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Spatial model for habitats conservation

Koichi Hirata, Hiroshi Murakami*
FSystems Engineering Division, PASCO Corporation
Higashiyama 1-1-2, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: (81)-3-3715-1530, Fax: 9810-3-3715-1470
E-mail: [email protected]

*Planning Department, Geographic Survey Institute
1-Kitasato, Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Pref., Japan
Tel: (81)-298-64-6938, Fax: (81)-298-64-1659
E-mail: [email protected]

It is the general tendency of the wild animals to own their territory temporarily in a specific area for breeding. The authors conducted the habitat analysis for protecting the Japanese Red Crane species utilizing remote sensing and GIS in Kushiro Wetland located in Eastern Hokkaido. The present study was based on the concept of Landscape Ecology on temporal and hierarchical spatial scales.

The main problem in preserving the Global Environment is to protect the rare animal and plant species in relation to the biodiversity and at the same time its consideration with the human-living environment. The identification of wildlife animals’ habitat is necessary in order to protect them and the possible extension of habitat area is needed. It is necessary to control artificial development activities otherwise the rare species will become extinct. The population growth increase of the rare species is essential since the possible extinction is related to the sudden changes of the natural environment.

Objectives of Landscape Ecological Analysis
The Cranes gather in spring (around March) and lay eggs and start raising chicks. In the autumn they occupy a specific area as ‘home range ‘ with their chicks and defend from the predators such as minks and foxes. From autumn to winter they stay near to the unfrozen rivers. They move in groups and try to approach near the artificial place for the food. Once grown-up, they can escape by running and flying for their protection against enemies. Therefore, the selection of the nesting site is important for the survival of the cranes. Certain factors are outlined for the nesting site: topological information and distance from the river and artificial place. The remote sensing and ruled-based Geographic Information System (GIS) were adopted for habitat (nesting site) analysis of the red crowned Cranes in Kushiro Wetland, Hokkaido. The conditions analyzed for the nesting sites were: 400m away from the residential houses, 360m away from the roads as unfavorable conditions for artificial structures. A distance of 260m, was selected from the water system as a favorable condition for nesting and the ‘ home range’ was selected as 660m of radius. The Cranes’ habitat near the people’s residential areas was also observed. The cranes’ possible behavior for their habitat, if the environment of the wetland changes, was also considered on the spatial scale.

Study Area and Available data Sets
The study area for the cranes’ habitat analysis is shown in Figure 1. It is located in plains of Eastern shore of Hokkaido, Japan.

Figure 1. Study area showing the Kushiro Wetlands National Park in Hokkaido

The data used for the analysis are as following:

    • Wetland-water system data,
    • road data,
    • housing data,
    • contour line data,
  1. Topological data
    (digitized from 1/25,000 base map)
  2. Natural Environmental data
    (1/50,000 from LANDSAT MSS)
    • Vegetation
  3. Socio-Developmental Regulation data
    (digitized from 1/50,000)
    • Census data-
    • National Park Developmental
    • Regulation data
  4. Crane Nesting Site data
    (digitized from 1/200,000)
    • 1990,1991,1992,1993,1994

Natural Environmental Change vs. Spatial Scale
The analysis of the nesting site was conducted by ERDAS (ERDAS INC.) for LANDSAT data, and Overlay, Buffering were the mainly done by ARC/INFO (Environmental Systems Research Institute INC.) for the spatial analysis. Table 1 indicates the comparison on spatial scale with nesting site in 5 years. In 1992, as a special case, since nesting site were submerged due to heavy rainfall, the number of observation were less, and size of ‘home Rnge ‘ was 90% of nesting sites corresponding to 1.32km of 1994 which is the half of the distance in 1990. Table 2 shows the factors affecting the nesting sites for different years. The variation between nesting sites and vegetation community distribution was also observed. It was found that with the changes in the nesting sites, however, vegetation community distribution ratio did not show much variation. In other words, the vegetation community distribution ratio is one of the important factors for nesting site.

