GIS Environmental Applications

GIS is a collection of computer software, hardware and geographic data utilized in the capture, management, analysis and display of geographically referenced information. GIS is a valuable tool that can be implemented in answering spatial questions regarding biological and ecological applications.

I worked as a GIS Lab Assistant for a UC Santa Cruz research project analyzing the effectiveness of natural bird-based pest control on Sacramento Valley farmland. For this project I conducted GIS and other data entry, including integrating and digitizing GPS data and map projections, developed and managed a GIS relational database and produced maps.


Skills and Techniques:

  • Data reprojection
  • Adding vector data
  • Setting data frame properties, projections and display units
  • Selecting coordinate systems
  • Working with grey-scale images
  • Creation of geodatabases
  • Digitizing features
  • Inserting and changing vertexes
  • Creating and editing attribute values
  • Performing spatial operations
  • Merging, inserting and clipping features
  • Geoprocessing
  • Spatial and attribute queries
  • Distance mapping
  • Field calculator
  • Density analysis
  • Map creation

Sample Project:

A Spatial Analysis of Threatened and Endangered Avian Populations on the Island of Kauai’i, Hawaii

Rose Alina Sniatowski
Gis for environmental applications, UCSC
December 5, 2005


The preservation of habitat for rare and endangered species is necessary in the Hawaiian Islands to mitigate the future loss of biodiversity integral to the biological and cultural heritage of the Hawaiian Islands. This need is in response to a wide range of human activities resulting in removal, fragmentation, and alteration of habitat, which threaten biological diversity. The area of interest in this spatial analysis included all unprotected or unmanaged lands on the island of Kauai’i. These regions contained eleven different species of endangered aves, five of which were forest birds and six of which were lowlands or wetlands birds. GIS was implemented in performing three types of analysis to clarify what areas best met the protection needs of endangered avian species on the island. A density analysis provided information regarding the distribution of each individual species, while probability contours were used to define home ranges and priority areas for protection. After a brief gap analysis, the coastal and wetlands birds were chosen for more careful examination, due to the lack of protected areas that fit their habitat requirements. The priority protection areas defined by the combination of these three types of analysis included three key sites for protection: the restoration of wetlands in what is now unused military land; the acquisition of a patch of low elevation land both high in density for individual species and in which the probability of finding many of the endangered species is high; as well as a small plot of land adjacent to currently protected areas that contains all remaining records of unprotected forest birds.

Sample Map:

Maps of each species and a final map of priority protection areas were produced for this analysis. Due to the sensitive nature of this projects content the full text and maps are not available online.

Home | Conservation Biology | GIS | Teaching Experience Other Interests | Resume | Recommendation Letters | Contact Info
Copyright © 2006 RSniatowski All rights reserved.