Amurum forest reserve is located near the city of Jos, Plateau state, Nigeria. It was established in conjunction with the initiation of the A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI) for the purpose of natural conservation, education and research. APLORI is hosted by the Department of Zoology at the University of Jos. Yearly a group of approximately eight highly motivated students from all over Nigeria obtain training in conservation biology, statistics (with R) and as of 2011 GIS as well. During two weeks in December 2011 we studied basic GIS concepts and applied those with QGIS for various conservation purposes. In this article we describe the way in which we used QGIS to map the habitats and its determinants of Amurum reserve and how the basic habitat maps were used to obtain strata for the purpose of efficiently determining the spatial distribution of the avifauna including the biodiversity.
The habitat maps were used to generate random locations. The area of the various types of habitat were used to generate a number of locations proportional to the surface of each habitat type (stratification).
The random points in fTools were used for this purpose. All the locations were visited during two mornings by four groups of students (2 per group) giving a total of 38 random locations dispersed throughout the reserve. The observation data were entered in a spreadsheet and analyzed using R. In addition, the Shannon-Wiener diversity index was calculated using R. After merging the location file with the resulting observation data it was exported as a csv file which was loaded into QGIS using the “Add delimited text layer” tool. On the basis of the above mentioned layers a map was constructed presenting some of the most important landscape features and avian diversity of the Amurum reserve.
Overall, the course was a great success. We - a group of students with no previous GIS experience - enjoyed working with QGIS a lot. Within just two weeks time we were able to develop an extremely useful map of the reserve. Amongst others, the extents of the various habitats were determined which allows for stratification and thus for better estimates of abundances of various kinds of organisms. Basically we are now able to do better ecological research using QGIS as an open source platform.