From Points to Habitat: Relating Environmental Information to GPS Positions
Animals move in and interact with complex environments that can be characterised by a set of spatial layers containing environmental data. Spatial databases can manage these different data sets in a unified framework, defining spatial and non-spatial relationships that simplify the analysis of the interaction between animals and their habitat. A large set of analyses can be performed directly in the database with no need for dedicated GIS or statistical software. Such an approach moves the information content managed in the database from a ‘geographical space’ to an ‘animal’s ecological space’. This more comprehensive model of the animals’ movement ecology reduces the distance between physical reality and the way data are structured in the database, filling the semantic gap between the scientist’s view of biological systems and its implementation in the information system. This chapter shows how vector and raster layers can be included in the database and how you can handle them using (spatial) SQL. The database built so far in Chaps. 2, 3, 4 and 5 is extended with environmental ancillary data sets and with an automated procedure to intersect these layers with GPS positions.