Researchers use a number of traditional and high-tech methods of visualizing how habitats and biodiversity change over geographic regions, including standard mapping techniques. These can also be presented to show changes over time, as well as space. The most commonly used approach, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, utilizes computer technology to visually represent measurements of many different types of physical and biological characteristics for a specific geographic area. This technology is very helpful for examining population abundances, such as the density of plankton found in a bay, or physical characteristics of the environment, such as the temperature of seawater. Specialized computer program can combine data for different characteristics on one map. Each characteristic is represented by its own color on the map. This creates a clear visual image of specific characteristics that varies and can be compared to each other over the area in question.
|A GIS image of the Gulf of Mexico, generated from numerous sources of information. (NOAA Ocean Explorer)|
|A view of how different types of data covering a geographic area can be overlaid to produce a highly detailed and informative view. (NOAA Ocean Explorer)|
Click on the links below to see what Census projects use this technology: