Topic: recording and showing negative records at sites

There must be a solution or way of doing this - i just don't know how....

When long term surveying for mobile animals like water voles or otters etc etc

It would be useful to produce maps/records to see presence and absence for survay points/areas.

It is quite easy to produce positive maps but where you have a positive record and then there is a gap we want to know surveys were turning up empty rather than no surveys were undertaken

At the moment all the records are in a spreadsheet.

Given we have very limited funds - what is the best way of producing a visual/map?


david b


Re: recording and showing negative records at sites

Hi David,

If you want maps on a limited budget you might want to look at Quantum GIS http://www.qgis.org/
It is open source, i.e. free of charge,  but apparently the documentation is limited so the learning curve might be more difficult to climb than for the commerical packages.  It would help if you have an IT and/or GIS background.

There are probably other open source GIS packages out there, maybe less powerful than QGIS but that might make them easier to learn.  DMAP used to be widely used and is a cheap commercial package.  http://www.dmap.co.uk/

You could probably do something with Google maps or Bing, using different coloured markers for presence/absence, but I have not yet investigated their copyright requirements.

Mike Beard
Natural Course Project Officer
Greater Manchester Local Records Centre

3 (edited by BDeed 30-10-2012 11:05:39)

Re: recording and showing negative records at sites

Hi David,

If you don't mind depending on 'un-supported' software we have developed a program that will take your spreadsheet (assuming it has a Grid reference column) and allow you to map the information to Google Earth, the program will produce squares based on the resolution of the grid reference, you would simply need to do a kml export for positive records and an export for negative records.

The program can be found here: http://merseysidebiobank.org.uk/index.a … EarthTools

Obviously this is quite a simplistic way to map the records and if you wanted to map stretches of a water course for example, your best bet would probably be the use of open source software suggested above.

Or if you have no experience of GIS yourself (and are unable to commit the learning time) you could always try approaching your friendly LRC to see if they might be able to help?

LERC Officer
Merseyside BioBank - Local Environmental Records Centre for North Merseyside


Re: recording and showing negative records at sites

Thanks to you both for  the suggestions - rather serendipitously my work are doing an introduction to ArcGIS 10 in November and have given me access to GIS247 training. 

I've already produced a simple KML file to map the sites so we can see the relationship between the survey point and adjacent  water courses - so am relatively up to speed with the use of KML

Still could be a long journey and any suggestions are welcome

David B


Re: recording and showing negative records at sites

Are you a Recorder 6 user? If so, you can store and map negative records in that. To enter them you add measurement data to the records and set the data column to 0 (zero). When entering data via Data Entry - Enter a species record, enter 0 in the Count box. The import wizard in Recorder 6 will import records from Excel (.xls files in v6.17 and earlier, also .xlsx files in v6.18 when it is released) provided they are in a suitable format. Once the records are entered, you can then map them by doing a report that includes the zero abundance records and send them to the map, then go back through the wizard and select the non-zero abundance records and send those to the map. Obviously, one set of dots will be superimposed on the other but each set can be turned on and off. Provided the elementary nature of the Recorder 6 mapping meets your needs, this should prove satisfactory. If your local record centre uses Recorder 6 they may be willing to give you a demonstration. I supply Recorder 6 for £30, other resellers sell it at a similar price.

Sally Rankin, JNCC Recorder Approved Expert
E-mail: s.rankin@btinternet.com
Telephone: 01491 578633
Mobile: 07941 207687


Re: recording and showing negative records at sites

Thanks for all the help - I've now got Quantum GIS running with the free OS maps and have imported our survey sites KML file.

So I am well in the way

David B