Becoming A Master – Back to GIS

Week 32

Hello and a very happy Sunday to you! So this week I have been using all my GIS skills once again but now I’m using them in my dissertation. If you didn’t know GIS stands for geographical information systems and is a really cool tool you can use to layer information that has a spatial element. Then you can build up the layers to see if there is a correlation between all of the information. I’ve talked about all the ins and outs with GIS before and you can read about it here if you’re interested.

In terms of GIS for my dissertation, I’ve been putting all my results from my field work onto a map to see if there is any connection between the biodiversity I’ve found and other spatial elements. Particularly when questioning whether the presence of trees in the hedgerows affect the general biodiversity. This is when I would show you my beautiful maps but I need to keep them to myself for a little while until my dissertation gets marked. However the basics behind it is I have mapped out the trees in my survey area as a layer and then I mapped over the biodiversity I found using the alpha biodiversity. This can then show me where the biodiversity is lower and if this happens to be where the hedgerows are dense with trees.

I’m using a similar technique to show the affect of badger damage on hedgerows. Badgers will often use the hedgerow to build part of their sets. This can often lead to lots of the plant life being destroyed. So I’m using GIS to see if that is an issue on my sample site too!

GIS is one of those tools that never fails to provide you with a fantastic figure and is a great skill for any budding biologist out there to learn!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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Becoming A Master – GIS: The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly

Week 21

Good Morning folks, as I start writing this it is 8:50am on Tuesday and I am sitting down for a day with my good friend ArcMap. That if you did not know is a piece of Geographical Information Software, otherwise known as GIS. I’ve taken a module this term in Environmental GIS which has been my favourite out of the four I’ve had this term. That however does not mean I don’t occasionally fall out with it. So I thought for this weeks BAM I’d talk about the pros and cons of GIS. I’m also spending this week finishing my assignment for this class. I’ll let you know at the end of this blog if I’ve done it by the time you read this.

I’ll start with the cons…

  1. The dreaded X – Now I’ll admit I am still learning how to use the software, so I do on occasion come across this X in my results field after running some analysis. Thats all well and good if you know how to fix it. I often don’t and sometimes the error messages are not helpful at all. Thank goodness for the internet, it’s saved me so many times from the X.
  2. Waiting – My biggest flaw is arguably that I can be a very impatient person, particularly when I have a lot on my plate. Arc Map can at times be impossibly slow (right now I’m waiting for some raster calculation results). I can therefore get a little annoyed by this, particularly if my results come back with an X.

Now on to the pros

  1. Pretty Maps – You can create some really amazing stuff with GIS, not to mention the amount of maps online. I even found a GIS map of Westeros!
  2. The sheer joy when it works –  Getting the little tick of approval is just marvelous! Its such a sense of achievement when it all goes the right way!

Hopefully some of you who work with GIS can appreciate my snuggles. Hope you’re enjoying BEDA so far you can catch up with any episodes missed on the extras page!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




Becoming A Master – Ready, Set, Go!

Week 12


I’m back after almost a month away! I can’t really believe it has been that long since I last updated you all on my masters degree so let me kick off with how last term ended. My last day of term finished with a presentation for my group project which went really well! So well done team if you’re reading this! Then our whole department went for our christmas do which was actually a talk from Chris Packham! It was extremely insightful as to what practical conservation can look like. He showed us some of his truly incredible photography.

Image result for chris packham photography

Then it was time for a well earned christmas break.. or not. Over the christmas break I wrote three assignments totaling at approximately 7,500 words and I started some new writing projects! My assignments were all handed in on Monday this week so fingers crossed they all pass through with flying colours. And with that a new term with brand new modules started!

So as for this week Monday started with a lecture and practical in Diatoms! These are fascinating little beasts and it felt so good to be back in the lab after so long away. I took a few pictures with my phone not that they show diatoms in the greatest detail. I was using a x1000 lens just to give you a scale of how small these guys are.

img_0495 img_0484

On Tuesday I had my first battle with GIS. Thats geographical information software. It’s a fantastic skill to have because with it you can build up maps and make links between well lots of different things. Anyway I really enjoyed the first session so here’s to a bright future with it! On Wednesday I had a lecture in marine conservation. I studied marine in depth in a module in my undergrad but this module seems to include more policy. Marine policy can be a little complicated so I’ll explain that in a future blog.

On Thursday I had a field trip that took us to a lake in North Hertfordshire. I spent 3 hours on some very cold tiny boats doing coring. This is when you take sediment from the bottom of a lake and from that you can find out what was living in it hundreds of years ago. It did rain down a lot that day but it was still great fun!

Then Friday was my 23rd birthday and I’ve had an amazing weekend celebrating just that! I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of BAM!

Happy Biologying!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!



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