Environmental Applications in GIS (Biol/EnvSt/Geog 362)

Great Lakes Campus - Summer Session II

Course Description

Theory and application of spatial analysis for applied social and ecological problem-solving. This course combines GPS field data collection; ArcGIS use for storage, processing, interpretation, and presentation of data; location and integration of existing source information; and remote sensing integration with GIS applications. The course is designed around an environmental project to apply GIS techniques for real-world problem-solving in protecting and restoring ecosystems.  Field, Applied, Interdisciplinary.

Professor: Dr. Mark Gathany
Meets: Tuesday & Thursday

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Knowledge Gained

  • Examination of foundational principles of geography and cartography
  • An understanding of how to collect a spatially balanced sample
  • A working knowledge of spatial statistics
  • Experience working with remote sensed imagery and their processing
  • A better understanding of landscape ecology and associated issues in conservation and environmental planning. 

Skills Developed

  • Data Collection:
    • Use of recreational (Garmin) and professional (Trimble) GPS units
    • Field collection of spatial features (e.g. trees) and their attributes (e.g. species) using GPS
    • Experience with Trimble’s TerraSync and GPS Pathfinder Office and/or Esri’s ArcPad software for field data collection
    • Integrating GPS and GIS to generate new data layers
    • Searching, accessing, downloading and displaying web-based data
  • Data manipulation & analysis:
    • A working knowledge of Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop software
    • ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcToolbox, Spatial Analyst & 3D Analyst
    • Exploration of open source GIS packages such as QGIS or GRASS
    • GoogleEarth Standard and Pro for visualization and accessing real-time data updates
    • Creating and editing features in the digital environment
    • Working with remotely sensed imagery for analysis or visualization purposes
    • Investigation of habitat loss, fragmentation, and isolation with FragStats/PatchAnalyst
  • Project and data management:
    • Proceed through all of the stages of a project from conception to presentation
    • Produce a portfolio to exhibit your newly developed skillset

Field Experiences

  • Creating a trail map using a common (recreational grade) GPS unit
  • Developing and implementing a strategy for complex data collection in the field
  • Remote sensing “ground truthing”
  • Tentative plans for some or all of the following:
    • wetland delineation (soils, hydrology, and vegetation)
    • vegetation mapping
    • habitat suitability
    • fire severity mapping
  • Time for individual-based projects


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