Student Projects 2019

The Future of Island Oaks


The Future of Island Oaks

Laura Wolf, Sofie McComb, Claire Powers, Jazmine Uy, Alyssa Winchell

Bren School of Environmental Management, University of California, Santa Barbara

Island oak (Quercus tomentella) is a rare oak species endemic to six islands in the California Island Archipelago (CAIA). Over a century of farming and grazing on the islands degraded core habitat and reduced island oak seedling recruitment. The species was listed as endangered by the IUCN in 2016. Most historical threats have been removed, though island oak regeneration is still restricted and there is concern that impending climate change poses an additional threat that may ultimately lead to extinction. Spatially-constrained, if the island oak’s range shifts or further deteriorates, alternative options are limited. We used MaxEnt, a species distribution model, to identify island oak’s bioclimatic niche on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Santa Catalina Islands and then predicted where that niche might exist through the end of the century under four climate change scenarios. Model outputs supported three main findings: (1) Island oak’s predicted bioclimatic niche was largely driven by soil moisture availability; (2) Santa Rosa Island had the most predicted suitable habitat under each climate change scenario, while predicted suitable habitat on Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands was minimal; and (3) the bioclimatic habitat occupied by island oak varies substantially between the three islands studied. Improvements in
life history information, legacy grazing patterns, and more finely downscaled climate data would substantially increase model validity. Research should focus on identifying mechanisms driving the variation in habitat occupied on each island, while restoration should prioritize habitat augmentation and seedling recruitment, to increase island oak’s resiliency to climate change.

Urbanization and its Effects on the Surrounding Environment
Urbanization poster
Urbanization and its Effects on the Surrounding Environment: Case Study of Beijing and Lanzhou, China
In the past decades, China has experienced massive economic growth and urban development. Changes in urban land cover, vegetation healthiness, and temperature distribution are crucial factors to understand the urbanization effects on the surrounding environment. Beijing and Lanzhou, two distinctive cities in terms of size and geographical location, are selected as our study objects. Using Landsat 5 and 8 images from 1993 to 2017 for the two cities, we train our algorithms to classify land cover types, including urban, vegetation, soil, and water. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is calculated to measure vegetation health. Temperatures are derived using the radiance of the thermal band. Land cover classes are used for NDVI and temperature analysis. Based on the results, both Lanzhou and Beijing experienced urban expansion over the study period. Especially in Beijing, both its scale and urbanization rate are greater compared to those in Lanzhou due to the demographic, topographic, and economic differences. Urbanization influences the total amount of vegetation but does not directly cause a decrease in vegetation healthiness. The temperatures in both cities have increasing trends. The temperatures of urban and soil areas are higher than those of vegetation and water. In Beijing, the urban areas have the highest temperature, and the hot spots correspond with the urban expansion, reflecting a positive urban heat island effect. In contrast, in Lanzhou, the soil areas have higher temperatures than urban areas, which indicates a negative heat island effect. In conclusion, urbanization leads to a positive impact on temperature change but does not decrease vegetation health. Vegetation and water will mitigate the urban heat island effect
Guiyu Li, Yingyi He, Jiaxuan Lyu, Hoayu Shi
Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara
Perspective Taking is Affected by Array, Perspective Shift, and pointing Quadrant
Perspective Taking
Perspective Taking is Affected by Array, Perspective Shift, and pointing Quadrant
Previous research on spatial perspective taking ability has used psychometric tests like the Perspective Taking Test (PTT). The present experiment introduces an experimental task that systematically varies the magnitude of the initial perspective shift and of the pointing response, and examines the effects of the addition of a person in the array. Performance on this computerized PTT indicated that accuracy increased with inclusion of a person in the array compared to a control condition, decreased with increases in initial perspective shift, and was best when pointing to the front in the imaged perspective. These perspective shift and pointing response patterns were consistent regardless of whether a person was included in the task array, suggesting that participants do not modify their strategy when a person is included. Regardless of the size of the initial perspective shift or pointing quadrant, participants seem to be engaging mental transformation and visualization processes.

Peri Gunalp, Elizabeth Chrastil, Mary Hegarty

University of California, Santa Barbara

Academic Discipline's Interactions with Spatial Aptitude

Academic Disciplines and Spatial Aptitude

Academic Discipline’s Interactions with Spatial Aptitude

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are academic disciplines that have been associated with spatial aptitude.Visualizing objects, being aware of spatial relationships, having knowledge of movement and speed, in addition to analyzing complicated systems are all important skills for being successful in STEM disciplines. This study tested the spatial aptitudes of participants from different academic disciplines such as engineering, physical sciences, and social sciences in order to see whether or not there was an actual difference in visuospatial performance. The results found that participants in engineering and STEM disciplines had slightly stronger spatial aptitudes.

