Geospatial analysis and habitat suitability modeling of Elliottia racemosa (Georgia plume)
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Georgia plume (Elliottia racemosa) is a threatened ericaceous tree endemic to the Coastal Plain region of Georgia. A Geographic Information System and Global Positioning System (GIS/GPS) was used in conjunction with logistic regression techniques to analyze the correlations between habitat factors and the distribution of Georgia plume at Big Hammock Natural Area in the Coastal Plain of south Georgia. Distance to river, lime buffering capacity, soil pH, percent base saturation, cation exchange capacity and soil iron, nickel, and lead concentrations were significant factors relating to the presence of Georgia plume. However, a stepwise selection process determined iron soil concentration to be the only useful factor for the final linear regression logistic model. The findings were applied to create a GIS-based habitat suitability model for Georgia plume for successful prediction of habitat suitability as a function of five environmental factors. A total of forty three percent of the study area was characterized as highly suitable habitat for Georgia plume.