Select geomorphological components of wildlife habitat in the ridge and valley province of Virginia
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I examined geomorphology as it relates to wildlife and wildlife habitat I sought to make dimensions of land surface shape (terrain) available for use by natural resource professionals.
Most geomorphic processes operate on longer time scales than the life spans of organisms that inhabit a landscape. So, it is the shape of the land surface, not formative processes that are considered in most environmental sciences.
Terrain molds and is molded by climate, vegetation, and geology. Terrain influences site-specific temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, and winds. Through these climatic effects, terrain influences the distribution of plant species and plant phenologies.
I examined the role of terrain in applied environmental sciences including forestry, soil science, hydrology, and fisheries. Terrain also affects the distribution, movements, energetics, cover, and food habits of wildlife species.
I identified 8 parameters of land surface shape: elevation, slope, aspect, relief, length, area, roughness and texture, pattern and shape. From physical science literature, I identified over 120 descriptors of surface shape that measure 1 or more of these parameters. Through an objective-weighting procedure, I selected 60 descriptors to include in a computer-based system for quantifying land surface shape.
The resulting system, GEODES, integrates a raster-based GIS, vector mapping programs, and a relational data base management system to present these land surface shape descriptors. Specific applications of individual descriptors and of GEODES are suggested. Individual descriptors or the larger system (GEODES) may be used to reduce variance in wildlife research and management, and to increase managerial control.
- Masters Theses