Lately we have been toying with the idea of developing species range maps for North Carolina fishes. Although we wish we could run this project full time, work keeps us rather busy, and having gone back and forth for a while, neither of us really had any concrete solutions that we could accomplish in our limited free time.
R is a statistical programming language that you can read all about here and here. Basically, R allows you to clean, manipulate, and plot data in a very efficient way, for free. As in open source free. Now, neither of us are programmers by trade, but we can read stackoverflow and use google with the best of them. Our code may not be optimised, or use best practices, but it works! Our script creates range maps using data sets from www.fishnet2.net, and a few crucial R libraries (ggplot2, Cairo). If you wish to produce your own maps, head over to fishnet, make a data query for the state of NC and download the CSV. We would like to make the download automatic for you, but fishnet requires an api key to interact with their servers, and we aren’t going to share that. Feel free to take a look at the code, rip it apart, and let us know what you think!
Head on over to Github to check out our code: Github
We created a quick markdown file explaining the process here.
In the meantime, we are working on integrating our maps into the site in order to give our readers more detailed collection information, and provide a better experience.
Fish specimen data used in this map obtained from the North Carolina State Science Museum, (Accessed through the Fishnet2 Portal, www.fishnet2.org, 2013-12-21).