Chapter VII
The Habitat Acquisition Model (HAM)

7.1  GIS as a Tool for Habitat Acquisition
     Conversion  and depiction of the GIS data layers demonstrates that there are numerous data available for visualizing park environments.  A practical example is needed to show  that  the GIS can be a valuable decision-making tool for park managers.  The GIS itself can not make decisions, but  by manipulating and querying the GIS data a reasonable model can be constructed to aid the decision-making processes.  In this section the Habitat Acquisition Model (HAM) utilizes the GIS as a tool for identifying areas of suitable habitat for animal and plant species.
      Quail Hollow State Park is an example of  what Noss (1993) describes as an isolated "green island".  The park is surrounded by residential and agricultural land use with interspersed woodlands.  In recent years there have been increased developments near park boundaries.  Interruption of animal habitats and corridors outside the park can have an adverse affect on  biodiversity and natural succession of animal and plant species within QHSP.
     Many statistical procedures can be used for the comparison of  habitats such as correlation, regression and principal component analysis.  These types of quantitative analyses might be applied to long-term analysis of  QHSP.   Cooperrider, et al.  (1986, p. 25)  states that "the simplest of these (statistical) procedures is to compile a list of species observed or collected in a habitat component or habitat type".
     There are numerous bird species that are frequently  found in  the wetlands, woods and open fields of QHSP.  In addition, there are endangered plant species that are resident within QHSP (Table 4).  Certain species of  birds and plants have been identified  as endangered species or species of special interest by the ODNR Division of Wildlife  and Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (ODNR 1993).  Presence  of  these endangered species at QHSP suggests that habitats within the park may be critical for their survival.  Acquiring similar habitat types within the BSA might enhance the survival of endangered species and other QHSP species.
     Most  of the bird species sighted in QHSP are migratory, i.e. they are not permanent residents of QHSP.  Migrations are periodic movements of  birds from one place to another following  similar routes and returning to the same locality each time they occur (Grolier 1995).  The extent to which animals are migratory depends upon the foods that they eat, their requirements for reproduction, and the degree of seasonal climatic change in their environments. The birds return each year to breed and forage in  park habitats.  Acquisition or preservation of additional habitat  would likley maintain or improve the prosperity of migratory and resident  bird populations.
     The analysis for  identifying suitable habitat and conducting habitat acquisition scenarios began by establishing a buffer study area (BSA).  The [BUFFER] operation in ARCINFO was used to delineate a matrix of agricultural landuse and wetland habitat in a  buffer area around the park boundary.  The buffer distance was set at .5 mile as an arbitrary distance to establish a reasonable study area for the thesis.   The ARC/INFO [BUFFER] operation  calculated this distance around the  boundary of  QHSP. The rounded odd- looking buffer resulted from the shape of the QHSP boundary and the ‘ROUND' option  in the [BUFFER] command usage.  This resulting  buffered area  (5.7  square miles) was used as a realistic delimiting area for this thesis.  The BSA data layer was used to ‘clip' combined coverages of the  ODNR wetland habitat types and agricultural land use data from Stark and Portage counties and the USGS DLG coverage.
     Selection criteria  were developed for land acquisition or land preservation for  QHSP. These criteria were based on the geographic distribution on ODNR DNAP endangered species data, and wetland habitat  data of  Stark and Portage Counties obtained from ODNR Division of  Wildlife.  A single bird species, the Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus),  and one plant species (Potamogeton  spirillus), were chosen to demonstrate practical examples of the use of the GIS as a tool for park management and planning (Figure 14) .

