State Reports - North Carolina
The current focus of the North Carolina Gap Analysis Project (NC-GAP) is the development of the land cover map. We are nesting our map into the land cover classification being done by the Multi-Resolution Land Characterization Consortium (MRLC). We are using the nonvegetated classes from the MRLC classification as a masking tool and processing only those areas identified as natural vegetation. We have spent the past year gathering ancillary data, testing methodologies, and applying those methods to the classification of vegetation in the Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Flatwoods of North Carolina.
Based on past experiences, we knew field data would be a limiting factor to mapping vegetation at the alliance level. Our solution was to gather aerial videography data for areas known to be dominated by natural vegetation, use plant community data available from the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, and get field ecologists into the computer lab to help develop an extensive point database of vegetation types. These points are then used to determine the correspondence between the alliances and the combinations of clustered Landsat TM imagery and ancillary data sets (i.e., National Wetlands Inventory and Natural Resources Conservation Servicess Detailed County Soil Maps). We are in the process of summarizing the results of the preliminary mapping efforts following the National Vegetation Classification System. We will also be reviewing their potential for use in ongoing conservation planning in the region.
In addition to vegetation mapping, we have been developing cooperative relationships with agencies within the state as well as with neighboring GAP projects. Two of our cooperators, the North Carolina Heritage Program and the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, are currently involved in a study titled "A Model Biodiversity Analysis for Southeastern North Carolina." Essentially, this is a mini-gap analysis. The vegetation data layer we are developing will be an important contribution to this effort. We are in the process of developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, which serves as the state clearing-house for geospatial data. A joint MOU between NC-GAP, The Natural Heritage Program, and the North Carolina Wildlife Commission is also under way.
This year we will continue interpretation of videography and image processing for the northern coastal plain as well as the piedmont of North Carolina. The mountains will be the focus for the 1998 field season. Vertebrate species range mapping and habitat modeling will begin in the southern coastal plain.