Bald Eagle Foraging Habitats Along the James River in Missouri: Protection From Human Developments

Date of Graduation

Fall 1998


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Burl Self Jr.


Contamination, persecution, and habitat destruction have been responsible for the decline of bald eagles. This thesis analyzes fish samples for contaminants and uses Landsat Thematic Mapper remote sensing data to determing preferred bald eagle foraging habitats along the James River in Missouri. Fish samples collected were tested for 12 organochlorines and nine metals including lead and mercury. The sampling sites' micrograms/gram of fish of these contaminants were ranked using the Mann-Whitney U Test. There was no difference between the upper and the lower James River. The DDT metabolite which had caused thinning in the bald eagles' eggshells, DDE, had zero sampling sites above the guideline set by Blus. Metals which had caused problems in other areas of the United States for bald eagles were either below the guidelines set by Rainbow, Furness, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the United States Food and Drug Administration or were nondetectable. Mercury was nondetectable at all sampling sites. Analyses of wooded areas along the James River were identified by classifying 30-meter resolution pixels. Pixels were classified as water, oak/hickory/red cedar, major roads, dirt/gravel roads, urban character/country roads, quarry/outcrop, coal, and open space or as mix pixels, for example, water with trees, water willows, and gravel bars within the river. Remote sensing maps indicated favorable edges and wooded areas for bald eagle foraging habitats by the use of a white-stippled pattern over these areas. For protection of these preferred bald eagle habitats, a James River Scenic Riverway is proposed.

Subject Categories

Earth Sciences


© Susan Carol Smith