Emma Cook

Document Type

Presentation (Class or campus)

Scholarship Type

Student Scholarship

Presentation Date


Event Name and Location of Presentation

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Student Poster Session

Instructor(s) or Advisor(s)

Mike Winiski; John Quinn


In rapidly urbanizing areas, such as Greenville County in Upstate South Carolina, it is important to study habitat use and quality across land cover types in order to maximize conservation. Habitat fragmentation is a threat to many species of birds in areas with increasing development, especially those species that utilize larger forest patches for nesting and foraging. While land cover type and patch size are extremely important factors in determining habitat quality for birds, recent research has shown that the matrix of surrounding landscape proves to be very important as well. The landscape matrix, sometimes called landscape mosaic, considers the land cover characteristics of neighboring areas and interactions between land cover types. Birds are a good study species because they inhabit a wide range of land covers and have wide ranges of tolerance to disturbances; therefore they are a good indicator species of habitat quality for other species as well. The goal of this study was to assess habitat quality and develop a predictive species distribution model to predict occupancy for selected bird species and overall species richness based on the land cover matrix. The study species include the Eastern Kingbird and the Eastern Towhee. Species distribution models are useful in conservation planning because they can be used to designate protected areas and inform conservation efforts to adequately protect species. Data on habitat use on a small college campus in upstate South Carolina may also be able to inform habitat use in larger scale urban residential areas. Furman University is ranked among the most sustainable universities in the nation. Biodiversity and conservation are pillars of sustainability. Information on habitat qualities on campus and predictive distribution maps could help Furman improve conservation planning.

Additional Affiliated Department, Center or Institute

Biology, Center for Teaching and Learning



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