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Wildlife and Upland Conservation

This program, headquartered in Tallahassee with staff in Gainesville, focuses on upland and freshwater habitats and species.  Staff produce GIS data of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and conduct landscape-scale biogeographic modeling of fish and wildlife distributions and their habitats. Their work helps identify lands and waters that are priorities for biodiversity conservation and protection. A major initiative is the development of the statewide land cover map that is to be used as the primary base layer from which to develop species range maps. The Gainesville office provides technical support to wildlife biologists in the lab. In recent years, the program has taken a leadership role with Climate Change.

Impacts of Climate Change on Fish and Wildlife

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is Florida's lead state agency in addressing the impacts of climate change on fish and wildlife.  In 2008, FWC instituted the Climate Change Special Initiative to facilitate research, planning and management necessary to understand and respond to the threat of a changing climate.  

Climate Adaptation Explorer

The Climate Adaptation Explorer provides a starting point from which to address the predicted impacts of climate change on Florida’s fish, wildlife, and ecosystems.

It is intended to serve as a resource in understanding potential impacts and to help in the development of adaptation strategies that could be implemented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other natural resource management agencies and groups. The goal is that this “guide” will provide the tools for better integration of adaptation actions and tasks into broader policies and programs, serving as a toolkit to help natural resource managers and others understand and address the current and future impacts of climate change on Florida’s ecosystems.

screenshot from a page of the Conservation Planning Atlas website

The Landscape Conservation Project is working to create a unified vision for Florida’s conservation efforts with measurable goals. Although the idea of common priorities across conservation organizations has been around for a while, the aim is to move this idea from discussion to implementation by leveraging the wealth of information available in the state to create a shared vision, or Conservation Blueprint, for the future of natural resources in Florida.

The goal is to streamline decision making processes by building a system of prioritized conservation resources that all stakeholders will have access to through the Florida Conservation Planning Atlas. Conservation progress will be tracked through regularly updated conservation asset report cards that reflect mutually agreed upon targets.

For more information about the project, visit the Florida Conservation Planning Atlas.

map of Florida with shades of yellow and green spread throughout

The Florida Cooperative Land Cover Map (CLC) is a partnership between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) to develop ecologically-based statewide land cover from existing sources and expert review of aerial photography. 

Explore the CLC map and learn more about the CLC Project.

To support landscape-level conservation, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) developed models defining the potential habitat of terrestrial and freshwater species. Depending on expert input and available data, models were produced either within the extent of the species historic range (fundamental niche) or within the extent of known species locations (realized niche). Potential habitat model types include relatively simple binary models (areas of habitat or non-habitat) based on life history information, and predictive models (continuous-scale likelihood of habitat) that use algorithms (e.g., maximum entropy, resource selection function, fuzzy logic, etc.) that associate species presence data with environmental variables. Models do not provide a perfect representation of species distributions but can offer insights into habitat availability especially in areas that lack species occurrence information or that cannot be easily sampled.

The Florida Fire dataset is a comprehensive, spatially explicit map of wild and prescribed fire occurrences across the state. This dataset was developed by Tall Timbers Research Station for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and relies on USGS Burned Area products which combines change detection algorithms, spectral indices, and reference areas with LANDSAT Imagery. Explore maps and data for the Florida Fire dataset project.

Detecting Isolated Wetlands in the Blackwater River State Forest: A predictive algorithm (maximum entropy using a program called Maxent) was applied to environmental variables derived from multispectral remotely sensed data and GIS data to approach the problem of detecting wetland areas absent from the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) layer in the watershed that contains the bulk of the Blackwater River State Forest.

Integrated Wildlife Habitat Ranking System (IWHRS) ranks the Florida landscape based upon the habitat needs of wildlife as a way to identify ecologically significant lands in the state.

2003 Florida Vegetation and Land Cover: An update to the 1985-89 project to map Florida vegetation and land cover using 2003 Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite imagery.

Wildlife Habitat Conservation Needs in Florida: Updated Recommendations for Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas: The results of this project have re-identified Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for a new selection of focal species, including many species that were in the original 1994 report.

Mapping Florida's Altered Landscapes: This project mapped areas of Florida identified as "disturbed" or "non-natural" in order to enhance our understanding of the distribution of these land cover types in Florida.