The Application of Electronic Data-Processing to the Mapping of Plant Distributions

  • James H. Soper


The first part of this paper outlines the important features of distribution maps as used in botany, describes how they are constructed and discusses the introduction of machine-mapping methods in the early 1960’s. Examples of hand-plotted and machine-plotted maps are given. The main techniques for the automation of mapping plant ranges are described as well as the special capabilities which computers provide for mapping. A comparison is made of the different kinds of machines which can be used for machine-mapping from the standpoint of Input, Output, Control, Operation, Restrictions, Advantages and Disadvantages.

The second part of the paper describes the development of mapping programs for plotting the distribution of the vascular plants of Southern Ontario and examples are shown of output which can be used directly for publication. Reference is made to E.D.P. systems tested at the National Herbarium of Canada and to the current project to develop an information-retrieval system linking label production and automated mapping to the formation of a data bank of botanical distribution records. The importance of improving the quality of the data on future herbarium specimen labels is stressed and attention is called to the value of local gazetteers based on collections in herbaria.

A list of selected references on machine-mapping and related fields is provided.


Magnetic Tape Continuous Form Universal Transverse Mercator National Herbarium Paper Tape 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. ARGUS, G.W. & SHEARD, J.W. (1972). Two simple labeling and data retrieval systems for herbaria. Can. Journ. Bot. 50: 2197–2209Google Scholar
  2. BESCHEL, R, E, & SOPER, J.H. (1970). The automation and standardization of certain herbarium procedures. Can. Journ. Bot. 48: 547–554.Google Scholar
  3. BRITTON, D. M. & SOPER, J.H. (1966). The cytology and distribution of Dryopteris species in Ontario. Can. Journ. Bot. 44: 63–78.Google Scholar
  4. BROWN, C. E, (1964). A machine method for mapping insect survey records. The Forestry Chronicle 40: 445–449.Google Scholar
  5. CADBURY, D.A., HAWKES, J.G. & READETT, R.C. (1971). A Computer-mapped Flora. A study of the County of Warwickshire, Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  6. CHARPIN, A. & MONTHOUX, O. (1971). L’emploi de l’ordinateur pour la cartographie floristique de la Haute-Savoie. Bull. Soc. bot. Fr. 118: 793–800.Google Scholar
  7. GOMEZ-POMPA, A. & NEVLING, L.I. (1973). The use of electronic data processing methods in the flora of Vera Cruz program. Contr. Gray Herb. 203: 49–64.Google Scholar
  8. HAWKES, J.G., KERSHAW, B. L. & READETT, R.C. (1968). Computer mapping of species distribution in a county flora. Watsonia 6: 350–364.Google Scholar
  9. PERRING, F.H. (1963). Data-processing for the Atlas of the British Flora. Taxon, 12: 183–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. PERRING, F.H. & WALTERS, S.M. (1962). Atlas of the British Flora. Thos. Nelson & Sons, London.Google Scholar
  11. SOPER, J.H. (1964). Mapping the distribution of plants by machine. Can. Journ. Bot. 42: 1087–1100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. SOPER, J.H. (1966). Machine-plotting of phytogeographical data. Can. Geogr. 10: 15–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. SOPER, J. H. (1969). The use of data processing methods in the herbarium. An. Inst. Biol. Univ. Na. Auton. Mexico, Ser. Bot. 40: 105–116.Google Scholar
  14. SOPER, J. H. & PEERING, F.H. (1967). Data processing in the herbarium and museum. Taxon, 16: 13–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. TAYLOR, D.R.F. (1971). Computer mapping: a tool for the 1970’s. Rev. Géogr. Montr. 25: 381–389.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, London 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Soper
    • 1
  1. 1.National Herbarium of CanadaNational Museum of Natural SciencesOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations