What’s New In GIS And Biological Research: 23 March 2015

23 Mar

There have been a number of interesting software releases, blog posts and articles in the last week which are likely to be of interest to those using GIS for biological research.

Firstly, for those working in the marine environment, ESRI has released a new add-in tool called Dimension Explorer. The aim of this tool is to make it easier to work with time-aware multi-dimensional data in their ArcGIS software, something which has always been a bit problematic in the past. If you want to check it out, you can find their blog post about this release here.

Secondly, there’s an interesting blog post from Michele Goe which outlines how to deal with the situation when data from different data sets do not line up properly in your GIS project. This can be a common issue when working with some data sets, and Michele provides some nice tips on what to do to fix it. Click here to read this post.

Another interesting post from ESRI which I came across this week is this one about their Web GIS and Esri’s Massive Global Library of Content. This has the potential to bring a lot of data together and make it easily accessible for biologists and ecologists, and it’s something which will be well worth both checking out now, and keeping an eye on in the future to see how it develops.

Over at Ecosource, there’s a nice post about how to import GIS data into GRASS (one of the open source GIS software packages that is accessible either as a stand along package, or integrated into QGIS). If you’re interested in learning more about how to do GIS directly in GRASS, then this tutorial is a good starting point.

Related to the Ecosource post is the release of the next generation soil information system for Afrca. This provides information on soil as raster data layers with a 250m resolution for the whole of Africa. This is potentially a very useful source of data for anyone working in Africa.

In terms of accessing existing data layers, Phil Mike Jones has a nice article on his blog with some useful links on where to find existing shapefiles, and if you’re looking for data sources, it may well be worth checking these links out.

Finally, if you’re interested in doing GIS in the free programming software R, there’s a tutorial on using Leaflet, a new R package for visualising spatial data and making maps on ComputerWorld.com. I’ve never attempted to use R to do GIS, but the possibility has always interested be as I know a lot of biologists are already familiar with it as it is wildly used for statistical analyses.

So these are the things that have caught my eye this week on the web. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list and there will be a lot out there that I’m missed, but these are the ones that I thought might be useful for ecologists and biologists.

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Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology
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