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Geospatial Applications - ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS is a powerful mapping software that links geospatial data (data with a location on the Earth's surface) and descriptive data (called attributes) for geospatial analysis. In turn, maps can be used to better represent the world around us and allow for the easy sharing of data and stories.

Conservation Stories: Using GIS and Esri Story Maps to Raise Awareness

Giant pandas. Green sea turtles. The California Condor. In school or in the news, we’ve learned about many species in peril and human efforts to save them from extinction. However, these charismatic megafauna are only the tip of the threatened species iceberg: many more organisms, large and small, face pressures such as habitat loss, pollution, illegal trade, and climate change. Today, conservation is even more relevant than ever – and telling these species’ stories is crucial to raise awareness of their plight.

This past spring, graduate and undergraduate students in Professor Santoro’s GIS for Conservation Management class (GEV 4320/8320) used their GIS skills to perform spatial analyses centered around conserving rare or threatened species. These analyses included modeling species habitat, assessing connectivity between habitat patches, and selecting the best locations for preserves. Students used their results to create compelling maps that show where we should prioritize conservation actions.

In order to tell an effective story about their analysis, students created Esri Story Maps for their final course projects. Esri Story Maps combine interactive maps, images, text, and other multimedia in a single layout to tell compelling, immersive stories that can be shared widely; as such, Story Maps have become a great tool for public engagement and spreading awareness.

While developing their story maps, students were challenged to paint a comprehensive picture of their project results, including relevant background information, and conveying their message in an engaging manner. Each student selected their own species of interest and researched its background, habitat needs, and conservation status to create these Story Maps. Their results are truly impressive! You can view their Story Maps to learn more about conserving these endangered species here, or you can stop by Falvey Memorial Library to see them being featured on a touchscreen exhibit in the new Digital Scholarship Lab.

Additional Student Projects

Below is a Story Map created by a GEV alum, Jamie, who traveled to Madagascar during the summer of 2018.  Her 9,000 mile trip is a part of an ongoing relationship that Villanova has with Catholic Reflief Services and their humanitarian aid mission.


Web maps can also help guide people through unfamiliar areas while sharing local information. The map below was made by Geography and Environmental Science major Lauren for our Geo-Techniques course. She used advanced Esri field collection and web methods to produce this map.