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.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, London 1975

Authors and Affiliations

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

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