Table 1. Crane’s spatial scale changes
Year Nearest distance(m) 90% distance(m) Number of nesting site
1990 380 2.703 19
1991 518 2.254 18
1992 740 3.364 8
1993 309 2.058 40
1994 330 1.320 39
Table 2. Affecting factor’s vs. distance
Year Distance from water (m) Distance from road (m) Distance from house (m)
1990 265 223 444
1991 261 331 546
1992 145 381 906
1993 384 173 298
1994 265 104 364

Socio Environmental Change vs. Spatial Scale
Though relationship of the population density and nesting sites were analyzed, the reason of the change was not originally understood in the wetland. Figure 2 shows the comparison for a change of nesting sites with development regulation of the national park. According to this the regional increasing tendency where the development regulation is relaxed was clear. The nesting sites tented to spread on the area of relaxed development regulation.

Figure 2. Calculation result for the development regulation and nesting site.

As a Favorable or Unfavorable Condition for Site Selection vs. Spatial scale
The topological conditions play a great role for the nesting site selection. The distance of roads, water systems and residential areas from the nesting site are the crucial factors (Table 2). Table 3 and Figure 3 indicates the factors, size of nesting, range, and nesting numbers which were resulted by performing correlation analysis.

Table 3. Analysis of nesting site and affecting factors (correlation factor variation)
  Nestingsite(no) Territory radius(m) Distance fromwater(m) Distance fromroad (m) Distance fromhouses (m)
Territory radius(m) -0.875        
Distance fromwater (m) 0.808 -0.608      
Distance fromroad (m) -0.913 0.836 0.659    
Distance fromhouses (m) -0.875 0.808 -0.902 0.869  

The following were highlighted in relation to the nesting site:

  • When nesting site increases, home range becomes small
  • When nesting site increased, there was no site near-water system, i.e., distance from the water system is away and sites were less,
  • Distance from the road, housing nearer place was selected.

Figure 3. Correlation analysis between number of nesting site and affecting factors .

Potential Nesting Site
A rule to select the nesting site of cranes was extracted using GIS,and potential nesting sites were observed in Kushiro Wetland as shown in Figure 4.

The selection rule was applied for calculation from the nesting condition of 1994. Accordingly, though 1994 could observe 39 sites of nesting in Kushiro Wetland, it became clear that for points had same conditions of 1994.

Figure 4. Potential Nesting Site Distribution (1994)

Landscape Ecological Study was conducted by applying rule-based GIS for conserving the habitat environment of cranes which is a natural monument of the country. The Cranes attempt to the change their nesting sites according to the temporal environmental changes. The accuracy of the maps depicting natural environmental analysis is of prime importance. The satellites’ data have the limitations in the bad weather conditions and affect the map accuracy. In the future analysis the knowledge of ecological specialist for the endangered wildlife animals and effective GIS analysis will be utilized for conservation of the habitats.

The authors express their sincere thanks to Dr. (Prof) Masatomi of the Senshuu University, Hokkaido for providing he data and valuable advises for the analysis.Thanks are extended to Mr. Sato Kei,Pasco Corporation for doing the analysis, also to Mr. Onotsuka, Mr. Maeshima and Ms. Ando of Geographic Survey Institute for their kind supports.



  • K.Hirata and H.H, Murakami (1996), A Research for Potential Nesting site Selection and Environmental Change Analysis using GIS, JSPRS Proceedings (Japanese)
  • K.Hirata and H.H, Murakami (1995~1998), Habitats Conservation and Environmental Evaluation using GIS (1), (2), (3), (4), JSPRS Proceedings (Japanese)
  • H. Murakami, K. Hirata (1996), Potential Nesting Site Analysis of Red-Crowned Cranes using GIS, XV III ISPRS Commission IV.
  • H. Murakami, K.Hirata (1997), Potential Nesting Site Analysis of Red-Crowned Cranes in Kushiro Wetland using GIS,Theory and Application of GIS, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 59-64