Ecology Photo of the Month

The Morgan Fire of 2013 burned nearly 3,000 acres primarily on the east and south sides of Mount Diablo. In the spring of 2014 Nomad Ecology conducted a post-fire study of fire-following annual plants. In several of their plots fire poppy (Papaver californicum) was observed - an exciting find! Fire poppies haven’t been seen on Mount Diablo since after the 1977 fire, nearly 40 years ago.  


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    GIS Services

    To complement our suite of ecologically related services, Nomad uses Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to analyze the spatial distribution of plants, animals, and other natural resources. GIS is an inseparable part of biological studies and is relied upon during background research, fieldwork, and data compilation to process spatial data into information tied explicitly to, and used to make decisions about, some feature of the earth.

    In addition to mapping known or newly discovered locations of rare plants, animals, and vegetation communities, GIS is employed for mapping and analyzing soil types, geology, vegetation, wetlands, riparian areas, migration corridors, watersheds, view sheds, etc., and how these resources relate to project or resource management implementation. The application of GIS can be broken up into three categories: Data Collection, Analysis, and Deliverables.


    Data Collection

    Employing the latest in Geographic Positioning System (GPS) technology, Nomad has increased its speed and accuracy in data collection, field mapping, and data analysis and our ability to digitally compile, manage, and share natural resource data. We possess the latest mobile GIS and GPS technology, a Trimble Geo Series running the latest ArcPad software with Trimble’s GPSsubmeter correct software. Loaded with aerial photos, topographic maps, California Natural Diversity Database information, and project base maps, real-time information on biological resources (i.e. wetlands, rare plant populations, habitat impacts, wildlife habitat, etc.) can be collected and updated in the field efficiently and accurately.



    GPS data are analyzed using ESRI’s latest desktop GIS software ArcGIS, which allows the user to overlay baseline natural resource data from soils, vegetation, special-status species, and wetlands for multi-variable spatial analysis. Spatial information is cataloged in our expansive GIS library, allowing us to further evaluate, map, model, and analyze potential project impacts to sensitive biological resources and develop meaningful project constraints and opportunities maps.

    Remote sensing techniques are also applied when mapping biotic and abiotic landscape mosaics, e.g. vegetation communities, exotic species infestations, and aquatic features. Nomad also utilizes Digital Orthophotography Quadrangles (DOQ’s) – aerial photographs constructed to eliminate image displacement stemming from changes in aircraft tilt and topographic relief – along with other remote sensing tools to streamline field and in-house mapping efforts while maximizing the accuracy and acreage mapped. Such maps and digital graphic layers allow planners and land developers to avoid or minimize project impacts, thereby reducing project costs and streamlining the regulatory process.

    GIS is a powerful natural resource management tool assisting a variety of land trust, open space, and park mangers to enhance, conserve, and affect meaningful ecological stewardship. Grazing management and habitat restoration can be identified and prioritized by combining baseline information with data such as erosion hazards, bank stabilization locations, and exotic species infestations. With GIS as a member of the management toolbox, valuable resources can be protected and enhanced.



    GIS deliverables come in many forms depending upon the subject and client’s need, and include maps, exhibits, and digital shapefiles. GIS products recently created by Nomad include a variety of maps depicting project locations, habitats, species inventories, constraints and opportunities, and regulatory exhibits. Graphic depictions are easy to read, relay large quantities of data, provide a regional framework, and are easily imported into AutoCAD for planning. Nomad has made a name for itself by providing clients with accurate, high quality digital maps and graphics of large and small scale projects alike.