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Spatial Modeling of the Fragmentation of Local Species Habitat from Increasing Urbanization in North Alabama

Alabama is one of the four most biodiverse states in the United States, and has greatest diversity of aquatic species of any state in the U.S. This biodiversity is at risk as urbanization increases in Alabama. The Land Trust of North Alabama works to preserve green space and encourages stewardship through environmental education. The North Alabama Ecological Forecasting team partnered with the Land Trust of North Alabama to identify areas critical to maintaining local species habitat within Madison and Limestone counties. As urbanization increases within these counties, essential habitats are threatened. To identify where land cover changes are occurring and areas are most vulnerable to urbanization, the North Alabama Ecological Forecasting team conducted a supervised classification of land class types utilizing data from Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM), Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Version 4 (SRTM). The team then used the classification along with other parameters to produce an Urbanization Model Algorithm, Urbanization Prediction Tool, and a Landscape Fragmentation Map. These tools will enable the Land Trust of North Alabama to target land for acquisition and subsequent preservation and stewardship.