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First Call: An Introduction To Using GIS In Biological Research, Glasgow, 25-26 September 2017

10 Jul
GIS In Ecology will be holding an introductory training course for those who wish to learn how to use GIS in biological research, and it will provide an introduction to using GIS in a wide variety of biological research situations ranging from the basics of making maps through to studying the spread of diseases and creating maps of species biodiversity. It will consist of a series of background sessions on using GIS mixed in with practical sessions where you will work directly with GIS software to complete various tasks which biological researchers commonly need to be able to do.

The course will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 25th and 26th of September 2017, and it will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, who has more than 15 years experience in using GIS for a wide variety of biological purposes. For those who cannot attend this course in person, a shorter online course based on the same materials is available at GISforBiologists.com.

The course will primarily be based around QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS), which provides a user-friendly, open-source, free alternative to commercial GIS software packages, and it is becoming increasingly widely used in both academic and commercial organisations  As a result, it is aimed at both those with no GIS experience, but wish to learn how to do GIS with QGIS, and also those who are familiar with using commercial GIS software, such as ArcGIS, but who wish to learn how to use QGIS as an alternative. However, this course is taught using  software-independent approach, and it is also open to those who wish to learn how to use ArcGIS to do biological GIS.

The practical exercises on this course will be based on those in the recently published GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates  by Dr MacLeod, and a free copy of this book will be provided to all participants.

Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 15 people, and the course will cost £295 per person (£200 for students, the unwaged and those working for registered charities). To book a place, or for more information, email info@GISinEcology.com.

Glasgow has great transport links and is within half a days travel by car or by fast train links from most cities in the UK. For example, it can be reached in as little as 4h 30mins from London by train. It can also be reached by direct flights from many European cities and the flight time is generally under four hours.

The course will be held in central Glasgow at the IET Glasgow Teacher Building (14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, G1 4DB, UK).

Attendees will be responsible for their own accommodation. However, Glasgow provides a wide range of accommodation options to fit most budgets.

New Online GIS Course For Biologists From GIS In Ecology

11 May

We’ve been running our in-person courses for just over five years now, and these have always proved very popular, but over this time we have been receiving an ever-increasing number of requests to make our courses available online for those who cannot afford to travel to Scotland to do them. This is an issue that we have always been very aware of, and it was something we were keen to try to do something about. Well, after a couple of years in development, we are finally in a position to do so, and I’m pleased to be able to say that we have just launched our very first online course.

This online course provides a basic, but practical, introduction to using GIS in biological research and is aimed at the complete beginner who needs a hand working out where to get started. It’s hosted on our new sister site GISforBiologists.com, and consists of just over three hours of on-demand videos which take you through all you need to know to make your first map, create your own feature data layers and work with raster data layers. We estimate that completing the course (which includes reading the background materials, watching the videos and completing the exercises) will take around nine hours, although the exact amount of time it takes will vary from person to person, and some will undoubtedly complete it much more quickly.

The practical exercises in the course are based around those found in our book GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates and cover the same content as you would be taught on the first day of our ever-popular in-person course An Introduction To Using QGIS In Biological Research. A subscription to the videos costs US$30 and lasts for three months, giving you more than enough time to complete all three exercises. You do have to purchase a copy of the book separately (although you could probably get away with just working from the videos), but this still represents a substantial saving on learning the same GIS skills on our in-person course (which would costs up to £295 in course fees, as well as travel and accommodation costs).

The software which is used for the course is QGIS, and we selected it for this online course because it is freely available, meaning that there is no additional cost for software licences for those who wish to learn how to use GIS in biological research. It is also the software package that we recommend novice biological GIS users start with. However, the skills that you learn can be easily transferred to other GIS software packages, including ArcGIS, the leading commercial one.

This course represents the start of a new phase in the development of GIS In Ecology, and we aim to make more of our training materials available online through GISforBiologists.com over the next year or so. By doing this, we hope to further promote the use of GIS as an important tool for the modern-day biologist, no matter where in the world they are working, or what field they are working in.

Final Call: Training Course – QGIS For Biologists, 27-28 March 2017

19 Feb

Training Course – An Introduction To Using QGIS In Biological Research

GIS In Ecology will be holding an introductory training course for those who wish to learn how to use the free, open-source GIS software QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS) in all aspects of biological research. The course will be held in Glasgow on the 27th and 28th of March 2017, and it will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, who has more than 15 years experience in using GIS for a wide variety of biological purposes.

