Environmental Applications for GIS

biol/envst/geog 362 - Great Lakes - Summer Session II


Theory and application of spatial analysis for applied social and ecological problem-solving. This course combines GPS field data collection; ArcGIS use for storage, processing, interpretation, and presentation of data; location and integration of existing source information; and remote sensing integration with GIS applications. The course is designed around an environmental project to apply GIS techniques for real-world problem-solving in protecting and restoring ecosystems. (4 credits)

Field, Applied, Interdisciplinary

Professor: Dr. Mark Gathany

Meets: Tuesday & Thursday


knowledge gained

Examination of foundational principles of geography and cartography

An understanding of how to collect a spatially balanced sample

A working knowledge of spatial statistics

Experience working with remote sensed imagery and their processing

A better understanding of landscape ecology and associated issues in conservation and environmental planning. 


skills developed

Data Collection:

Use of recreational (Garmin) and professional (Trimble) GPS units

Field collection of spatial features (e.g. trees) and their attributes (e.g. species) using GPS

Experience with Trimble’s TerraSync and GPS Pathfinder Office and/or Esri’s ArcPad software for field data collection

Integrating GPS and GIS to generate new data layers

Searching, accessing, downloading and displaying web-based data

Data manipulation & analysis:

A working knowledge of Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop software

ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcToolbox, Spatial Analyst & 3D Analyst

Exploration of open source GIS packages such as QGIS or GRASS

GoogleEarth Standard and Pro for visualization and accessing real-time data updates

Creating and editing features in the digital environment

Working with remotely sensed imagery for analysis or visualization purposes

Investigation of habitat loss, fragmentation, and isolation with FragStats/PatchAnalyst

Project and data management:

Proceed through all of the stages of a project from conception to presentation

Produce a portfolio to exhibit your newly developed skillset


field experience

Creating a trail map using a common (recreational grade) GPS unit

Developing and implementing a strategy for complex data collection in the field

Remote sensing “ground truthing”

Tentative plans for some or all of the following:

wetland delineation (soils, hydrology, and vegetation)

vegetation mapping

habitat suitability

fire severity mapping

Time for individual-based projects