Free and Open Source Software for Geomatics Conference FOSS4G 2010 Barcelona

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Lifemapper2 ( is an archive of biodiversity geospatial data and a set of cluster-based computational tools provided to users through web services. Lifemapper synthesizes the known distribution information of terrestrial plants and animals, and predicts future species distributions based on various climate scenarios. It is built around the openModeller ecological niche modeling (ENM) platform and uses a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to provide data and analysis using open-source tools, including PostgreSQL, PostGIS, Mapserver, GDAL, GRASS, and OpenLayers.  The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) provides a monthly cache of their specimen occurrence database, which contains specimen records from over 283 data providers. 

Data products offered through web services include specimen records, models and projections created with openModeller, and environmental data, such as predicted climate data from the International Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report.

Computational tools include ENM services, which allow users to request ecological niche modeling experiments through the Lifemapper website or to access the web services programmatically. The user may define modeling parameters and compute models with either uploaded or LM archive input data. 

Additional tools to compute landscape ecological measurements are in the final stages of development. These tools calculate landscape metrics such as patch, core, edge, and shape measurements. Others quantify and describe dispersal models and timeseries changes.

A related project integrates Lifemapper and the widely used desktop application SAM, Spatial Analysis in Macroecology ( The Lifemapper-SAM (LM-SAM) project will enable creation, population, and analysis of multispecies macroecological grids.  As part of LM-SAM, a Specify Plug-in will submit experiments using local data and parameter sets and catalog results, documenting the entire process.  A QGIS Plug-in will deconstruct patterns in macroecological datasets, dynamically recomputing indexes for user-defined subsets of species.

Keywords:  biodiversity, web services, research tools, macroecology, landscape ecology, ecological niche modeling, environmental data


Aimee Steward - KU Biodiversity Institute