Ashley Smithers - GIS Professional
Ashley Smithers

Ashley Smithers

Ecologist & GIS Specialist
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Turtle Habitat Suitability Model

Pudding River Watershed Council, Clackamas SWCD, PCC Analysis class & Remote Sensing
Software Used
ESRI ArcMap v10.5, Sketch
Tools & Skills
Weighted Overlay, Reclassification, Zonal Statistics, Mosaic (Data Management), Mosaic to New Raster, Sink Tool, Flow Accumulation, Flow Direction, Resample, Fill, Buffer, Feature to Raster, Slope

Project Description

Where is suitable habitat for turtles in the Pudding River Watershed?

Hypothesis: The addition of the DEM- sink layer to the model will identify additional waterbodies and therefore landowners with suitable turtle habitat. The new model will be more accurate and align well with the ODFW identified pond turtle habitat while adding additional spots of interest.

The Oregon Conservation Strategy as well as ODFW’s Guidance for Conserving Oregon’s Native Turtles include Best Management Practices (Turtle BMPs) identify habitat loss particularly of nesting and aquatic habitats as one of the main limiting factors for turtles. Available known habitat for the Western pond and Western painted turtles has decreased in the Willamette Valley. Both species are state listed in the Oregon Conservation Strategy as sensitive species. As a sensitive species, the population is facing one or more threats to its population and/or habitats according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Additionally, the pond turtle is federally listed as a species of concern and currently under review for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing.

Turtle habitat on most of the public lands in the watershed has been identified and surveyed for turtles, however much of the watershed is private land. This project aims to identify potential habitat throughout the watershed, identify private landowners, and assess the accuracy compared to other models that identified habitat.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) identified some habitat areas for the Western pond turtle as part of the OCS. Additionally, I created an initial suitability model using model builder which will be used to compare with this next model for accuracy assessment. In the initial model several water areas were not identified. The hydrology layers didn’t include all bodies of water, many which have turtle habitat. This project hopes to identify those waterbodies using high resolution DEM and sink tool to identify areas where water is pooling.

Current location 45.5122° N, 122.6587° W