Challenges Building Online GIS Services to Support Global Biodiversity Mapping and Analysis: Lessons from the Mountain and Plains Database and Informatics project.

Robert P Guralnick, David Neufeld


We argue that distributed mapping and analysis of biodiversity information becoming available on global distributed networks is a lynchpin activity linking together research and development challenges in biodiversity informatics. Online mapping is a core activity because it allows users to visually explore the spatial context of biodiversity information and quickly assemble the datasets needed to ask and answer biodiversity research and management questions. We make the case that a free, online global biodiversity mapping tool utilizing distributed species occurrence records is now within reach and discuss how such a system can be built using existing technology. We also discuss additional challenges and solutions given experiences building a regional distributed GIS tool called MaPSTeDI (Mountain and Plains Spatio-Temporal Database and Informatics Initiative). We focus on solutions to three challenges in particular: Returning result queries in a reasonable amount of time given network limitations; Accessing multiple data sources using different transmission mechanisms; Scaling from a solution for a handful of data providers to hundreds or thousands of providers. We close by discussing the future challenges and potential solutions for integrating analysis tools into distributed mapping applications.


Web services, online GIS, biodiversity mapping, visualization, geoinformatics, spatial analysis, Mapstedi

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Copyright (c) 2005 Robert P Guralnick, David Neufeld

Biodiversity Informatics. ISSN: 1546-9735
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