Tag Archives: GIS In Ecology

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.

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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. 

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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Paper Of The Week: Lin et al. 2015. Classification of Tree Species in Overstorey Canopy of Subtropical Forest Using QuickBird Images

3 Jun

Remote sensing has become an integral part of using GIS in biological research, and this week’s paper of the week is a nice example of how just how detailed the information you can get from remote sensing can be. This paper is Lin et al. (2015) from PLoS One and is titled ‘Classification of Tree Species in Overstorey Canopy of Subtropical Forest Using QuickBird Images‘. In it, the authors set out to see if they could take high spatial resolution satellite imagery and use them to identify individual trees to the species level in a sub-tropical forest in Taiwan.

This may sound like an unlikely thing to be able to do, but it’s based on the idea that the leaves of different species of trees will reflect different wave lengths of light in slightly different ways, and while it takes some fairly fancy processing, it turn out that it’s possible. In fact, with the right images and the right processing, Lin et al. were able to separate out 40 different species of trees with a pretty high level of accuracy.

While this is impressive stuff in its own right, this isn’t the only reason I selected it as my paper of the week. I also selected it because of the potential that this type of processing offers to biologists. Through the processing and analysis of high spatial resolution images, it should possible to pull out almost any type of information that a biologist might ever need to know.

One example of this is something I’ve been pondering for some time now. This is how to assess the productivity of trees in an oak woodland as part of a study of breeding success in hole-nesting birds. The research question here is whether breeding success is related to the number of caterpillars found in the territory which surrounds each nest box. Now, measuring the number of caterpillars found around 300 nest boxes is just not feasible, but given that the number of caterpillars should be related to the productivity of the trees on which they are feeding, so this could be used as a proxy, and using the type of processing of high spatial resolution satellite imagery done by Lin et al. (2015) potentially provides a way to extract this information automatically. I haven’t yet had the chance to see whether this is, indeed, the case, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go (or more likely finding an eager student and persuading them into taking the project on!)

So, I think the take home point from this week’s paper is that it’s impressive just how much information can be extracted from high spatial resolution satellite images, and in many cases, all that’s needed is a bit of imagination, followed up by some intense work as you work out exactly how to pull out just the information you require to help you answer your research questions.

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Dr Colin D. MacLeod,
Founder, GIS In Ecology
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