Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geography

Committee Chair

David Shively

Commitee Members

Anna Klene, Natalie Dawson


inland, temperate, rainforest, biodiversity, surrogates, environmental, cluster, analysis


University of Montana

Subject Categories



Environmental surrogates have been proposed as a method for addressing a lack of taxonomic data in biodiversity conservation planning. These surrogates, used as variables in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis, can be used in classification procedures to classify areas that are hypothesized to support or be able to support a targeted species or community. The peripheral range of the inland temperate rainforest’s (ITRF) in northwest Montana and northern Idaho was used as a case study for testing the utility of a method known as Environmental Cluster Analysis (ECA) within a GIS using abiotic environmental variables encompassing broad environmental attributes to classify this forest type. The objective was to test if this statistical clustering classification identified sites that contained or could accommodate this forest type and thus contribute to biodiversity planning in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Results indicate that the generalizing nature of ECA is not suitable for meeting the objectives of many conventional biodiversity goals when emphasis is placed on the limited distribution species or communities. The results from this research support the conclusion that ECA is not adequate for formulating a strategy for developing and implementing ITRF conservation planning.

Included in

Biodiversity Commons



© Copyright 2014 Matthew J. Heimel