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Moving into the information age : from records to Google Earth

Smith, David


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Dr David Smith
Senior Lecturer, Director of Studies for Psychology


Many of us are avid recorders of Yorkshire’ varied flora and fauna. Over a recording career of many years a single recorder can personally amass large data sets or, if involved with networks of similarly-minded people, groups of recorders can rapidly build truely massive data sets numbering many tens of thousands of records. Sometimes we wish to make sense of these large data sets by mapping their geographic location, perhaps to understand distributional trends in space across time. Though data sets can be easily mapped in software such as MapMate or Levana, the resulting maps are basic outline projections of the reference region on which records are plotted (Figure 1). Though useful for understanding distribution in the abstract they lack the directness (and ability to zoom in and out) offered by scaleable photographic representations of location as provided by satellite imagery embedded and rendered in a digital environment. As County Butterfly Recorder (Butterfly Conservation) for Yorkshire I wished to make use of the software Google Earth, which is the pre-eminent example of scaleable mapping software, to map butterfly sightings across a number of years. The object was to motivate recorders in the coming butterfly-recording year to go out and explore those parts of Yorkshire which had not so far provided any butterfly sightings. The problem was how to take almost 75,000 records, representing just two years worth of butterfly sightings, currently residing in the butterfly software Levana and plot them in Google Earth. This turned out to be a relatively painless journey but requiring some tricks that I thought it would be useful to share. I would hope that this article will allow other people with data bases of records that they would like to present in Google Earth to do exactly that.


Smith, D. (2017). Moving into the information age : from records to Google Earth. The naturalist, 142(1095), 151-156

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2017
Publication Date 2017
Deposit Date Aug 23, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 31, 2017
Journal The Naturalist
Print ISSN 0028-0771
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 142
Issue 1095
Pages 151-156
Public URL
Publisher URL


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