7.2  Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
     The Sharp-shinned hawk  is designated as a bird of  ‘special interest' by  the ODNR/DNAP.  Wildlife managers need to be able to monitor numerous species in  a cost-effective and efficient method to determine trends in populations that may warrant management action (Titus and Fuller 1990).  A practical demonstration of the GIS is to use ARC/INFO  spatial functions to identify  and differentiate  the nesting and foraging habitat used by the hawk.  Riparian  or wetland habitats are especially critical to Accipiters for nesting  and foraging (White 1969).  Localizing hawk habitats using the ODNR wetland habitat data might identify areas  that  Sharp-shinned hawks use at QHSP for nesting or foraging.
    Sharp-shinned hawks have been  observed in two areas  of  QHSP  (ODNR 1994).  The sightings information  is descriptive (i.e. qualitative) and refers to areas bounded by QHSP trails.  Area ‘A' is within the boundary of the Coniferous Forest Trail in the northeast corner of QHSP.  This habitat consists of a mature evergreen forest of  White Pine and Norway Spruce.  Area ‘B' is the second area where the hawk has been sighted.  This is the boundary of the Meadowlands Trail,  an open area of tall grass meadow (refer back to Map 3).  Nesting habitat for the Sharp-shinned hawk has been identified as being restricted to coniferous forest in areas of low elevation (Reynolds 1978,  Wiggers and Kritz 1991).  The assumption can be  made that area ‘A' is the hawk nesting habitat since it is in the area of conferous forest.  Area ‘B' is assumed to be foraging habitat since it is open meadow.  Hawks are known to hunt and forage for small mammals and birds in open meadows (Jones 1979).  In addition to the Sharp-shinned hawk a second hawk species, the Northern harrier,  has also been sighted in the Meadowlands Trail area.
     The QHSP TRAILS coverage  was used to extract polygons identifying the nesting and forage areas.  Using ARCEDIT all arcs were removed from the TRAILS coverage except those of the coniferous forest and meadowlands trails.  The two remaining areas were each given a label identifier and  topology was re-established as a polygon coverage (TRAIL_POLY).   A character item, HABITAT, was added to the TRAIL_POLY coverage polygon attribute table (PAT).   Character  attributes of ‘NEST' and ‘FORAGE' were assigned  to the area ‘A' and ‘B' polygons described above.  The [RESELECT] function in ARC/INFO was used to create unique polygon coverages of areas A and B using the unique habitat item in  separate queries;  e.g. RESELECT  HABITAT = ‘NEST' or HABITAT = ‘FORAGE'.   The two resulting coverages were named HAWKNEST  and HAWKFORAGE respectively.
     The Sharp-shinned hawk is known to fly  within a 1200 meter distance of it's nesting site to it's foraging area (Platt 1973).  A 1200 meter (3936 feet) buffer (FORGBUF) was created for HAWKNEST.  The resulting area of  2.17 square miles contains the HAWKNEST coverage area  and most of the HAWKFORAGE cover.  Reynolds (1978) notes that Sharp-shinned hawks  will challenge intruders within 100 to 200 meters of their nesting site.  HAWKNEST was buffered at the maximum 200 meters (NESTBUF) to identify  an area that may impact or disturb nesting hawks.
     The buffer coverage FORGBUF was used to clip the ODNR wetland habitat coverage for the BSA resulting in HAWKHAB.   The types of habitats in HAWKHAB are likely  utilized by the Sharp-shinned hawk for foraging and nesting (Map 6).  The habitats within HAWKHAB that lie  outside of  the QHSP  boundary are likely candidates for acquisition.  Further  queries could be conducted on HAWKHAB for specific  habitats within nesting or foraging areas.

7.3  Spiral pondweed (Potamogeton spirillus)
     The second analysis identifies the location of a  threatened plant species, Spiral pondweed (Potamogeton spirillus) and the  habitat  of shallow marsh on the northern  park boundary.  This shallow marsh is classified as  wetlands (Wagner 1989).  Wetlands are defined as "areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions" (Wagner 1989, Kusler 1992).  The shallow marsh habitat is adjacent to similar wetland within QHSP.  Wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs, wet meadows and natural ponds (Wagner 1989, Cooperrider et al. 1986).
    Natural wetlands have been eliminated in favor of  land development and agricultural use.  Loss of  wetlands in Ohio has been extreme over the past 200 years (Dahl 1990, Birch and Wharton 1982).  Wetlands act as hydrologic ‘sumps' for pollutants such as pesticides and agricultural chemicals discharged through ground water (U.S. Department of the Interior 1976).  Numerous plant and animal species utilize wetlands for habitat.  Over half of the areas characterized as critical habitat by the Endangered Species Act include wetlands (Wagner 1989).
     Spiral pondweed is a tuber which refers to the bulky terminal portion of an underground stem or rhizome of a plant with modified nodes, buds, and leaves (Wagner 1989).  The functions of tubers are food storage and vegetative reproduction.  Pondweeds are important food plants for ducks, which eat both the nutlets and the rootstock.  Pondweed is a submergent plant species which requires standing water for habitat.
     The point location of  Spiral Pondweed was established from the DNAP data from Natural Heritage endangered species data.  Map 7 visualizes the wetland habitat where the threatened species occurs.  The habitat area of shallow marsh was identified as an area to be considered for acquisition or preservation in the Sharp-shinned hawk analysis (section 7.2).
    The  orthophotos from 1985 and 1995 were used in this final analysis to visually  compare the shallow marsh area (Map 7).  Differences can be observed in the comparison of  the marsh habitat.   In 1995 the portion of the marsh that lies within Quail Hollow State Park appears to be almost completely dry, whereas in 1985 it is open water.  Drainage channels can be seen clearly.  The southern edge of the marsh that lies on private land has noticeable accumultion of sediments  which may be limiting the flow of water to the marsh  within the park.  The drying of the marsh may also be caused by drawdown, which is a naturally occurring process that allows decompostion of bottom organic deposits, providing nutrients  for new vegetation (Weller 1986).
     The shallow marsh  is classified as ‘cash-grain' in the agricultural landuse data.  The marsh may be being used for watering cattle or irrigation.  In either instance the marsh may be susceptible to pollution from pesticides or herbicides used for crop production, which could induce increased sedimentation and eutrophication (i.e. oxygen depletion).   Options to preserve the habitat are through acquisition or mitigation with  landowners.  The marsh  might be preserved as a ‘set-aside' by the owners in exchange for tax reduction or some other financial incentive.
     The usefulnes of the GIS in this example  is the ability to identify critical habitat in relation to park habitats of similar type using aerial photography.   Weller (1986, p. 204) states that "Data need to be gathered and analyzed from this perspective because acquisition, protection, and management of marshes would  be strongly influenced by this information."

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