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Virginia’s Statewide Aquatic Gap Analysis Project. A Species-Habitat Affinity Database. Shelly Miller Kevin Gooss Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries Wildlife Diversity Division. Some background on our efforts…. Established team of regional experts representing

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Virginia’s Statewide Aquatic Gap Analysis Project

A Species-Habitat Affinity Database

Shelly Miller

Kevin Gooss

Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries

Wildlife Diversity Division


Some background on our efforts…

Established team of regional experts representing

Virginia Tech (Fish and Wildlife and Biology dept.)

Virginia Commonwealth University


VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DNH)

Conservation Management Institute (VA Tech)

Developed preliminary work plan

  • Began analysis with development of Ecological Drainage Units
  • Represent one level of the hierarchical classification scheme
  • Basically is a combination of physiography and drainage
  • 31 identified in Virginia

Gathered comments from team on EDU delineation and posed the following question:

What are the primary landscape-scale variables influencing the distribution of species in stream habitats?

Stream size



Hydrology/permanence of flow





Data gathering for reach classification

National Hydrography Dataset (NHD): USGS, flow validated (1:100,000)

National Elevation Dataset (NED): USGS (30 m raster)

Geology and generalized lithology: USGS (1:500,000)

Smaller hydrologic units: VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

500 for the state

Biological data: VDGIF Collections database (point locations)

DRGs of USGS 7.5’ topographic maps


Upper Tennessee River watershed and beyond

Concurrent multi-state project just underway at CMI/VA Tech


NHD processing

Holston, Clinch/Powell, Rappahannock, James

Habitat attribution of Holston

Unique identifier**





Mean elevation

Cool/Coldwater designation

Waterbody identification**


NHD processing and attribution

Software: ArcInfo and ArcMap (ArcGIS 8.0)

using tools developed by MoRAP, USFS and TNC staff

Time: 2-3 days per watershed


Arc Coverage of stream segments with many attributes

Next steps:

Categorization and typing of reaches

Addition of species information


Species-Habitat Affinity Database

ArcGIS- and MSAccess-based process and products

Timely application

VDGIF Online database re-engineering

Migrating data from AREV to MS Access platform

Products of aquatic GAP efforts will inform re-engineering


Habitat preference and location data currently housed in AREV database have been imported into Access

Identified challenges, table relationships, etc.


Structure of Species-Habitat Affinity database

1) Stream reaches

Linked by segment id number

2) Species collections

Linked by species id number

3) Species-habitat data from literature


Holston data summary (VA only)

~1300 collection records with over 14,000 individual species records


108 fish species

37 aquatic mollusk species

19 are federal and/or state listed


Need to attribute species collections data with unique segment id

Spatial join of point data to reaches

Resulting file contains attributes of both datasets and a distance measurement

Data were reviewed using information in original records and DRG topos.

Point greater than 10 m from stream reach

Points near confluences


To the Access database

Import species collections data with segment id and species id

Import stream reach data with segment id

Import environmental and taxonomic data from existing database with species id

Create joins and relationships between these tables.

Begin to examine patterns, identify outliers, etc.


Aaahhh, what a tangled web we weave…

Species collection data

Stream reach data

Literature data


Identify and fill in gaps in habitat data from the literature

~100 species have no environmental association data in existing database

Now what…short range next steps

Continue NHD processing and attribution for entire state

Coordinate with neighboring states to share data and create more biologically meaningful products

Create simple data entry forms

Create watershed-scale species distribution maps and gather expert review

Determine and apply categories of continuous variables

Size, connectivity, gradient

Gather input from team (how many categories, regionalization, etc.)

Examine patterns using database and GIS

Determine “types”, concatenation of existing variables

e.g., small, high gradient, coldwater stream connected to medium-sized stream


Time frame for completion of statewide project- 2005

State Wildlife Grants Program (i.e., CARA-lite)

Requires completion of a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan by Fall 2005

Products of gap analysis projects fit well as a part of these comprehensive plans

These grants can be used to fund the on-the-ground projects suggested by gap analysis.


Thanks to:

Virginia Aquatic Gap Team

in particular, Paul Angermeier, Dick Neves, and Greg Garman

Scott Sowa, Gust Annis, and Michael Morey, MoRAP

Bruce Johnson, USGS

Dave Hatfield, USFS

Tom Fitzhugh, TNC

Blair Jones, CMI

Kevin Gooss, VDGIF, co-author