collaboration: Using GIS and mobile technology to plot whales by species and behavior

Recently I was invited by Jake Levenson and the folks over at to help analyze spatial and quantitative data for a project by entitled “Conservation in the Cloud: Leveraging mobile technology connecting tourism & resource managers.” The plots that I contributed use data from their application to reflect real time whale sightings in two embayments in Iceland, as well as recorded behaviors of these marine mammals. The technology and application is not my baby, so I won’t go into it other than to say it is an amazing high-tech solution and opportunity for citizen scientists to monitor local marine mammal populations, and that you can read more about their work here.

Instead, I wanted to showcase a few of the plots I made using Spotter App’s data, as it was also featured in Jake’s talk at the IMCC3 Conference in summer of 2014 (of which I am a co-author). The slides can be viewed on this website under the Conferences Header on the Homepage. Thanks to Jake and for inviting me onto the project. Now onto the whale plots.

This first plot was made in an effort to decide if we should create plots normalized by unit effort, but since effort (which I decided to quantify by hours at sea that their application recorded) was so tightly clustered, this didn’t really tell us much in the end.

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This is the same normalized data reflecting unit effort, but made in R and with a Lowess line to further demonstrate that this normalization would make more sense if trip lengths varied more. Thanks to Iain Dunning for helping me re-format some messy real time data.

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The following image is all of the whale sightings broken down by species in this one particular embayment in Northern Iceland.

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The next image is sightings broken down by species off the coast of Reykjavik:

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The next plot shows species, but with data points adjusted by percentage that species gets sighted across all trips.

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This plot shows the number of different whales sighted in a single trip:

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The following plots show all sightings, with the sightings that included calves in red (off the coast of iceland)

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These next few plots focus on sightings of particular behaviors, coded by color, but with data points sized according to frequency of that particular observed behavior:

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Again, if you liked what you saw here, go and check out!


Team Poster at Stanford’s annual NatCap Conference

This poster features values for carbon sequestration ecosystem services in the Hudson and the Delaware estuary systems. They are calculated under different intensities of dredging. The research is an ongoing part the NSF-Funded Coastal SEES work on dredging in the Hudson and Delaware, and its impacts on ecosystem services.




Using ArcGIS to model valuation of ecosystem services: aesthetics and cultural valuation techniques

Here I am using ArcGIS to economically value changes in coastal aesthetics to quantify changes in ecosystem service delivery. The context is near and off-shore development projects (wave energy facilities and fin fish aquaculture) off Vancouver Island.  This analysis was part of the Stanford Woods Inst. Natural Capital Project’s training session March 25-28 2014, for which I received a scholarship to take part.


In red is the area of interest for which we used a digital elevation map (DEM) to get to the frame of view in relation to the coast.  The blue points are future aquaculture sites or wave energy sites.



Pictured below is the same site, this time with the land in dark green, the marine protected areas and national parks in light green, and future near and offshore coastal development as blue points. I left the DEM filled in with the color ramp in grayscale to get a sense of what possible viewscape they were having us generate when we ran the model in InVEST, which created a valuation output. This valuation output took into account elevation of populated places, located within protected areas, and line of site to near and off shore development projects. I highlighted specific cited aquaculture sites in order to only model their inclusion into the changes in viewscape valuation.