Mappers at the University of Oregon’s InfoGraphics Lab have been a key partner in a new report on deer and elk migrations that highlights the challenges the animals face and offers solutions and tools for conservation .

The aim of the report, produced in partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts, is to provide a basis for policy and management decisions at all levels of government that can better conserve migratory species and their movement corridors.

The report, “How to Conserve Wildlife Migrations in the West,” was a collaboration between the Wyoming Migration Initiative, a University of Wyoming research collective led by Matt Kauffman, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the InfoGraphics Lab of the OU. It draws heavily on existing and updated maps and data visualizations from “Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates”, a publication created by the Wyoming Migration Initiative and the UO in 2018.

Ungulates include deer, elk, caribou, and antelope.

Using maps and data visualizations in scientific publications and reports helps break down science in an digestible way for readers, lab members said. As cartographers, members of the InfoGraphics Lab bring their research expertise to the process and translate spatial data.

One of the ways they support research is by working closely with principal investigators to identify aspects or research findings that could be better communicated through maps or data visualizations.

“Ecologists are on the ground, gathering data and later analyzing that data to understand migration patterns,” said map developer Joanna Merson. “Where it becomes impactful is when it is communicated to the public, land managers and decision makers. One of our greatest contributions is to help communicate science to a wide audience, land managers and the general public. »

Creating visual data for a complex scientific journal is different from visuals for reaching a more public audience, like The Pew Report, said Mapping Project Manager Alethea Steingisser.

“You might have to spend a lot more time trying to figure out a number in a scientific journal compared to one that’s created for more public use,” Steingisser said. “The maps and charts we create retain the robustness of the data while communicating quickly, clearly and effectively.”

The InfoGraphics Lab has worked with the Wyoming Migration Initiative since 2013, creating maps and graphics for a variety of efforts that include film, social media, journal publications, museum exhibits and more. According to Merson, this story allowed the InforGraphics Lab “to act as the mapping arm of the Wyoming Migration Initiative.”

Projects like this allow the InfoGraphics Lab to support student learning and give hands-on experience to UO undergraduate and graduate students helping with geographic information systems, cartography, and design. Student cartographers Lucy Roberts and Ian Freeman both contributed to the Pew report.

Students, faculty members, and anyone in the community interested in the Computer Graphics Lab or learning more about geographic information science can attend UO World GIS Day event on Wednesday, November 16 at the Knight Library.

By McKenzie Days, College of Arts and Sciences