Tag Archives: GIS For Ecologists

Upcoming Courses From GIS In Ecology: ‘Home Range Analyses’, ‘Creating Custom GIS Tools’ and ‘Using QGIS In Biological Research’

5 Jan

GIS In Ecology will be running three GIS courses for biologists/ecologists over the next few months. These courses will be held in Glasgow in Scotland, and will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, a biological researcher with more than 15 years experience in using GIS. These courses are:

1. An Introduction To Investigating The Home Ranges Of Individual Animals (15 – 16 February 2016): This course will provide an introduction to investigating the home ranges of individual animals using a GIS-based approach. It will cover how to create a minimum convex polygon (MCP), how to create a kernel density estimate (KDE) in environments with and without barriers to movements, how to create 50 and 95% percentage volume contours (PVCs) and how to select an appropriate bandwidth/h value. This course is aimed at anyone who wishes to use GIS to study the home ranges of animals in either the terrestrial or aquatic environments, even if they have little or no existing knowledge of GIS. It will primarily use ArcGIS software, but it will also cover the use of ArcMET and Geospatial Modelling Environment (GME) for home range analyses. Duration: 2 days. Cost: £295 (£200 for students, unwaged and those working for NGOs). Places will be limited to a maximum of 15 people and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. For more information on this course, visit www.gisinecology.com/Training_Course_Home_Range_February_2016.htm or email info@GISinEcology.com. Places can also be booked through this email address.

2. An Introduction To Creating Custom GIS Tools For Biological Research (17 – 18 February 2016): This course will provide an introduction to the creation of custom GIS tools for use in all areas of biological research. Creating custom GIS tools for biological research allows you not only to automate frequently repeated tasks (saving time and reducing the risk of accidental processing errors), but it also allows non-GIS specialists to process and analyse data using standard protocols in a GIS-based environment by running a single easy-to-use tool. This means that creating custom GIS tool provides an effective way of expanding the pool of individuals within a research group or organisation who can carry out specific and complex GIS tasks. The course will consist of background session which will explain the principles of creating your own custom GIS tools, as well as practical exercises in which a number of example tools will be built and tested. There will also be the option of building your own custom tool to automate a task of your choice. This course assumes that you have at least a basic knowledge of GIS and is not aimed at complete beginners. It will use the ModelBuilder module of ESRI’s ArcGIS software to show how biologists can create custom GIS tools for use in their research. Duration: 2 days. Cost: £295 (£200 for students, unwaged and those working for NGOs). Places will be limited to a maximum of 15 people and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. For more information on this course, visit www.gisinecology.com/Training_Course_Custom_GIS_Tools_February_2016.htm or email info@GISinEcology.com. Places can also be booked through this email address.

3. An Introduction To Using QGIS In Biological Research (21 – 22 March 2016): QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS) is the leading, open source, and so freely available, GIS software (see http://www.qgis.org/en/site/about/index.html for more information), which can be run on Windows, Mac OS and Linux operating systems. This course will provide an introduction to the use of QGIS in biological research. It 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. Duration: 2 days. Cost: £295 (£200 for students, unwaged and those working for NGOs). Places will be limited to a maximum of 15 people and will be filled on a first come, first served basis. For more information on this course, visit www.gisinecology.com/Training_Course_QGIS_For_Biologists_March_2016.htm or email info@GISinEcology.com. Places can also be booked through this email address.

Finally, there are also a very limited number of spaces still available on our January 2016 courses titled ‘An Introduction To Using GIS In Marine Biology’ (18 – 20 January 2016) and ‘An introduction To Using Species Distribution Modelling In the Marine Environment’ (21 – 22 January 2016). For more information on these courses, visit www.gisinecology.com/Training_Course_Glasgow_January_2016.htm, or email info@GISinEcology.com. Places can also be booked through this email address.

GIS For Biologists: Tip #16 – The ‘Shapefile Approach’ Vs The ‘Geodatabase Approach’ To GIS

10 Dec

There are two basic ways to do structure and store your GIS data. These are the ‘Shapefile Approach’ and the Geodatabase Approach’.

The Shapefile Approach uses the almost-universally accessible shapefile format for vector data layers (and similarly widely used formats for raster data layers) to store data layers in a single folder, usually on the C: drive of your computer (if you are running a Windows operating system). This information can then be accessed with almost any GIS software package.

In contrast, the Geodatabase Approach is specific to ESRI’s ArcGIS software package. In it, all the data layers in a GIS project are stored in a single, specially formatted geodatabase file on your computer and can only be accessed with ArcGIS.