Emily Cao, Adora Du, Luke Speier, Chuanxiuyue (Carol) He, Mary Hegarty

Hegarty Spatial Cognition Lab, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Analysis of Students' Familiarity with UCSB Campus

Student's Unfamiliarity Poster

Analysis of Students’ Familiarity with UCSB Campus

UCSB campus is approximately 989 acres so it can be easy to be unfamiliar with the campus. In this project, we address areas of unfamiliarity within the UCSB campus and explore three possible associations that might influence familiarity on the UCSB campus: Campus Resource Availability, Accessibility, and Activity. The Campus Resource Availability factor highlights how availability of the campus resources, such as computer labs and foods, affect familiarity. The Accessibility factor indicates the influence of accessibility to the campus buildings on familiarity. The Activity factor shows how familiarity is influenced by students’ activity around campus.

The Effects of Drought on Land Fallowing and Crop Health in Agriculture

Drought for Agriculture

The Effects of Drought on Land Fallowing and Crop Health in Agriculture

Brody Brand, Jessica Martinez, McKenzie Sime

Departments of Geography and EEMB, University of California, Santa Barbara

In this project, we aimed to discern the effects of both drought severity and water source on agriculture. Looking at three counties in April of 2011, 2014, and 2018, we assessed the percentage of cropland that had been fallowed and the health of crops using an NDVI and an NDWI. We found that Linn County, Oregon, which has no shortage of water, had the least fallowed land and the healthiest crops. In Merced County and Imperial County, California, we found that there was some variation in the percentage of fallowed land with drought severity and no variation in crop health with drought. Water source did not seem to have an effect for the 2014 drought.

Effects of Human Land Use on Invasive Species Density in Hawaii

Hawaii's Invasive Species

Effects of Human Land Use on Invasive Species Density in Hawaii

Juli Ann Lingenberg, Noelle Pruett, McKenzie Sime

Departments of EEMB and Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara

In this project, we aimed to discover which land use type had invasive species observations in the highest density in Hawaii. Using a land use map from the Hawaii State Land Use Commission (LUC) and species observations for 15 invasive species from iNaturalist, we found the density of observations in each of our four land use types (urban, rural, agriculture, and conservation). Urban areas had the highest density (8x the average). We then looked at buffers around the urban areas of differing distances and found that the further a buffer went out from an urban area, the lower the density of observations became.

The City of Thousand Oaks Community Energy Action Plan

Thousand Oaks Energy Plan

The City of Thousand Oaks Community Energy Action Plan: Residential Energy Consumption

Carrie Simmons, GIS Aide

City of Thousand Oaks Public Works Department

This analysis is a guiding component to the City of Thousand Oaks Community Energy Action Plan (CEAP). The main goals of this plan are to reduce fossil fueled based energy usage and increase energy efficiency and resilience in The City of Thousand Oaks. This data and analysis will be able to inform City staff on what areas or demographics should be targeted and how to strategically implement programs and outline steps to lower overall energy consumption. Staff plan to use this energy consumption data over a variety of parameters such as building age, solar panel usage, income, population density, home ownership versus renters, and much more. Over time this analysis may become part of the Cities Climate Action Plan which has a goal of addressing activities to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). This analysis is an initial step to seeing how we can use this data to create programs and policies to meet our climate goals.

Communities of Interest at Different Scales

Communities of Interest at Different Scales

Communities of Interest at Different Scales

Daniel W. Phillips

Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara

When drawing boundaries of electoral districts, officials commonly rely on four criteria besides equal population: contiguity, compactness, respect for administrative regions, and respect for communities of interest (COIs). That last criterion is not as easily defined, as what exactly constitutes a COI is open to interpretation. This research evaluates the merits of one potential method for identifying and defining COIs, by surveying residents and asking them to draw the boundaries of their COI on a map. Those areas covered by many respondents’ drawings would thus constitute the core of people’s cognitive COI. A study conducted in Santa Barbara County, California demonstrates that this method results in clearly-defined and coherent COIs that somewhat correspond to the existing electoral districts. The study also reveals that survey participants, despite the fact that all of them live in the same district at three different levels of government, conceive of separate urban and rural COIs. Furthermore, the extent of the map given to participants has a large effect on the size of the COI that they draw. These results indicate the importance of the urban-rural dichotomy and the effects of scale in defining what a COI really is.