Landscape Analysis Lab

Panthera scientists observing migration

Latest Development

Nicaragua Jaguar Corridor

Using Geographic Information Systems for Range-Wide Species Conservation Planning

This book chapter from Geographic Information Systems describes the use of spatial tools for developing range-wide conservation strategies. Through the identification and prioritization of core populations and corridors, we devised a spatial strategy for on-the-ground efforts that aims to maintain the integrity of a range-wide jaguar conservation network.

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From the Lab


Aerial of the Pantanal, BrazilPanthera's Landscape Analysis Lab uses spatial tools and data, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), maps and satellite imagery,  and spatial statistics to answer questions and solve problems for wild cat conservation. Visualizing and analyzing data within a spatial context allows us to look at the landscape at different scales and identify important patterns, whether it is habitat use by snow leopards in a single protected area or habitat connectivity for jaguars across their entire range. Analysis at the landscape scale also enables us to identify trends in human development, which help us predict future threats to key cat populations and corridors. Using all of this information, we gain a comprehensive picture of habitat availability across the entire range of a species — helping us to construct effective conservation plans and prioritize areas for conservation.

Panthera's Landscape Analysis Lab uses a variety of spatial information, from data on vegetation coverage and elevation, to road and livestock density, to sightings of cats and their prey. The advent of GPS collars helps us to gather much more detailed information on the whereabouts of individual cats and enables us to perform more accurate analyses regarding habitat use. Sometimes, the spatial data we need is not readily available at the desired level of detail, or does not reflect the most current conditions. In those cases, we use recent satellite imagery and GPS technology to identify habitat types and configuration, and roads and settlements.

The Landscape Analysis Lab supports all of Panthera's species programs by mapping and displaying data of interest, providing metrics for the size of protected areas, cat population characteristics, environmental change, and performing analyses to further our research and conservation goals.

Current Projects

The Jaguar Corridor InitiativePanthera scientists observing migration

We have created a field-based protocol to assess jaguar corridors on the ground and collect information on jaguar and prey presence. This allows us to determine which areas are better connections for jaguars and their prey and has the added benefit of providing a baseline against which our conservation activities can be measured. Learn about Panthera's Jaguar Corridor Initiative.

Leopard Nose-Pigmentation Project

Panthera's Leopard Nose-Pigmentation ProjectIt has been shown that noses of some species of wild cats get darker and mottled as they age. The amount of pigmentation in the nose has been used to predict ages of lions in the Serengeti plains. We are working to develop a similar model to age leopards based on how much pigment they have on their noses. Panthera's Leopard Nose-Pigmentation ProjectOur results have direct implications for regulating the trophy hunting industry in Africa, and for promoting sustainable hunting of wild leopard populations. Determining the age of leopards ensures that only animals beyond a certain age, those that have already contributed to the growth and genetic health of a population, are hunted. For more information about our leopard work visit the Munyawana Leopard Project page.

Lion corridors

We are in the process of identifying corridors for lions based on their use of habitat outside of protected areas. For more information on our lion program, see Project Leonardo.

Tiger populations

We are analyzing satellite imagery to determine human settlement patterns and trends in habitat change for the Sumatran tiger. For more information on our tiger work see Tigers Forever.

Our supporters and collaborators

Panthera's Landscape Analysis Lab is grateful to our donors for their generous contributions. Software donations from the Environmental Conservation Program at Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) make the existence of our lab possible and satellite imagery donations from NASA's SERVIR and CATHALAC have been instrumental in furthering the Jaguar Corridor Initiative. We also have productive collaborative relationships with the Rocky Mountain Research Station and Oxford's WildCRU.