Free software for landscape ecology

Ecological Informatics journal

Last year Stefan Steiniger and Geoffrey Hay published an interesting article in Ecological Informatics: Free and open source geographic information tools for landscape ecology. They introduce the concepts of free, and open-source, software and provide examples of the kinds of spatiallandscape ecology problems that can be tackled using a variety of the tools available. I think the best bits are the several tables, which provide links to many of the free GIS packages available.

There are several highly-developed spatial packages in R

R has several spatial analysis packages

The ever-expanding open-source geospatial community provides an interesting alternative to the industry heavyweight, ESRI, who plan to release the latest version of their ArcGIS package later this year. Perhaps this partly explains the unusual enthusiasm with which the open-source geospatial movement is promoted.

James Cheshire’s post on free GIS resources makes an interesting companion to this post.

Peat goes Wiki

One of the many highlights of last week’s PeatNet conference, for me, was the introduction of WikiPEATia – a new platform built at CSRC at the University of New Hampshire. WikiPEATia uses a Google Earth interface to display spatial data on peatland coverage, basal dates, and climate.

WikiPEATia in action

WikiPEATia in action

The project aims to bring together peatland datasets through crowdsourcing, so that they can be shared by a global community of researchers. The project is still at an early stage, with coverage focussed on the northern hemisphere, but this is set to change with time as more peatland researchers become aware of the project and submit their data. I’m hopeful that one of the outcomes of projects such as this one will be greater consensus within the peatland science community concerning, for example, what we define as a peatland.