GIS Seminar @ ISU - Spring 2024



The seminar starts promptly at 12:00 p.m. and ends at 12:50 p.m. 

The GIS Seminar @ ISU is open to the public. 

If you are interested in attending, the location is Design 362.

If you have any questions, please Monica Haddad ( 


February 05, 2024 12:00 p.m. (online)

Identifying potential locations for water quality wetland installation using GIS modeling

Annina Rupe, Ducks Unlimited, Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, Geospatial Analyst 

ABSTRACT: Iowa’s water quality has suffered due in part to the intense agriculture performed across the state. Wetlands naturally filter water which helps remove excess nutrients, but a majority of Iowa’s historic wetlands have been drained. Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) have partnered to identify where wetlands, specifically those aimed at improving water quality, would be best placed and to work with landowners to install these wetlands. This presentation delves into how GIS is used to simplify and speed up this process for the benefit of a software project that converts elevation raster data (DEM) into files for 3D printing terrain (STL). 

February 12, 2024 12:00 p.m. 

Retirements and Aging Infrastructure: Using GIS to Improve Knowledge

Pete Buckingham, Business Development Manager, SAM (Surveying and Mapping, LLC)
ABSTRACT:  The loss of institutional knowledge due to retirements and aging infrastructure make accurate GIS mapping of infrastructure a necessity. SAM works with public agencies to accurate maps and collect attribute data for municipal utilities including water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, electric and gas distribution and more.  Utilizing GPS and GIS technology, our skilled staff work with public agencies to improve data access and knowledge of the utility infrastructure for current and future decision makers.

February 19, 2024 12:0 p.m.

Land Valuation and Location

BJ Covington, GIS Coordinator, Polk County Assessor

ABSTRACT:  In this presentation, BJ will demonstrate how the GIS technology is utilized by our Residential Appraisal staff to identify areas of change and assign values to them based on market factors.

March 18, 2024 12:00 p.m. 

Utilizing LiDAR Data to Extract 3D Models of Trees for Urban Microclimate Analysis

Sedigheh Ghiasi, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, GIS Certificate Candidate

Advisor: Dr. Janette R Thompson and Co-advisor: Prof Ulrike Passe

ABSTRACT:  The urban environment is a complex web of interconnected systems where even small changes can significantly impact energy use and environmental conditions. Trees are one of the elements that can substantially regulate the surrounding microclimate. Variations in tree coverage can define different microclimates on a neighborhood scale. The lack of available datasets detailing the geometric information of trees limits studies to assess trees' role in shaping microclimates. To overcome this limitation, we propose using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology, a powerful tool capable of capturing detailed geometric information in the form of point clouds. By employing LiDAR to create accurate 3D models of trees, we anticipate gaining a deeper understanding of their spatial distribution and structural characteristics. This information will enable us to estimate the shadow effect more precisely, contributing to a more accurate assessment of the microclimate in urban neighborhoods.

March 25, 2024 12:00 p.m. 

A comprehensive study on soybean yield prediction using arial hyperspectral reflectance data  

Joscif G Raigne, Agronomy, GIS Certificate Candidate.
Advisor: Asheesh K. Singh 

ABSTRACT: This study tackles the challenges of soybean yield prediction through the comparison of ground, drone, and satellite spectral data, aiming to identify the most efficient method for large-scale plant breeding programs. The central objective was to determine which source of spectral data most accurately predicts yield, thus minimizing the need for time-consuming ground data collection across extensive plots. Employing GIS technology, we analyzed multispectral data from the soybean canopy to assess plant health and yield potential through spectral indices. Our approach utilized ML models to interpret hyperspectral reflectance data. The findings indicate that while ground data provides high precision, its acquisition is impractical for large breeding trials due to the sheer number and size of the plots. In contrast, drone and satellite data emerged as promising alternatives, offering a balance of accuracy and efficiency. This study concludes that these aerial and space-borne platforms can sufficiently predict yields, thereby facilitating the comparison and ranking of soybean lines in advanced yield trials and enhancing breeding program efficiency.

April 1, 2024 12:00 p.m. 

Evaluating landscape level habitat characteristics on occupancy of rare and endangered bumble bees 

Kelsey Shepherd, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, GIS Certificate Candidate 
Advisor: Dr. Anna Tucker

ABSTRACT:  The rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) is a federally endangered species that was once widespread across the Upper Midwest. Though the B. affinis is the only species in this region currently protected under the Endangered Species Act, many other bumble bee species have been documented to be in decline, including the American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus). This project uses surveys of sites throughout Iowa, as well as ArcGIS Pro, to understand how landscape habitat characteristics influence occupancy of rusty patched and American bumble bees. We searched 100-m radius areas, chosen by foraging habitat, at 57 unique sites between 2022-2023. We detected B. pensylvanicus at 64% of sites and B. affinis at 20% of sites.. Preliminary results show that proximity to forested areas has a significant positive relationship with B. affinis occupancy, and proximity to open spaces, such as grassland and agriculture areas, has a positive relationship with B. pensylvanicus occupancy.    

April 8, 2024 12:00 p.m.

Evaluating the influence of ecological and environmental factors on Dunlin movements on the breeding grounds in Northern Alaska

       Aaron Yappert, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, GIS Certificate Candidate 
       Advisor: Dr. Anna Tucker, Dr. Stephen J. Dinsmore

ABSTRACT:  Arctic breeding shorebirds face a multitude of threats, many of which are driven or exacerbated by

 climate change or human development. Trophic mismatches may lead to reduced resources for newly hatched chicks, irregular spring snow melt can alter the timing of nesting, and warmer temperatures and human infrastructure can support foreign nest predators. To understand how shorebirds respond to these ecological and environmental signals we fit Dunlin (Calidris alpina arcticola) with solar-powered GPS devices to track their movements during the breeding season in Northern Alaska. We used spatial movement models, such as hidden Markov models and continuous-time movement models, to compare bird movements with environmental covariates. From this we can understand how Dunlin movements and behaviors are influenced by the environment around them and gain important insights into how these birds may adapt to their changing environment.

April 22, 2024 12:00 p.m.

Understanding IFEWs Miles: Navigating the Nexus of Manure and Energy in Iowa

Júlia Brittes Tuthill, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, GIS Certificate Candidate

Advisor: Dr. Amy Kaleita

ABSTRACT:  Excess nitrogen from agriculture, particularly in Iowa, poses environmental risks like eutrophication, affecting ecosystems and water safety. Understanding the water-related impacts of agricultural nitrogen is vital for environmental improvements. The Iowa Food-Energy-Water (IFEW) nexus links food, energy, and water production and distribution, which is crucial in Iowa due to its substantial agricultural output and ethanol production. The IFEWs Miles initiative concentrates on tracing the routes and water quality implications of transporting corn and soybeans to ethanol and biodiesel plants, as well as the feasibility of using manure as organic fertilizer for corn crops within a specific radius, typically limited to 20 miles. This approach aims to deepen the understanding of the logistical and ecological aspects of biofuel production and organic fertilization in Iowa's agricultural system. However, this agricultural intensity creates a nitrogen surplus, harming water quality. Challenges in transporting by-products like manure exacerbate environmental issues. The IFEWs Miles framework aims to detail the environmental impact of Iowa's agricultural practices, guiding sustainable farming policies to enhance water quality and ecosystem health.

April 29, 2024 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Two Seminars)

Predicting suitability of Mississippi and Missouri river tributaries for invasive carp spawning using habitat suitability models

Britney M. Hall, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, GIS Certificate Candidate

Advisor: Dr. Michael J. Weber

ABSTRACT: Two of the most recent and detrimental aquatic invaders are Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix). Understanding where invasive carp reproduce could be useful for predicting population expansion and developing targeted management efforts. Thus, our objectives were to estimate spawning habitat suitability of invasive carp in Iowa based on habitat preferences of river length, sinuosity, presence of turbulent hardpoints, and water temperature and flow. We modelled 20 rivers by dividing each river into 25 km segments and used color infrared imagery as a reference when using automation and point features in GIS to digitize preferred habitat criteria. River segments were analyzed for changes in reproductive suitability as a function of three different weighted models using the Suitability Modeler environment in GIS to assess varying levels of contribution for each habitat criterion. Results from this study could help improve the efficiency of monitoring and removal efforts by identifying locations predicted to be well suited for adult aggregation and reproduction.

