GIS Map Gallery: June 2003

Virginia Gap Species Richness Map

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Virginia Gap Species Richness Map

Gap Analysis is a proactive approach to managing for biodiversity. A cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey, the Conservation Management Institute and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the goal of the Virginia Gap Analysis Project is to identify areas of high biodiversity with low conservation protection. These "gaps" in the reserve network can then be targeted for biodiversity management. A model of species richness, a measure of biodiversity calculated by the total number of species potentially occurring in an area, is an important product of this process. A predicted distribution map was created for each terrestrial vertebrate species known to occur in Virginia.

Predicted distribution was based on county range data and habitat use within that range. Data from the VDGIF's Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service (VAFWIS), scientific literature, and an extensive expert review were used to provide information on range and habitat use for each species. Once predicted distribution maps were created for each species, the values were summed to produce the species richness map above. Species richness maps have been created for broad taxanomic groups including birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

This overall richness map was compared to a map of "Stewardship", or areas protecting and/or managing for biodiversity (e.g., wilderness areas, wildlife refuges), to identify gaps in Virginia's biodiversity conservation network. This project continues to be refined and updated as better information becomes available.

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