Welcome to GIS For Biologists

GIS For Biologists aims to provide relatively cheap, easy-to-access, high quality training for biologists who wish to learn how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in their research. It is an online counterpart to the popular in-person courses run by GIS In Ecology, and it provides a way to access these courses at a substantially reduced cost, and with no associated travel or accommodation costs, making them much more widely accessible. Our training is based around the practical exercises in a book called GIS For Biologists: A Practical Introduction For Undergraduates and consists of a series of on-demand videos which provide step-by-step instructions for completing each exercise.

At the moment, three exercises are available (Exercise One – How To Make A MapExercise Two – How To Create Your Own Feature Data Layers and Exercise Three – How To Work With Raster Data Layers), which together provide a short introductory course to using GIS in biological research. In total, this course consists of just over three hours of videos and it is estimated it will take up to nine hours to complete (including watching the videos, reading the recommended background information and completing the practical exercises). The videos can be subscribed to for $15 for each individual exercise, while a subscription to the complete course will cost $30 (this is in addition to the cost of purchasing the book on which these exercises are based). To purchase a subscription, simply click on the page link for one of the exercises (we recommend you start with exercise one), and then click on the first video. This will bring up the payment options which you can use to pay for the videos you wish to access.

Each exercise is also accompanied by an Optional Extra section. These sections allow you to test your newly acquired GIS skills on a new, but related, task. If you have subscribed to the whole course, rather than an individual exercise, you will also have the option of submitting the results of these optional extras for assessment, and if all the optional extras for the exercises have been successfully completed, you will be issued with an official GIS In Ecology certificate of completion. There is an additional charge for this optional assessment and certification to cover the associated administration costs. Details of these costs can be found in the optional extras section at the end of each individual exercise.

Our training is based around QGIS, an open-source GIS software package. There are three reasons why we used QGIS. Firstly, it is freely available, and this means that anyone can use it regardless of whether they have the resources to pay for commercial software licences or not. Secondly, QGIS is increasingly becoming the standard GIS software amongst biological users, especially in universities, governmental organisations and smaller environmental consultancies. Finally, QGIS provides easy access to specific versions of the software. This means that we can provide course materials that are not vulnerable to software updates. However, our training is provided in a manner that is relatively software-independent. As a result, while we provide training using a specific version of QGIS (version 2.8.3 – which can be downloaded from here), it is provided in a manner that means the skills are easy to transfer to more recent versions of this software. Similarly, you’ll find that it is also easy to transfer the skills you learn from our training to other GIS software, such as ESRI’s ArcGIS package.

To explore the exercises which are available, click on the GIS Exercises option in the above menu, or alternatively if you wish to start working through our exercises, click on Getting Started.

Note: This website is primarily designed to be used by individuals. If you would like find out how you can purchase multi-user subscriptions at a discounted rate so that more than one individuals in your organisation can access our GIS courses/exercises, as part of your own training provision, or for teaching purposes at a further education institution, please visit our multi-user subscriptions page.