Identifying Spatial Threats to Blanding’s Turtle Populations in Iowa 

Lizzy Lang, Natural Resources and Ecology Management, GIS Certificate Candidate

Advisor: Dr. Anna M. Tucker & Dr. Stephen J. Dinsmore

ABSTRACT:  Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) are declining throughout their range and are a species of

 greatest conservation need in Iowa. We monitored Blanding’s turtles throughout 2023 and into 2024 using radio telemetry, and used their estimated home ranges to identify potential spatial threats at our study sites. We repeated this process across Iowa and compared it to a Blanding's turtle habitat suitability model to use in a population viability analysis on the species. Spatial threats were characterized as different types of anthropogenic development (i.e. agriculture, roads, and urbanization), and identified using raster images from the National Land Cover Database. All land cover analysis was performed in ArcPro using general tools (for manipulating raster and vector data), digitizing, and statistical summaries. Analysis of home range and population viability was performed in R using the packages "sf" and "popbio" respectively. We found several potential spatial threats at our sites, and across Iowa, that could affect Blanding’s turtle population viability. These mostly consist of agricultural development and roads. 

May 6, 2024 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Three Seminars)

Floodplain sediment and phosphorus accretion in the West Nishnabotna River corridor, Iowa

Kelvin Baah, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, GIS Certificate Candidate 

       Advisor: Dr. Peter Moore

ABSTRACT:  Significant amounts of phosphorus entering fluvial systems in Iowa originate from eroding streambanks rather than direct agricultural runoffs. Fine alluvial sediments in riverbanks, often enriched in legacy phosphorus, are transferred to surface waters upon bank erosion. In large rivers across the agricultural Midwest, most total phosphorus is transported as particulate phosphorus. Some sediment and phosphorus can be returned to the floodplain during overbank flow conditions. Floodplain surface height and vegetation type and distribution are expected to influence the magnitude of overbank sediment deposition, but few studies have quantified these roles. This study aims to characterize the influence of floodplain height and vegetation on the magnitude and spatial distribution of sediment and phosphorus accretion in the West Nishnabotna River corridor. Floodplain height was estimated using the HAND (height above nearest drainage) GIS algorithm. Vegetation communities were mapped by reclassifying existing land cover according to field observations. These data are being analyzed alongside sediment accretion using LiDAR-based geomorphic change detection. This study will enlighten us on how floodplain height and different vegetation communities trap sediment and phosphorus during floods.

Creating a New Digital Soil Map for Nigeria to Inform Decisions for Sustainable Agricultural Productivity and Food Security

Oyeyemi Raphael OYELEKE, Agronomy, GIS Certificate Candidate 

       Advisor: Dr. Bradley Miller

ABSTRACT: The objective of this project is to create a new digital soil map for Nigeria to replace the traditional
Soil map produced in 1964, which will inform decisions for sustainable agricultural productivity and  Food security. The procedure will involve using Nigeria georeferenced soil data, remote sensing data, and digital terrain derivatives to create the environmental covariates stack. The data integration begins with extracting values from the covariate stack for the soil observation points. That dataset is then split. (80%) for training and validation (20%) for the machine learning algorithm using Cubist. The model generated by Cubist is applied to the covariate stack to produce a continuous map of soil properties. The reserved 20% of soil observations are then used to evaluate the prediction accuracy of the spatial model and communicate the level of uncertainty to end users.

Movement Ecology of the Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus)

        Rachel Siller, Natural Resources and Ecology Mangaement, GIS Certificate Candidate 

Advisor: Dr. Stephen Dinsmore

ABSTRACT: The Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus) is a medium-sized shorebird that breeds in the Great Plains and has experienced recent population declines. During the summers of 2021-2023, I placed high-frequency GPS tags on plovers in Phillips County, Montana. I used a leg-loop harness to permanently attach the tags, which allowed for data collection across the full annual cycle. With this fine-scale movement data we gained new insight into breeding behavior from incubation through post-breeding, such as plovers’ use of prairie-dog colonies, incubation behavior, and brood movements. From the plovers that returned, we were also able to gain insight into the timing of migration and details about their route and stopover locations. Understanding how plovers move across the landscape and how these movement patterns differ between life stages can help guide management decisions.