Geospatial Mapping for Biodiversity –Dr. Thomas Gillespie (Baker Center)

In Dr. Thomas Gillespie’s Baker Center lecture, he is beginning to use Geographic Integrated Systems (GIS) in tandem with remote sensing devices to accurately predict how plant communities thrive. Specifically, his work and “test subjects” were being demonstrated in Oahu, Hawaii. As he looks at the state’s flower, he observes the migratory pattern of its movement and richness in health. Moreover, he applies similar data collection by looking at more tropical vegetation areas in California, where he is a professor at UCLA. Throughout his taxonomic investigations in the increasing dryness of tropical forests and their plant communities, I noticed a tie in the scientific data collection of his work that could be beneficial in the way landscape architects approach landscapes in a world of mercurial climates. As his remote sensors record real-time changes in terrestrial vegetation, landscape architects could–and should–be utilizing his findings in order to help predict how architectural interventions could disrupt or strengthen vegetative change. A useful subset of those findings can also help us to decide where plants should grow. As landscape architects, it should be a present-day imperative that scientific scholarship on climate change and its effects on vegetation is integrated in the discourse of design as additional tools to help us create truly performative and adaptive architecture.

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