Maps and Mappers of the 2023 Calendar – Gretchen Williams – October

Tell Us About Yourself

I am currently a GIS Technician working in the private sector. I hold a B.S. in Geology from Montana State University, where I took three semesters of GIS. While I thoroughly enjoyed those courses, I did not yet imagine myself as a budding GIS professional. A couple years later I found myself working as an exploration geologist and picked up the GIS responsibilities for the company – that’s when it clicked! GIS work plays to my strengths and I feel I am hitting my stride when analyzing and mapping spatial data. It thrills me to put my artistic and graphic design talents/interests to use in creating maps and visuals that may help others to better understand the world around them.

Tell us the story behind your map:

Tell us about the Tools, data, etc., that you used to make the map
I had stumbled across some amazing citizen science data related to mushroom foraging (my absolute favorite hobby) on that is available for download, and immediately wanted to use it in a map. Morels, of the genus Morchella, generally fruit in the spring and are rather picky (possibly just in my opinion) about their fruiting conditions – specific conditions of temperature, humidity, proximity to water, and availability of woody biomass all influence where morels are likely to be found. Other regional and continental scale factors also come into play, including elevation and climate. My map is intended to be a visual and inspire insight on the fruiting patterns of morel mushrooms across time and geographic location.

Tell us about the Tools, data, etc., that you used to make the map:

The mushroom sighting data from The Great Morel was available for download as a KML, which I processed in ArcGIS Pro. Mushroom sighting locations were available from 2017 and on, and the data was timestamped, which enabled me to filter by month for the map. The data represented for each month on the map includes morel sighting locations during that month for the years 2017-2022. If I were to create more maps based on this data, I’d want to separate each year and analyze a larger time frame to see how fruiting patterns have changed temporally or geographically over the past 7 years. Many data points also had a picture of the mushroom(s) and an attached note about specific weather or environmental conditions (which I thought was too cool and had to include an example on the map!).

To create the map area I generated a 100-mile buffer of polyline data for the Appalachian Trail. Morels can be found across most of the US but are particularly concentrated in the eastern United States.





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