Maps and mappers of the 2016 calendar: Jacqueline Kovarik

In our series “Maps and mappers of the 2016 calendar” we will present throughout 2016 the mapmakers who submitted their creations for inclusion in the 2016 GeoHipster calendar.


Jacqueline Kovarik

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I currently work as a GIS Developer at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), creating interactive web maps and data collection apps that assist with natural resource management. My BA in Environmental Studies and MS in Geographic Information Science are put to good use every day in a job that I truly enjoy.

Q: Tell us the story behind your map (what inspired you to make it, what did you learn while making it, or any other aspects of the map or its creation you would like people to know).

A: This past year I had the opportunity to work with several amazing bee experts at the DNR, looking for an efficient way to collect data on native bees in Minnesota. There has been a shocking decline in bee population across the country, which prompted the DNR to research native bees and their habitat. After creating a data collection app for our bee researchers, we spent a day testing it in the field where I was amazed to learn there are over 400 native bee species in our state. Many of these species gather pollen from plants in only one plant family (known as “specialist” bees), but there has been little research completed on their habitat characteristics or range.

Through this data collection application development process I was inspired to investigate a few of Minnesota’s specialist bees, and wanted to create a map that would draw attention to the diversity of bees in our state while bringing awareness to bee population decline. I also wanted to highlight the need for increased data and analysis, which is an integral component of bee population preservation.

Over the past few years I’ve created a handful of watercolor maps based on personal areas of curiosity, including illegal animal trade, UFO sightings, modern day pirate attacks, etc. I have a passion for painting as well as map making, so it was only natural to combine my two interests. It’s been a great way to maintain my cartographic skills which I find little time for now as a developer.

Q: Tell us about the tools, data, etc., you used to make the map.

A: Data collected from the mobile app I created was compiled along with plant specimen data from the Minnesota DNR and specialist bee location data from the University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab. After mining and cleaning the datasets, I brought them into ArcGIS to identify areas of range overlap between 8 specialist bees and their 6 native host plants, and then used a hexagon tessellation tool to create generalized overlap zones. A plotted map of the state was transferred to watercolor paper using a graphite transfer method, then hand-painted with watercolors. Bee and plant species were hand-painted at an enlarged scale to show the unique differences in appearance.

'Planting for Pollinators' by Jacqueline Kovarik
‘Planting for Pollinators’ by Jacqueline Kovarik