Distribution: analytical tools

Both the data on which distributions can be plotted or predicted, and the tools with which this can be done, are available at various sites on the internet.


Data on which to base distributions may be available locally, but generally a much more extensive data set is required to enable accurate distribution prediction and modelling.  In order to make data maximally useful the data need to be in a standard format.  Such standards are already widely used.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)  The largest source of point data and observational data, contributed by a large number of databases globally.  Not restricted to invasive species.  Data can be searched on a number of different criteria, and downloaded for analysis. 

Data standards

Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG)  TDWG was formed to establish international collaboration among biological database projects.  It has promoted the wider and more effective dissemination of information about the World's heritage of biological organisms for the benefit of the world at large. TDWG now focuses on the development of standards for the exchange of biological/biodiversity data. 

Analytical tools

Using data in a standard format there are a range of tools that deliver distributions. Currently only a few sites are listed, but more will be added as the site is developed.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)  Distribution maps based on the data mediated through GBIF are produced on site, and can be delivered to other sites.  This facility has been used on this site in the pages reachable under the ‘Invasive Species’ tab.  The GBIF site also allows the data to be downloaded as placemenrks for Google Earth.  To deliver distribution maps to Encyclopedia of Life GBIF and EoL worked with Vizzuality to create a new mapping tool.

Aquamaps  A joint project of Fishbase and SeaLifeBase, Aquamaps delivers standardised distribution maps for more than 11,500 species of fishes, marine mammals and invertebrates.  Freshwater Biodiversity Maps are also available; Freshwater Biodiversity AquaMaps is a joint project of FishBase, the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren.

Vizzuality.  A team building applications to deliver novel uses of data available through GBIF.  This includes the mapping tool mentioned above and a Protected Area Biodiversity tool.  

Environmental Niche Modelling  This refers to the process of modelling species distribution, and is also known as niche modelling, predictive habitat distribution modelling, and climate envelope modelling.  It uses a range of computer algorithms to predict the distribution of species in geographic space on the basis of a mathematical representation of their known distribution in environmental space.  Links to different software and techniques are available here.

Linkage mapper  is a GIS tool designed to support regional wildlife habitat connectivity analyses. It consists of several Python scripts, packaged as an ArcGIS toolbox, that automate mapping of wildlife habitat corridors. It was developed for the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group’s (WHCWG) 2010 statewide connectivity analysis, and is being made public for use in other wildlife connectivity assessments. 

Distribution information   

The sites below deliver distribution information including native range and known introduced range of known introduced and invasive species. 

CABI Invasive Species Compendium (ISC)  The ISC has more than 1500 datasheets and a further 7000 basic datasheets, giving identification aids of a very wide range of taxa globally. 

Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe (DAISIE)  The DAISIE database covers all taxa of marine, freshwater and terrestrial invasives in Europe. 

European Network on Invasive Alien Species (NOBANIS)  NOBANIS provides fact sheets on some of the invasive alien species of the northern European region, covering both animals and plant as well as microorganisms.

Global Invasive Species Database (GISD)  The GISD focuses on invasive alien species that threaten native biodiversity and covers all taxonomic groups from micro-organisms to animals and plants in all ecosystems. It features distribution information at country level and also at site level including protected areas and ecosystem, admin unit level, island etc.  

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith