Defenders' Spatial Science Program

Defenders' spatial science program provides maps and analyses to support all of our conservation efforts. Our work ranges from using remotely-sensed imagery to monitor endangered species habitat to developing predictive spatial models to inform conservation decisions. Each map below focuses on one of Defenders' key species, focal landscapes, or policy areas. Click on the thumbnail to open each application and explore Defenders' work.


Our conservation efforts are targeted at the full range of vulnerable North American biodiversity, from plants to pollinators to predators. Defenders' spatial science program is focusing on conservation threats and opportunities for our 25 'key species' - vulnerable species like wolves, manatees, sea otters, bison and grizzly bears, as well as some lesser known but equally imperiled species, like pollinators, freshwater mussels and amphibians - that play key ecological roles and serve as vital indicators of ecosystem health and environmental quality.  


Wildlife has the greatest chance of being secure and thriving if it is supported by a transnational network of public and private lands, rivers and coastal waters, core natural areas and working landscapes. Our spatial science program is working in 15 'focal landscapes' to identify biodiversity hotspots, connectivity corridors, and climate refugia for imperiled species, as well as monitor and track changes in critical habitat, recovery units, and protected areas.


Protecting Habitat on Federal Lands
Protecting habitat on Federal lands

Protecting habitat on public lands. Most public lands are working landscapes, managed for multiple uses including energy development, livestock grazing, mining and recreation, in addition to wildlife conservation. Multiple use landscapes make it difficult to balance resource use with wildlife conservation. Our spatial science program is helping us identify and prioritize habitat areas on public lands to ensure that species have the room to thrive and recover.

Improving the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
Improving the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Improving the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Moving species closer to recovery requires transparent and accountable monitoring. Our spatial science program is tracking habitat disturbance through time and across space to make sure that we have the clearest picture of what’s happening for species on the ground. We also look for ways to make ESA policies more efficient, helping limited conservation dollars go farther, and making it easier for the public to comply with ESA regulations.  

Smart from the Start Renewable Energy in the West
Smart from the start renewable energy in the West

Promoting renewable energy. Generating clean, renewable electricity from sun, wind and geothermal sources is one of the best ways to slow down global climate change—one of the leading threats facing wildlife today. Our spatial science program is helping to ensure that renewable energy projects are built close to existing transmission, on already degraded lands, and away from important habitat areas.