Habitat Suitability Analysis of the Aishihik Wood Bison Herd in Yukon, Canada
A weighted suitability analysis was conducted to identify the favorable and unfavorable areas throughout the Aishihik wood bison herd's range. The weighted model considered two major influences; environmental/physical and human activities.
A literature review of wood bison habitats identified 5 environmental/physical factors and 3 human factors to be of greatest importance:
Distance to water
Degree of slope
Forest fire history
Natural resource activity
The environmental data consisted of a landcover and fire history shapefile as well as a DEM used for slope and aspect calculations. These 5 factors were classified into suitability on scale of 1 - 5 and used to create the habitat suitability map as shown on the top left image.
The human data consisted of road vector file, settlement polygons and a natural resource activity point file which included mining, drill holes, gravel pits, wind energy, and hydro energy sites. Each variable was buffered and classified to create the habitat suitability map as shown on the image in the top right.
A weighted suitability analysis combined both influences to identify the favorable and unfavorable areas throughout the herd range. As shown in map to the left; red areas represent low habitat suitability, whereas, green areas represent areas of high habitat suitability.