[MARMAM] New Book - 'GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates'

Colin D. MacLeod cdmacleod at gisinecology.com
Fri Mar 4 04:20:41 PST 2016

Hi All,

This new book which I have authored about using GIS in biological research is now available (it was released in December 2015). It may be of interest to marine mammalogists, and particularly those who wish to learn how to use either ArcGIS (the leading commercial GIS software package) or QGIS (the leading open source GIS software) in their research.

All the best,


Now Available - ‘GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates’ by Colin D. MacLeod (Pictish Beast Publications, 352 pages).

’GIS For Biologists’ is a new book that provides an easy-to-understand introduction to using GIS in biological research as well as six practical exercises specifically created to help biologists learn how to use GIS in their daily lives. The instructions for these practical exercises are  provided for both ESRI's ArcGIS For Desktop 10.3 and QGIS 2.8.3, the leading open source, and so freely available, GIS software. The exercises cover a range of biological fields ranging from tropical ecology, ornithology, marine mammal biology and epidemiology, and are set in locations ranging from Peru to Scotland, the continental US, northern Mozambique and the North Atlantic.

As well as providing the perfect practical exercises for any biologist interested in learning how to use GIS, this book is also well-suited to those who wish to teach GIS to undergraduate, masters or postgraduate students in any biological field, but who do not have the time to develop their own practical course content. 

This book is supported by a dedicated ‘GIS For Biologists’ webpage (http://www.gisinecology.com/GFB.htm) which provides helpful information on where to get your preferred GIS software, how to download and install it, and how to download the data used in the practical exercises in the book, as well as links to free short videos which have been created to accompany the book's contents.

‘GIS For Biologists’ is available to purchase as a paperback or as a kindle ebook (although due to its fixed page format, it is only available on devices and Kindle apps with 'pinch and zoom' capabilities). It is available from all good book sellers (and Amazon), or for order directly from GIS In Ecology.  Free previews of the contents can be downloaded from http://www.gisinecology.com/GFB_book.htm. 

If you wish to request a desk/examination copy for consideration as a recommended course text for a course you run or are developing, please email cdmacleod at GISinEcology.com (desk copies will only be provided on verification of your academic position as a course coordinator/instructor).

>From The Back Of The book:

This book provides a user-friendly and practical introduction for undergraduates to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in biological research. Unlike most other books about using GIS, this information is specifically presented in a biological context and it is divided into two sections.

The first section provides just enough background information to allow the novice biological GIS user to get started with GIS without getting too bogged down in the theory behind it or making some of the most common 
mistakes made by beginners. It covers areas such as what GIS is, why GIS is useful in biology, the basics of GIS, common concepts and terms in GIS, how data are contained in a GIS, useful information about what to think about before starting a GIS project and how to break down and translate biological tasks into the language of GIS. This information is all provided in easy-to-read and non-technical language, with specific reference to its application in biological research.

The second section, which constitutes the main body of the book, consists of six practical exercises accompanied by detailed instruction sets. The first four exercises introduce the novice biological GIS user to basic, but important, GIS skills, such as making a map, creating new feature data layers, creating raster data layers and joining together data from different data layers. The final two consist of case studies of how GIS can be used to answer real biological research questions. Each of these exercises represents a stand-alone GIS leson which can be completed either on its own or as part of a practical session for an undergraduate class. In addition, each exercise focuses on a different area of biology, such as tropical ornithology, epidemiology, marine biology and rainforest ecology, and on a different part of the world, including the Amazon rainforest, a Scottish field station, Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique, the North Atlantic Ocean and the USA. Instructions for each exercise are provided for both the leading commercial GIS package (ESRI’s ArcGIS® 10.3 software) and the leading freely available open-source GIS software (QGIS 2.8.3, also known as Quantum GIS), meaning that this book can be used to learn, or teach, how to use GIS in biological research, regardless of the availability of commercial software licences.

Taken together, the two sections of this book provide the perfect primer to show undergraduates, and other novice GIS users, how useful GIS can be in biological research, why it is rapidly becoming a key skill in many areas of biology, and how to start using it. The PSLS series of books uses Task-Oriented Learning (TOL) to teach the practical application of research skills to the life sciences. This involves demonstrating how these skills can be used in the specific circumstances in which they are likely to be required, rather than concentrating on teaching theoretical frameworks or on teaching skills in a generic or abstract manner. By seeing how the similar processes are used to achieve a variety of different goals within a specific field, it becomes easier for the reader to identify the general rules behind the practical application of these processes and, therefore, to transfer them to novel situations they may encounter in the future.

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