Western Cordillera Historical First Person Journal Wildlife Google Map and Datasets:
Brief Explanation and Outline
As one tool to help interpret changes in vegetation visible in historic photographs, observers can use first person journal accounts to estimate historical human, wildlife, fish and fowl densities and corridor use. The journal data currently start on July 22, 1754 with Anthony Henday’s observations as he started across the Canadian prairies, and conclude on June 30, 1860 when Captain William Raynolds descended the Madison River to Three Forks after a month long journey from the North Platte River through the Rocky Mountains. In between are about 10,000 wildlife and other ecological observations from such notables as Alexander Mackenzie, Lewis and Clark, Peter Skene Ogden, and David Thompson. The main wildlife journal observation database methodology follows: Kay, C.E. 2007. “Were Native People Keystone Predators? A Continuous-Time Analysis of Wildlife Observations Made by Lewis and Clark”. Canadian Field-Naturalist 121 (2007): 1-16.
Google Earth file- If you have Google Earth loaded on your computer, these should map by simply downloading the “kmz” file. On many computers, when you click on download button above, a Google Map version shows up first, with the actual “file download” toggle on the right top of the map. Click this to get the kmz file (currently about 600KB).
Once you are using Google Earth file, basic information on each point (journalist/date) is available by right clicking on the point, and looking at “Properties”. Alternately, you can expand the legend on the left of the Google Earth map, and choose journals, periods of time, or even individual journal days. For example, by clicking on and off the visible files for trips, you have many options to look at certain trips, or periods of time.
As per the legend file on Google Earth, the “working” color coding for the Google Earth Map journal-day points is:
1) Bison country: Yellow is no bison observed or no wildlife observation for day, Orange is moderate numbers, Red is many bison observed/killed.
2) Salmon country (or other fisheries): Light blue is no fishing observed, or no observation for day, grading to dark blue for major fishing observed.
3) Moose and caribou country: light green is no caribou observed, or no observation for day, grading to dark green for abundant caribou.
4) Browns indicate abundant elk-E, deer-D or moose-M observed for day. This and other wildlife observations are better interpreted through the more detailed Excel files (see below).
Of course, once you have opened the properties for each point you can re-colour or code your points by whatever scheme meets your working needs.
The project has likely done about 60% of bison country historical journals observations available, and is just working into salmon, moose, and caribou country.
Excel data file– The more detailed wildlife observation databases that go with all of this need some more editing and clean up, and are included in an Excel file. A key for this is at the top of the file.
Example: Bison Movement Corridors– One application of this data is to evaluate the pattern of bison movement corridors into the Rocky Mountains from the Great Plains around the Yellowstone Plateau. The repeat photograph posting for Henry’s Lake provides more detail for thinking about the South or Bozeman pass corridors. These are the “mothers of all corridors” for bison going west into the Cordillera. A brief view of the wildlife journal data suggests a major bison dispersal event westwards over South or Bozeman passes in about 1815.
I intend to keep this ongoing work and data in the public domain, so please pass along to those interested. Many other types of quantitative analyses are possible.