[Qgis-community-team] new case study for QGIS site: QGIS/GRASS IN BIOGEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH

Giovanni Manghi giovanni.manghi at gmail.com
Thu Jul 22 05:00:36 EDT 2010


I have just received from my friend Marcia Barbosa a text that
would fill nicely as a new case study for the QGIS web site. Here it
is (I have also a couple of pictures that are too heavy to attach, sak
directly to me):


I started applying GIS to my work in biogeography about 10 years ago.
Through my graduate internship, PhD work and two other research jobs,
I used the proprietary software packages that were available and used
at my workplaces – mainly CartaLinx, Idrisi, ArcView and ArcGIS. But I
found it rather annoying that we were constantly dealing with license
renewal issues, and that I could not use the software away from the
workplace unless I acquired my own license.

It crossed my mind on several occasions that switching to free
software would spare me those problems. However, there was prejudice
against the analytical capabilities of free software, and even after I
heard about the potential of GRASS, I was still reluctant because I
thought it would be too difficult to learn. I was also afraid it would
be cumbersome to migrate all the maps and analyses that I had done so

At the beginning of my post-doc in 2008, I finally gave it an
opportunity and took a training course on Quantum GIS and GRASS. It
was probably the best decision of my professional life! I found that
QGIS provided a very intuitive interface for GRASS, that they
complemented each other perfectly, and they provided all the
analytical capabilities I needed.

I started using both programs immediately after the course. Not only
did I begin all my new GIS work with QGIS/GRASS [e.g. 1,2], but I also
did follow-up analyses on previous works that I had done with
commercial software. For example, I had built models of otter [3] and
desman [4] distribution in the Iberian Peninsula. After switching to
QGIS-GRASS, I analysed how those models behaved when downscaled to a
finer resolution [5]. Another previous work on biogeographic
relationships between Iberian lynx and rabbit [6] had a follow-up
after I switched to QGIS-GRASS [7]. Not only did I not have any
problems with the migration of the data and previous results: I also
found it much easier to do the things I wanted to do with the new
software, and was able to do extra analyses which I could not have
done with the programs I used before.

All in all, switching to Quantum GIS/GRASS brought me nothing but
advantages. I can now work freely at work, at home and on my laptop on
the move, without having to worry about software licenses or moving to
new institutions. Open-source software covers all my research needs
and gives me the freedom I longed for.


[1] Barbosa A.M., Fontaneto D., Marini L. & Pautasso M. (2010) Is the
human population a large-scale indicator of the species richness of
ground beetles? Animal Conservation, early view. doi:

[2] Fontaneto D., Barbosa A.M., Pautasso M. & Segers H. (submitted)
The 'rotiferologist' effect and the drivers of species richness in

[3] Barbosa, A.M., R. Real, J. Olivero & J.M. Vargas, 2003. Otter
(Lutra lutra) distribution modeling at two resolution scales suited to
conservation planning in the Iberian Peninsula. Biological
Conservation, 114:377-387.

[4] Barbosa A.M., Real R. & Vargas J.M. (2009) Transferability of
environmental favourability models in geographic space: the case of
the Iberian desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) in Portugal and Spain.
Ecological Modelling 220: 747-754. doi:

[5] Barbosa A.M., Real R. & Vargas J.M. (2010) Use of
coarse-resolution models of species' distributions to guide local
conservation inferences. Conservation Biology, early view. doi:

[6] Real R., A. M. Barbosa, A. Rodríguez, F. J. García, J. M. Vargas,
L. J. Palomo & M. Delibes, 2008. Conservation biogeography of
ecologically-interacting species: the case of the Iberian lynx and the
European rabbit. Diversity and Distributions, 15: 390–400. doi:

[7] Barbosa, A.M. & Real, R. (in press) Favourable areas for expansion
and reintroduction of Iberian lynx accounting for distribution trends
and genetic diversity of the European rabbit. Wildlife Biology in

This article was contributed in July 2010 by Dr. A. Márcia Barbosa.
She is a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College London (UK) and
the University of Évora (Portugal).


-- Giovanni --

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