to Municipal Areas of Salt Lake County

In the field of ecology, a habitat is defined as the natural environment in which a species of organisms lives. It is a place that is crucial for food, shelter, protection, and the overall well-being of the species. Ecologists study many environmental factors that affect these habitats including: temperature, humidity, climate, soil, light, and sustainable resources. One area in which an ecologist might employ GIS is to identify areas of human impact on crucial wildlife habitats. To demonstrate this influence, this map depicts the crucial habitats of (6) wildlife species located within Salt Lake County, Utah. By performing a geospatial comparison of each habitat to the continually evolving municipal boundaries, a visualization for areas of human influence on crucial wildlife habitats is presented, which may be utilized for future developments and studies involving habit change.

When developing an example such as this, several geospatial processes are employed to depict the features being visualized within the map. These geospatial processes include:

  • Merge Transformations: a tool which combines a number of selected features into a single element.
  • Clip Transformations: a tool which cuts a portion of a selected feature based on the overlaying boundaries of another.
  • Calculate Geometry Analysis: a tool which calculates the area, length, or other geometric properties of a particular geospatial feature.

Interested in additional examples of GIS in Ecology? Check out these Map Monday releases:

About Map Monday from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will release bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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