IUCN Spatial Data Resources

IUCN Species Mapping Resources (GIS)

The species distribution maps, sometimes referred to as 'limits of distribution' or 'field guide' maps, aim to provide the current known distribution of the species within its native range. The limits of distribution can be determined by using known occurrences of the species, along with the knowledge of habitat preferences, remaining suitable habitat, elevation limited, and other expert knowledge of the species and its range. In most cases the range is depicted as polygons. A polygon displaying the limits of a species distribution is essentially meant to communicate that the species probably occurs within this polygon, but it does not mean that it is distributed equally within that polygon or occurs everywhere within that polygon.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species uses spatial data for the mapping of species.  The spatial data is created in shapefiles and compiles of a standardise format of attributes. Each shapefile must contain taxonomic information, and contain information on the distribution status, sources and other details (see metadata document).  Below are some of IUCN Red List Tools, basedata and example polygon shapefiles:

GIS Tools and Basedata

The following documents and tools are available to help users to find their way around species mapping of Red List assessments:

 

Other resources, software, tools and other useful links

Resources

General best practice advice for species data

Mapping Using Google Maps and Google Earth

 

Software and Tools

Esri - GIS Mapping Software, links to ArcGIS for Desktop free trial, Esri Resource Center for support and training.

QGIS - An open source GIS desktop software.

Geospatial Modelling Environment - GME provides you with a suite of analysis and modelling tools.

XTools - Comprehensive set of tools for vector spatial data.

 

Data Providers

GeoCAT - Online tool for geospatial analysis of species.

GBIF - free, open acces to biodiversity data.

Wiki GIS Data Sources - information data sets for GIS

 

For all enquiries about spatial data, please contact the IUCN Red List GIS Unit.