New Book – ‘GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates’

24 Jan

GIS For Biologists - CoverGIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates is a new book by GIS In Ecology‘s founder Colin D. MacLeod.

It provides background information on using GIS in biological research as well as six practical exercises specifically created to help biologists learn how to use GIS in daily lives.

The instructions for these practical exercises are provided for both ESRI’s ArcGIS For Desktop 10.3 (the most widely used commercial GIS software package) and QGIS 2.8.3 – the leading open source, and so freely available, GIS software.

As well as providing the perfect practical exercises for any biologist interested in learning how to use GIS, this book is also well-suited for those who wish to teach GIS, but who do not have the time to develop their own course content.

This book is supported by a dedicated GIS For Biologists webpage which provides helpful information on where to get your preferred GIS software, how to download and install it, and how to download the data used in the practical exercises in the book, as well as links to free short videos which have been created to accompany the book’s contents.

GIS For Biologists is available to purchase as a paperback or as a kindle ebook (although due to its fixed page format, it is only available on devices and Kindle apps with ‘pinch and zoom’ capabilities). Free previews of the contents can be downloaded from the book’s homepage.

From The Back Of The book:

This book provides a user-friendly and practical introduction for undergraduates to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in biological research. Unlike most other books about using GIS, this information is specifically presented in a biological context and it is divided into two sections.

The first section provides just enough background information to allow the novice biological GIS user to get started with GIS without getting too bogged down in the theory behind it or making some of the most common mistakes made by beginners. It covers areas such as what GIS is, why GIS is useful in biology, the basics of GIS, common concepts and terms in GIS, how data are contained in a GIS, useful information about what to think about before starting a GIS project and how to break down and translate biological tasks into the language of GIS. This information is all provided in easy-to-read and non-technical language, with specific reference to its application in biological research.

The second section, which constitutes the main body of the book, consists of six practical exercises accompanied by detailed instruction sets. The first four exercises introduce the novice biological GIS user to basic, but important, GIS skills, such as making a map, creating new feature data layers, creating raster data layers and joining together data from different data layers. The final two consist of case studies of how GIS can be used to answer real biological research questions. Each of these exercises represents a stand-alone GIS lesson which can be completed either on its own or as part of a practical session for an undergraduate class. In addition, each exercise focuses on a different area of biology, such as tropical ornithology, epidemiology, marine biology and rainforest ecology, and on a different part of the world, including the Amazon rainforest, a Scottish field station, Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique, the North Atlantic Ocean and the USA. Instructions for each exercise are provided for both the leading commercial GIS package (ESRI’s ArcGIS® 10.3 software) and the leading freely available open-source GIS software (QGIS 2.8.3, also known as Quantum GIS), meaning that this book can be used to learn, or teach, how to use GIS in biological research, regardless of the availability of commercial software licences.

Taken together, the two sections of this book provide the perfect primer to show undergraduates, and other novice GIS users, how useful GIS can be in biological research, why it is rapidly becoming a key skill in many areas of biology, and how to start using it.

The PSLS series of books uses Task-Oriented Learning (TOL) to teach the practical application of research skills to the life sciences. This involves demonstrating how these skills can be used in the specific circumstances in which they are likely to be required, rather than concentrating on teaching theoretical frameworks or on teaching skills in a generic or abstract manner. By seeing how the similar processes are used to achieve a variety of different goals within a specific field, it becomes easier for the reader to identify the general rules behind the practical application of these processes and, therefore, to transfer them to novel situations they may encounter in the future.

***Please Note: Links to the Amazon listing provided in this post are affiliate links. This means that I will receive a small percentage of any purchases made after following these links. This helps support the existence of this blog. If you do not wish this to happen, click here to go to the Amazon listing directly.***


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