Lecturers: Dr. Gudrun Wallentin
Space can serve as reference framework for the representation of ecosystems by the integration of biotic and abiotic system components through their shared geographic location. Space thus provides the context of how things in a system are connected with each other. Adding to Commoner’s First Law of Ecology “Everything is connected to everything else” we can add “..but nearer things are more related than distance things” (Tobler, 1970). To put it simple: lions will feed on gazelles, but only on close ones, not the ones that are far away. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are tools that can represent, manage, analyse and visualise spatial information. In this course we will cover the main functionality of GIS applied to ecological use cases. Topics include: spatial reference systems, spatial data acquisition, managing data in a GIS, geographical analysis and geovisualisation. Spatial simulation models take most of the functionality of a GIS and additionally represent time. We can thus realistically represent ecological processes in their specific geographic context, including predator-prey models, models of genetic evolution, or flocking models of birds.
Interactions and relations of organisms and their environment are always local. GIS are tools to organise, quantitatively analyse and visualise spatial data, and thus can help to extract information from ecological datasets such as biodiversity surveys, vegetation maps, animal tracks and remotely sensed data.