Lee Belbin, August 2019

There are several sources of location data in the Spatial Portal, some of which are available in other Atlas of Living Australia tools. To make the most of this locational information, you need to know the various forms of location data and how each form is accessed.

Types of ‘Location’ Information

There are six types of location data available in the ALA’s Spatial Portal and a subset are available in other ALA portals:

  1. Darwin Core location terms (https://dwc.tdwg.org/terms/) within the occurrence records in the ALA – these terms allow you to filter records in the Spatial Portal and elsewhere and search within a downloaded dataset for locations expressed with the terms.  
  2. Species areas that may be additional to the Darwin Core data – this may be an area defined by a species checklist or an expert distribution for a species
  3. Spatial Intersections of the ALA’s occurrence records with the Spatial Portal’s environmental and contextual layers – this is useful for answering the question: what is the area in which a species record occurs
  4. The Spatial Portal’s gazetteer – this option can be used to select an area associated with any named areas
  5. Google Map services – this is useful if you need to use the google services to find the location you are interested in. For example, if know the address of a location or the name of a business at the location
  6. Cross Tabulations.


How Can Location Data Be Used?

The Spatial Portal can be used to answer 2 primary questions:

  1. Where does this thing occur?
  2. What things occur in this area?

The first component corresponds to the menu options Add to map | Species and Add to map | Area.

The second question focuses on location as there are many options for defining and using locations in the Spatial Portal, ranging from drawing polygon areas to transforming gazetteer locations into areas. Even sets of occurrence records in the ALA can be transformed into areas based on where the observations were made.

Once you have an area defined (remember that “area” can be multiple polygons), you can generate area reports that list what information the ALA has about those areas; an interactive one (Tools | Area report – interactive: See Figure 1) and one that is more comprehensive (and takes longer) and produces a PDF file (Tools | Area report – PDF). A separate case study will be written to cover how to use the area reports, but the type of information reported includes:

  • Area in square kilometres
  • Number of occurrence records
  • Number of species
  • Number of endemic species (species where we have records that only occur within the area)
  • Number of ‘expert distributions’ intersecting the area
  • Number of species checklists that intersect the area
  • Number of JournalMap papers that refer to the area
  • Number of Australian Gazetteer Placenames in the area
  • Number of ‘threatened’, ‘invasive’, migratory and ‘iconic’ species
  • Number of algae, amphibians, angiosperms, ‘animals’, arthropods, bacteria, birds, bryophytes, chromista, crustaceans, dicots, ferns, fish, fungi, gymnosperms, insects, mammals, molluscs, monocots, plants, protozoa and reptile species.

Figure 1. Example of an area report