This video discusses the advantages and disadvantages of these two approaches for those who want to use GIS in biological research.

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: Tip #15 – ArcGIS Vs QGIS: Which Is Better For Biologists?

26 Jun

When selecting GIS software, there are two main choices for biologists. These are the commercial package ArcGIS and the open-source, freely available package QGIS. This video provides a brief comparison of some of the key benefits and limitations of these two alternatives, and provides advice on which is best for biologists.

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: Tip #14 – How To Install Plugins To Extend The Functionality Of QGIS

19 Jun

QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS) is the leading open-source, and so freely available, GIS software package currently available. As it is open-source, this measn that it is easy for people to develop additional bits of software to extend its functionality. These are known as plugins. Plugins can be located and installed through the Plugins Manager, which in turn can be accessed through the Plugins menu on the main menu bar. There are a wide variety of plugins available, and if there is something which you wish to do in QGIS and you cannot find an existing tool to do it, the chances are that there will be a plugin that will allow you to complete your task. This includes things like doing spatial queries, nearest neighbour joins, placing the vertices of features at locations defined by a specific set of cooridnates and doing viewshed analyses.

Working with plugins in QGIS is relatively straight-forward, and this video shows you how to download and install any of the many different plugins which are available for using with 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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GIS For Biologists: Tip #13 – How To Set Up A GPS Reciever To Record GIS-Compatible Biological Data

12 Jun

The availability of cheap, handheld GPS receivers has brought the ability to collect high quality spatial data within the reach of almost every biologist. However, if wish to record biological data that can be used in a GIS project, you need to ensure that your GPS receiver is set up correctly before you start collecting your data. Using a Garmin eTrex for illustration, this video 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 project.

 

 

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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Upcoming GIS Courses From GIS In Ecology

21 May

GIS In Ecology will be running two courses in August 2015. These courses will be held at our regular venue in Glasgow City Centre in Scotland. The two courses which we will be running are:

An Introduction To Using GIS In Marine Biology (17 – 19 August 2015): This is a three day course aimed at GIS beginners and it provides a practical introduction to using GIS in marine biology. It will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, the founder of GIS In Ecology, and author of An Introduction To Using GIS In Marine Biology. It is primarily aimed at users of ESRI’s ArcGIS software (other courses are available for QGIS users). This course costs £395 per person (or £300 for students, the unwaged or those working for registered charities). You can find out more about this course by clicking here.

An Introduction To Species Distribution Modelling In The Marine Environment (20 – 21 August 2015): This is a two day course, which follows immediately after the introductory GIS course, provides an introduction to all aspects of running a successful species distribution modelling study in the marine environment, including practical sessions which will work through a species distribution modelling (SDM) project from start to finish. It is aimed at those with at least a basic knowledge of GIS (such as that gained during the introductory course mentioned above) and it will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, the founder of GIS In Ecology. It is primarily aimed at users of ESRI’s ArcGIS software (for the GIS elements of the course), and R statistical software (for the modelling elements).

This course costs £295 per person (or £200 for students, the unwaged or those working for registered charities). The practical elements of this course will be based on An Introduction To Using GIS In Marine Biology: Supplementary Workbook Three: Integrating GIS And Species Distribution Modelling, and those attending will receive a free copy of this book. You can find out more about this course by clicking here.

NOTE: This is not a statistics course, rather it concentrates on the practical elements which are needed to integrate GIS and SDM, and all the practical steps you need to take to complete an SDM project, regardless of the statistical approach you wish to use.

If you are interested in signing up for one both of these course, or would simply like some more information, please email info@GISinEcology.com with the subject line: August 2015 Courses.

GIS For Biologists: Tip #3 – What Are Projections And Why Are They Important In GIS?

16 Mar

One of the most important concepts that biologists need to get their head round to successfully use GIS in their research is that of projections. Projections are mathematical transformations that allow the curved surface of the Earth to be displayed on the flat two-dimensional surface of a map or screen. All projections produce distortions of some kind, and this means that you need to make sure you select the correct projection for any given GIS project. However, the very idea of what projections do is something that biologists often struggle to get their heads around.

This video uses the Google Earth interface to provide an easy to follow introduction to projections and why they are important in GIS. By looking at things from a global perspective, It shows how distortions increase the further you get form the centre of a projection and why it is important to make sure you select one that is appropriate for the size, shape and location of your specific study area.

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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