About this Dashboard
This dashboard presents the Simpson’s Index of Diversity value for amphibians, birds, mammals, or reptiles on Native Land areas in the contiguous US. This provides a rough estimate of biodiversity on native lands.
About the Data
This data comes from the enriched Species Habitat Richness 2008-2016 from USGS, which identifies the species richness for 43 species of amphibians, 163 species of birds, 72 species of mammals and 54 species of reptiles. This dataset is itself based off the GAP Analysis Project from USGS, which estimates the spatial distribution of suitable environmental and land cover conditions within the United States for individual species from 2001 CONUS land conditions.
GAP habitat maps are predictions of the spatial distribution of suitable environmental and land cover conditions within the United States for individual species. Mapped habitat distribution areas represent places where the environment is suitable for the species to occur (i.e. suitable to support one or more life history requirements for breeding, resting, or foraging), while areas not included in the map are those predicted to be unsuitable for the species. While the actual distributions of many species are likely to be habitat limited, suitable habitat will not always be occupied because of population dynamics and species interactions. Furthermore, these maps correspond to midscale characterizations of landscapes, but individual animals may deem areas to be unsuitable because of presence or absence of fine-scale features and characteristics that are not represented in our models (e.g. snags, vernal pools, shrubby undergrowth).
The Simpson’s Index of Diversity is calculated as D = n(n-1)/N(N-1) where n is the number of individuals of one species and N is the total number of all individuals. Here the diversity index was subtracted from one (1-D) so that a higher value corresponds to greater sample diversity. The index represents the probability that two individuals randomly selected from a sample will belong to different species.
Why is this Data and Dashboard Important?
Protecting land and biodiversity is a global interest now and tribal nations have been stewarding this land for thousands of years prior to White settlers starting to care about urgent issues such as species extinction or climate change. However, tribes have been historically excluded from land decision-making at the local, national and international-level. While cultural knowledge is still passed down inter-generationally, the world we live in now also requires a lot of information and specific data about land, biodiversity and natural resource management for tribes to fully assert their land rights and sovereignty claims. Such data is sensitive on tribal lands and ideally should be collected, analyzed and owned by tribes. However, the use of modern digital tools such as satellite imagery already provides information about global land coverage to the institutions who can access it. At the end of the day, whereas data such as satellite imagery is widely publicly available, the people who have the least access to this data about their own land areas are native people. Dashboards such as this one seek to address this inequality by providing native people with easy access to the publicly-available information that concerns them, while also actively supporting tribal conservation and land management efforts and planning.
The Species Habitat Richness is an interesting dataset, but it relies on estimates from the 2001 CONUS, which limits its ability to be used for current land planning. However, it can provide a good baseline for tribes to measure up conservation and land management efforts since that time till now. We will be looking forward to the next USGS release of this data to provide you with a means of comparison.