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PREDICTING POTENTIAL DISTRIBUTION OF ORCHIS GALILAEA IN LEBANON USING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM

N. Machaka-Houri, A. Houri, D. B. Westbury, M. Ibarhim
Wednesday 19 December 2018 by Libadmin2018

ABSTRACT

Orchis galilaea is the only Lebanese orchid that is restricted geographically to Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. It is a terrestrial orchid that attracts its pollinator by sexual deception while offering no reward. The full distribution of this orchid in Lebanon has not been determined. This study is part of ongoing research into the population dynamics of the orchid to form a management plan for its conservation. A Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to identify the habitat characteristics of O. galilaea and map its distribution in Lebanon by combining known locations with digital layers of environmental variables, including topography, land cover, soil type, geology and precipitation. Classes within each environmental parameter were defined and weighted according to their frequency of occurrence at extant sites. A predictive GIS model was developed by overlaying the five layers of the habitat characteristics. The predicted distribution map of O. galilaea was then validated by confirming presence of the orchid in the predicted locations and absence in the unsuitable areas through exploration field trips. Eighty five locations were surveyed and seven previously unknown populations of O. galilaea were discovered. These new O. galilaea locations were all correctly predicted by the model as potential habitat. The accuracy of the model was confirmed as it was significantly more likely to find the orchid in predicted suitable habitat compared with unsuitable habitat. Combining ecological habitat characteristics using GIS proved to be a useful tool to successfully predict the potential distribution of O. galilaea in Lebanon and will assist in planning its conservation measures.

Keywords: deceptive orchid, population, habitat, conservation, map.


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