This course is aimed at those just starting to use GIS in their research and who have little or no existing knowledge of this subject area, those who are looking for a free, open source GIS solution for their biological research, and at existing users of commercial GIS software, such as ArcGIS, who wish to learn how to do GIS using QGIS software.

The practical exercises on this course will be based on those in the recently published ‘GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates’ by Dr MacLeod, and a free copy of this book will be provided to all participants.

Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 15 people, and the course will cost £295 per person (£200 for students, the unwaged and those working for registered charities). To book a place, or for more information, email info@GISinEcology.com.

To attend this course, you must bring your own laptop computer and have a working copy of QGIS 2.8.3 pre-installed on it. You can find information about how to get this software package by searching QGIS in any web browser. At the end of the course, all attendees will receive a certificate of attendance and completion.

Glasgow has great transport links and is within half a days travel by car or by fast train links from most cities in the UK. For example, it can be reached in as little as 4h 30mins from London by train. It can also be reached by direct flights from many European cities and the flight time is generally under four hours.

The course will be held in central Glasgow at the IET Glasgow Teacher Building (14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, G1 4DB, UK).

Attendees will be responsible for their own accommodation. However, Glasgow provides a wide range of accommodation options to fit most budgets.

Final Call: Training Course – QGIS For Biologists, September 2016

29 Aug
Final Call: Training Course – An Introduction To Using QGIS In Biological Research
GIS In Ecology will be holding an introductory training course for those who wish to learn how to use the free, open-source GIS software QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS) in all aspects of biological research. The course will be held in Glasgow on the 19th and 20th of September 2016, and it will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, who has more than 15 years experience in using GIS for a wide variety of biological purposes.

This course is aimed at those just starting to use GIS in their research and who have little or no existing knowledge of this subject area, those who are looking for a free, open source GIS solution for their biological research, and at existing users of commercial GIS software, such as ArcGIS, who wish to learn how to do GIS using QGIS software.

The practical exercises on this course will be based on those in the recently published ‘GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates’ by Dr MacLeod, and a free copy of this book will be provided to all participants.

Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 15 people, and the course will cost £295 per person (£200 for students, the unwaged and those working for registered charities). To book a place, or for more information, visit the course’s webpage (http://www.gisinecology.com/Training_Course_QGIS_For_Biologists_September_2016.htm) or contact info@GISinEcology.com.

To attend this course, you must bring your own laptop computer and have a working copy of QGIS 2.8.3 pre-installed on it. You can find information about how to get this version of QGIS by visiting http://www.gisinecology.com/GFB.htm. At the end of the course, all attendees will receive a certificate of attendance and completion.

Glasgow has great transport links and is within half a days travel by car or by fast train links from most cities in the UK.  For example, it can be reached in as little as 4h 30mins from London by train. It can also be reached by direct flights from many European cities and the flight time is generally under four hours.

The course will be held in central Glasgow at the IET Glasgow Teacher Building (14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, G1 4DB, UK).

Attendees will be responsible for their own accommodation. However, Glasgow provides a wide range of accommodation options to fit most budgets. 

Final Call: Training Course – QGIS For Biologists, March 2016

5 Feb

Training Course – An Introduction To Using QGIS In Biological Research

GIS In Ecology will be holding an introductory training course for those who wish to learn how to use the free, open-source GIS software QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS) in all aspects of biological research. The course will be held in Glasgow on the 21st and 22nd of March 2016, and it will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, who has more than 15 years experience in using GIS for a wide variety of biological purposes.

This course is aimed at those just starting to use GIS in their research and who have little or no existing knowledge of this subject area, those who are looking for a free, open source GIS solution for their biological research, and at existing users of commercial GIS software, such as ArcGIS, who wish to learn how to do GIS using QGIS software.

The practical exercises on this course will be based on those in the recently published ‘GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates’ by Dr MacLeod, and a free copy of this book will be provided to all participants.

Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 15 people, and the course will cost £295 per person (£200 for students, the unwaged and those working for registered charities). To book a place, or for more information, contact info@GISinEcology.com.

To attend this course, you must bring your own laptop computer and have a working copy of QGIS 2.8.3 pre-installed on it. You can find information about how to get this software package by searching QGIS in any web browser. At the end of the course, all attendees will receive a certificate of attendance and completion.

