Keywords: biodiversity, Geographical Information Systems, terrain, visualisation, GIS
The use of Geographical Information Systems for analysing and visualising biodiversity data
Technology plays a key role in innovative research and it is important that environmental scientists are aware of technologies that are having an impact on their discipline. This paper demonstrates the importance of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for biodiversity management and research using three powerful analysis functions and a species presence/absence database. The three analysis functions are: data integration, terrain analysis and data visualisation. Data integration functions enable the environmental characteristics of a species location to be known and therefore provide information on species habitat. An important environmental determinant of species habitat is terrain and the identification of three terrain indices (micro, meso and macro) is demonstrated. GIS visualisation techniques make tabular data easier to understand, highlight general trends and can be a stimulus for research. This research highlights a need for coordination and leadership in biodiversity information management so that researchers can easily access this data.