GIS For Biologists: Tip #10 – How To Transfer Data Between A GPS And A GIS Project

22 May

The availability of cheap handheld GPS receivers, and indeed the inclusion of GPS receivers in almost all new smart phones and tablets, means that almost everyone can now collect high quality spatial data with a level of accuracy that was unimaginable even just a few years ago. This has opened up many new opportunities for biologists and greatly enhances their abilities to conduct spatially based research.

However, collecting accurate spatial data in the first place is only one step in successfully using such data in a GIS project. You also need to know how to be able to transfer the data you collect from your GPS receiver to your GIS project. In addition, it is also useful to know how to be able to transfer data from GIS project to your GPS receiver. This is because it allows you to design your surveys or identify your sampling locations in your GIS project, and then load this information on to your GPS receiver to help you conduct your surveys when you are in the field.

This video shows you three different ways that you can quickly and easily transfer .GPX files (which is the format used by most GPS receivers to record waypoints, tracks and routes) from your GPS to a GIS project and back again. These are: Using the ADD LAYER tool in the freely available open source GIS software QGIS, using the GPS TOOLS Plugin for QGIS, and using DNR GPS. Like QGIS, DNR GPS is free to use and, for those working with GIS software other than QGIS, it is one of the best options for converting GPS data stored in .GPX formatted files to GIS compatible shapefiles and vice versa. If you’re interested in trying it out, DNR GPS can be downloaded from here.

If you have any questions or queries about this video, feel free to comment on this post and I’ll do my best to answer them.


Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology



One Response to “GIS For Biologists: Tip #10 – How To Transfer Data Between A GPS And A GIS Project”


  1. GIS For Biologists: Tip #13 – How To Set Up A GPS Reciever To Record GIS-Compatible Biological Data | GIS In Ecology - 12/06/2015

    […] shows how to set up a GPS receiver to collect GIS compatible biological data. This follows on from Tip #10 in this series, which shows how to transfer data between a GPS receiver and a GIS […]

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