Bird Species Heat Maps
Here is a heat map of Common Ground Dove Observations exported from a Google Fusion Table. Keep in mind, this shows where they were seen before May 2016, not necessarily where it can be seen. You should be able to toggle street map and satellite image and scroll around the island or zoom in and out. This data is based on eBird Data which is freely available online and you can see the eBird heat map at COGD on eBird. So, if the data and maps are freely available online, why make a map of my own? Mostly to see if and how it could be done and how much it would cost. Time, money, knowledge. The knowledge to create the map was also freely available online, but I had not been introduced to google fusion tables until about a year ago. THe process costs nothing! No website hosting, just a google email account and no special subscription. Also, the map loads fast and it is one click shareable. You ask me for locations with Ground doves and I say ok. Boop beep boop, here you go to the link and that is all you have. No distractions. The web map I created was also immediately available to colleagues in several countries and most importantly, remote Bahamian islands with cellular data access on their phones shared via social media and email. Colleagues that were not near a computer. These are some of the real world challenges we see with accessing data about our country and natural resources online in the Bahamas, Caribbean and Developing world. Freely avalable does not necessarily mean accessible because of other issues like internet or computer access.
There are however several downsides to this avenue.
Fast means less content. No map labels, citations etc. and a visitor cannot further explore the data. Scientists really want this when they are sitting at a desk. There is a more robust map creator through the Google Earth Engine API, but you have to learn to write code.
In the end, anyone can bust out a map like this in about 10-15 minutes if they have their data ready. Think about a map with incidences of invasive species (MTIASIC crew), Bahamian snake sightings (Looking at you Scott Johnson) or Bahama Parrots of Nassau (Lynn, Shelley). The beauty of this is ownership. We can start telling our own stories quickly, with data. And if someone wants to see the data, we can share that too.
I hope you enjoyed this map. Contact me for details on the process by commenting on my blog or the social media account you saw this on.