Habitat Suitability Analysis for the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander in Florida
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Species conservation and habitat protection are significant ecological issues that the internationally community has been addressing for decades, yet are challenging to incorporate into city and regional planning. The value of a species is difficult to quantify and measure against the potential for economic development and expansion of housing and industry. GIS offers a way to analyze land area according to multiple values and potential uses. Raster analysis is particularly useful in determining suitability of land uses as well as prioritizing development and preservation of land based on a set of weighted inputs. This project seeks to model a way that GIS can be used to determine suitability of areas in a defined region to provide habitat for a threatened or endangered species and prioritize areas for conservation to inform policy decisions. The focus of this study is on the spatial relationships between habitat factors that can support a specific species. In this case, the habitat factors include vegetative cover, proximity to freshwater wetlands, and distance from developed areas (which are completely unsuitable). The species of concern is a threatened salamander native to the southeastern United States, the frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum). The study area is the entire state of Florida.