February 7, 2012



This tool allows you to search for a species available via the Atlas  (including at higher taxonomic levels) and map their distribution. The selection of taxa (species, genus etc) uses a method called auto-complete. As you enter letters, the system searches for taxa that match what you have typed. The auto-complete function should support browsers on any system including tablets.


From the menu option, select Add To Map and then Species.



There are several options when adding species occurrences to your map, select from the following:

  • By default only records where location information has been validated is included. You are able to include occurrence data that can't be spatially validated and absence information if required.
  • Search for a species by scientific or common name.
  • Use an existing species list from the List tool.
  • Create a new list of species.
  • Import points
  • All species within a related area.


The Upload points has an additional step to upload a user’s file. Follow the links for more information.


Step 3 requires you to select an area where species occurrences will be mapped. The following options are possible:

  • If you have a predefined area already mapped, then an option is available to apply it: For example, If you have not changed the default name the option will be My Area.
  • If you have already zoomed the map into a specific area of interest, then the Current Extent option is available to show both specific species or all species in that zoomed area.
  • In the add All species option, Australia and the World are not available as defaults due to potential size problems.
  • Note the Define new area will involve an extra step (please refer to Add Area for additional information).


Press Next once the area has been defined. 


A new layer will be added to the list of layers on the left hand side of the screen and to the map, showing the selected species (or higher taxa) distribution in the area specified. For example, the following image is the distribution of the common wombat, vombatus ursinus, for the area of Australia.

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Layer editing

The layer name and other options can be edited in the legend as needed (see below).


The legend can be used to change the displayed view of the species points. You can change the colour (now called Facet), opacity and size for the points manually.


If there are a large number of facet classes, a search box will be automatically generated above the facet list in the legend. You can use this search to filter/highlight any one or more classes that interest you. Once the classes have been selected, you can create layer with selection or create layer without selection based on the filtered/highlighted classes.



See Faceting and filtering for detailed information on grouping by species attributes.


Search for a species by scientific or common name

To search for a species to add to the map, select the “Search for species by scientific or common name” radio button (this is the default).

Hint: “Species” in the Spatial Portal can be generalised to any higher taxonomic level e.g. genus, family, order or class.



Start typing the scientific or common name and a series of matching names are revealed in a drop down list. Select your required name.
If the name is not found, it may be because:

  • It may not be available yet in the Atlas.
  • It may be listed under a more recent scientific name or common name.
  • The spelling may have to be checked.


Once a name has been selected, press Next.


All known occurrences matching that name will be plotted on the map for your defined area.


The layer is added to the active layers list. This allows you to manage the various layers.


Points or Density Grids

There are two main ways to view species records – density grid and points. The user can toggle between the two views using the “Display as” radio button.  Currently the density grid is the default view for in excess of 2,000,000 occurrence records. The difference can be seen in the images below.





Species Occurrence Information pop-up

Clicking on the species point on the map (or on the density grid) will pop-up information about that occurrence and link to any related data.


If there are multiple observations for a location, you can page through the list, one occurrence record at a time by clicking on the arrow.


Species Layer Functions

After adding a species layer, a number of options are available in the left hand pane for point display. The following annotated screenshot explains these options. Density grid display only allows you to change the opacity of the grid and run a time series animation.


Spatial Uncertainty

In the points view, the spatial uncertainty of each occurrence record may be displayed as a circle centred around each point. It uses the value of each point’s location spatial uncertainty (coordinate precision) in metres. By selecting the checkbox “Display spatial uncertainty as a circle” different coloured circles and radii lengths surround each occurrence point. Note that there are many records in the Atlas that do not have a value for spatial uncertainty.

The Uncertainty Legend:

  • Uncertainty known and less than 30 km, a yellow circle is used with the actual radius of uncertainty (zooming right into the occurrence point may be necessary to detect the yellow surrounding circle).
  • Uncertainty known and greater than 30 km, a green 30 km radius circle is used.