Glasgow has great transport links and is within half a days travel by car or by fast train links from most cities in the UK. For example, it can be reached in as little as 4h 30mins from London by train. It can also be reached by direct flights from many European cities and the flight time is generally under four hours.

The course will be held in central Glasgow at the IET Glasgow Teacher Building (14 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, G1 4DB, UK).

Attendees will be responsible for their own accommodation. However, Glasgow provides a wide range of accommodation options to fit most budgets.

GIS For Biologists: Tips #20 – #23 How To Set Up And Use A Smart Phone As A GPS To Collect Spatial Data For Biological Research

15 Dec

The Global Positioning System, or GPS for short, is a system of satellites which transmit radio signals that can be used to work out where you are any where in the world. While it has been around for military use for a number of decades, it was only with the introduction of small, cheap, commercially available GPS receivers in the late 1990s and early 2000s that the GPS system became widely used for collecting spatial data for biological research.

This has been a great boost for those interested in all aspects of spatial ecology, but the purchase of a dedicated GPS receiver is still a barrier to the use of GPS for collection of highly accurate spatial data for many undergrad students, doctoral candidates and those interested in contributing to citizen science projects.

In the last few years, though, sensors capable of receiving the signals from the Global Positioning System have become ubiquitous in a wide variety of consumer goods, and particularly in smart phones. This means that, with the right app, the smart phone that most of us already carry in our pockets can be turned into a fully functioning GPS receiver.

However, just because they are easy to install and get running, this doesn’t mean that correctly setting up your chosen app to collect high quality spatial information for use in biological research is necessarily straight forward, and indeed, special care needs to be taken to ensure that you have selected all the appropriate settings both for the app, and for your phone’s internal operating system, before you start use it to collect any biological data.

If you don’t do these checks, then you may well find that any data you collect aren’t of sufficient quality to be used in your research, and that can range from being mildly annoying to totally devastating depending exactly how important your data are to your research.

Luckily, it’s not difficult to ensure that your GPS app and your smart phone are both set up correctly, and the videos in this article will take you through all the steps you need to follow to ensure you get this right.

While an Android phone and the GPS Essentials app (which can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store by clicking here) are used in these demonstrations, you will need to do similar steps with all similar apps, and smart phones with other operating systems. If, however, you’re using an Android smart phone, then GPS Essenstials is the GPS app we here at GIS In Ecology would recommend.

So without further ado, on to the videos. These will take you all the way from downloading and installing your chosen app, through how to set it up, and then how to use it to start collecting high quality spatial data.

1. GIS For Biologists: Tip #20 – How To Install An App To Turn A Smart Phone Into A GPS Receiver:

2. GIS For Biologists: Tip #21 – How To Record A Waypoint On A Smart Phone Using The GPS Essentials App:

3. GIS For Biologists: Tip #22 – How To Record A Track On A Smart Phone Using The GPS Essentials App:

4. GIS For Biologists: Tip #23 – How To Set Your Smart Phone To Record High Resolution Spatial Data:

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.

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Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology
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GIS For Biologists: Tips #17 – #19 Creating Custom Polygon Fills, Symbols And Styles For QGIS

11 Dec

QGIS is the leading open source, and so free-to-download, GIS software package that is available for biologists to use. However, one of the reasons that many biologists have not yet taken it up is because of the basic options for changing the way that information in data layers are displayed that come with QGIS.

At first, this does seem problematic, but you shouldn’t let it put you off using this rather brilliant tool for biological research. In fact, when you look into it, it’s actually very easy to make your own custom polygon fills, symbols and styles, and within a few short minutes you can create almost any polygon fill, symbol and style that you could ever need, or even imagine.

In addition, simply by saving a custom style file with the same name as your data layer and in the same folder on your computer, QGIS will automatically use these settings each and every time you use that data layer! This is a real bonus, and more than pays back the time taken to create the custom style in the first place.

So, how do you create your own custom polygon fills, symbols and styles for use in QGIS? Well the three videos below will show you just how easy this is.

1. GIS For Biologists: Tip #17 – How To Create Custom Polygon Fills Styles For Use In QGIS:

2. GIS For Biologists: Tip #18 – How To Make Your Own Custom Symbols For Use In GIS Projects:

3. GIS For Biologists: Tip #19 – How To Create And Use Custom Style Files In QGIS:

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.

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Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology
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