The Gap Analysis Program (GAP) at the University of Idaho (UI-GAP) has partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program for 27 years, since its inception in 1989. The concept of gap analysis was conceived by Dr. J. Michael Scott, Idaho Cooperative Research Unit leader at the University of Idaho. He developed methods to assess endangered birds in Hawaii and began by mapping the distribution of each species individually. Then he combined data on individual species to create a map of species richness throughout the island. Until this approach was developed there was no broad scale way to assess the level of protection given to areas rich in biodiversity.
The pilot gap analysis project was initiated by Dr. Scott and other researchers in 1988, as the Idaho Gap Analysis Project at the University of Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Following two years of methods development, the program was launched in 1989 as part of the U.S. Geological Survey Gap Analysis Program (USGS-GAP). Over time, USGS-GAP expanded to all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In partnership with USGS-GAP, UI-GAP developed standards for land cover mapping over large areas, mapping species distributions, compiling national protected areas data, and applying these data to proactive conservation planning. With over 35 years of combined experience, UI-GAP has expertise in:
- conservation biology
- geographic information systems (GIS)
- spatial modeling
- land cover mapping
- species modeling
- database integration
- database management
- applying spatial data to conservation planning.