Gap Analysis: An Application of Geographic Information Systems for Wildlife Species 1
The threat of mass extinctions as a consequence of global warming joins a growing list of assaults on planetary biodiversity. The intensive collecting carried out by the Bureau of Biological Survey in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries forms much of the basis for our current understanding of plant and animal distribution. Existing descriptions of habitat relationships were used to predict the presence or absence of native terrestrial vertebrates in vegetation cover type. The greatest challenge facing wildlife management agencies today is recognition of the need for long-range planning for nongame wildlife species and the community and ecosystem diversity represented in their habitats. The opportunity to maintain national biodiversity through changes in management prescriptions on public lands exists primarily in the west. Through cooperation with private land owners and conservation groups, a set of Biodiversity management areas, coupled with selected endangered species reserves, could stem future extinctions in the region and serve as a model for international planning.