Developing an Oak Openings Biodiversity Model for Conservation Planning

(2011)  The goal of this project was to produce a document and associated digital data (principally GIS data layers) to provide the conservation community with a landscape-scale, scientifically-derived, spatially-explicit, and implementable model detailing the relative conservation value of acquisition and restoration efforts within the Oak Openings Region of the Western Lake Erie basin.

The project resulted in three models being developed:

1) Maximum Conservation Value: A multi-species habitat suitability model for the region.  Based on HSI values for nine nested target species, this model shows what areas are predicted to have the most conservation value under current conditions.

2) Restoration Potential: A model of the feasibility of habitat restoration for oak

savanna, upland prairie, and wet prairie.  Based on current and historic land-use/land-cover, soil types, and topographic position, this model predicts where restoration activities are most likely to be successful.

3) Restoration Value: A model of the value of restoring an area to oak savanna, upland prairie, or wet prairie.  "Value" was measured as the number of nested target species that would likely benefit from the restoration.  This was determined by systematically identifying areas in the habitat suitability models that would be suitable with the addition/restoration of habitat.

4) Restoration Potential and Value: Not a model itself, but a joining of the Restoration Potential and Restoration Value models.  Ranging from "low potential, low value" to "high potential, high value," this GIS layer is meant to help prioritize acquisition and restoration activities in the region, by identifying where these activities are predicted to be the most successful and have the greatest positive impact on the nested target species.

Want to view the results of this project?  You can download a Google Earth (.kml) file from the Oak Openings Green Ribbon Initiative website ("Oak Openings Region Model Available for Google Earth").

This project was sponsored by The Metroparks of the Toledo Area and the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Historic Land-cover in the Oak Openings Region
Savanna Restoration Potential and Value in the Oak Openings Region

Landscape-scale Habitat Suitability for the Karner Blue Butterfly in the Oak Openings Region