Clark Labs, a research center within the George Perkins Marsh Institute at Clark University, has been awarded $644,395 from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to support the development of a system to monitor and analyze tropical biodiversity.

Scientists studying ecosystems need improved ways to accurately evaluate data collected over decades through satellite imagery and studies on the ground. The grant will support Clark’s plans to analyze existing data archives, identify areas in need of analysis and search for trends that predict changes—potentially creating an early warning system for scientists. The project will provide tools and information to answer scientific questions related to ecosystem protection, conservation and human well-being.

Clark Labs specializes in the analytical development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and mapping technology for environmental management. Central to this work is the IDRISI GIS and Image Processing software system developed at and distributed by Clark Labs.

Clark professor of geography and Clark Labs director J. Ronald Eastman is principal investigator of the Moore Foundation grant. Eastman created the award-winning IDRISI software, which serves more than 35,000 users worldwide.

A Geographic Information System consists of a database of spatial information (such as digital map data and satellite imagery) along with specialized software for the management, display and analysis of those data. GIS technology has grown enormously over the past 30 years. GIS software is in daily use in areas as diverse as urban systems management, regional planning, emergency response, epidemiology, landscape architecture, environmental planning, forestry, geology, ecology, park management, power utilities, and the like.

For more information about IDRISI and Clark Labs, go to www.ClarkLabs.Org.

Professor Eastman received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 1982. He joined the Geography department at Clark in 1981 and served as Director of the Graduate School of Geography from 1998-2002. His interests include geographic information systems, remote sensing, and cartography. Eastman is also a Visiting Professor at the Department of Resources and Environmental Sciences at Beijing Normal University. He has worked extensively in the area of GIS development and its applications, particularly in an international development setting, and has participated in field work throughout Asia, South America and Africa.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was established in September 2000 to create positive outcomes for future generations. The Foundation funds outcome-based grants and initiatives to achieve significant and measurable results. Grantmaking supports the Foundation's principal areas of interest: global environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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