This project aims at delivering web-based mapping and GIS tools that will make natural history collections more accessible to the specialist, including the data curators themselves, and the general public alike.
The focus of this project is to assure the quick and accurate display of point localities on maps and provide users with the ability to draw arbitrary geographic areas or upload pre-defined shapes as the geographic criteria in a network query (e.g., all specimens collected from within Yosemite National Park). We will also allow for a high level of customization, including uploading of shapefiles and annotation of maps.
Recent developments of distributed networks of natural history collections such as MaNIS and HerpNET will lead to an explosion in the availability of georeferenced specimen data. It is in anticipation of this deluge that we wish to develop a web-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tool, "DiGIR-Map," which will permit visualization and subsequent analysis of species distributions using the vast store of specimen data housed in natural history collections around the world.
The DiGIR protocol resolves problems of platform specificity, incompatibility, and structural heterogeneity between databases in use by different institutions by creating a platform-independent network that facilitates access to specimen data. The software to be developed through this project can best be thought of as an extension of DiGIR portals to allow visualization and subsequent analysis of species distributions.