Help with Explore and Compare

Please see our Tutorials for a quick introduction to the user interfaces. 

See the Q&A below for more information.


Explore Tool

Compare Tool


Explore Q&A

Q: What are Resources?

A: Resources refer to:
  • Observations - See next question: What are Observations?
  • Photos - Images without species identified, such as landscapes. Currently these can only be queried directly through the Ecoengine API or through Calphotos.
  • Layers - GIS layers in the map display. These can be turned on and off in the right hand legend under Boundaries or Basemap.

Q: What are Observations?

A: Observations are records of species occurrences. The Observation Types include:
  • Specimens - wet and dry biological collections of plants, animals and fungi from multiple data sources.
  • Fossils - fossilized specimens of vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and microfossils from UCMP.
  • Vegetation Type Mapping data - historical records of plant occurrences from the VTM project. These are listed under VTM Vegetation Features and Plot Survey.
  • Photo - from Calphotos with identified species are given a species occurrence record. This is separate from Photos under Resources without species identified.
  • Checklists - of plants, animals and fungi from the UC Natural Reserves. Each species in a checklist was given a separate data record with coordinates from the center of the originating field stations. To get checklists by natural reserve, sort the data table by checklist number or do a Bounding Box search.
  • Observations - are sound recordings or video of species. The media are linked to these records through the originating institution.

Q: What data are displayed for each record?

A: For Observations, these are the available fields:

  • associated_resources
  • begin_date
  • catalog_number
  • clss
  • collection_code
  • coordinate_uncertainty_in_meters
  • country
  • county
  • earliest_period_or_lowest_system
  • end_date
  • family
  • genus
  • geojson
  • geometry
  • individual_count
  • infraspecific_epithet
  • institution_code
  • kingdom
  • last_modified
  • latest_period_or_highest_system
  • life_stage
  • locality
  • maximum_depth_in_meters
  • maximum_elevation_in_meters
  • minimum_depth_in_meters
  • minimum_elevation_in_meters
  • observation_type
  • order
  • original_id
  • phylum
  • preparations
  • record
  • recorded_by
  • remote_resource
  • scientific_name
  • sex
  • source
  • specific_epithet
  • state_province
  • url
  • water_body
If you need more information about a record, you can go directly to the originating collection by clicking on the Record ID in the data table below the map (hyperlinks to collection record) or by finding the collection on the Data Sources page and searching via their own database.

Q: How do you download data from the Explore tool?

In short, at the top of the data table (below the map), it reads:

"View data or export as CSV, JSON, or GeoJSON from the Berkeley Ecoinformatics Engine"

Frist, check the number of records available. Either adjust the "Page size" to accommodate all of the records, or be prepared to download mutlple pages.
Click on the CSV link to download all of the records on the page as a comma delimited text file.

Q: Why are there so few points plotted on the map when there are so many records available?

A: There may be several reasons for this.

1) Check the Page Size at the top of the data table. The default is set to 100 records, therefore only 100 records are displayed and plotted. You can change the page size to display more records. If they have latitude and longitude, they will plot on the map.

2) The data might not be geoferenced. Check the Filters on the left for Georeferenced = True. This is the full number of records that have geographic coordinates in your query. 

3) The records may have the same or very similar geographic coordinates. Zoom in to see if the points are overlaid and appear as one record. 

Q: Why doesn't back button in my browser work?

A: Instead of using the back button, re-click the last category you've chosen to turn that filter off.
If that does not work and you are stuck, try the "Reset" button on the top right. This will clear all of the selections. 

Q: What are the red, blue and orange squares?

A: These are sensors (red), photos with a preview (blue) and University of California Natural Reserves (orange).
You can turn them on and off on the right hand legend by using the checkboxes under Data Layers.

Compare Q&A

Q: What is the difference between Explore and Compare?

A: Explore allows you to search all of the data in the Ecoengine by searching by keyword or date, by filtering down to a subset of interest, or using a bounding box search in the map interface. Goereferenced specimens will be plotted on the map and you can view the points with different types of data, backgrounds, boundaries or footprints. Explore allows you to download the data from the records and export for further analysis.

Compare is a mapping tool that allows you to view several sets at a time. You can query the Ecoengine in Compare using the keyword search, or import search results directly from Explore. Compare is particularly useful for comparing the distribution of species occurrences, building, customizing and sharing maps online. 

Q: What is a GeoJSON URI?

A: A GeoJSON URI is a machine and human readable string of characters that contains geographic information (and in this case, your Explore query information) that can be transferred to other platforms (like the Compare Tool). You can get the GeoJSON URI from the Explore tool by clicking on "Get query for Compare Tool" in the upper most right hand corner of Explore.

Q: What are the Point, Polygon and Hexagon options?

A: These are options in the map legend that display data in different ways.

The Point option plots each data record as a dot. However, if there are multiple records from the same location, they will be stacked on top of eachother and multiple points will appear as only a single point.

The Polygon option allows you to see exactly how many records are in a geographic area. The Compare Tool does this by grouping records together in a Minimum Convex Polygon (MCP). You'll notice that the polygon splits into smaller groups as you zoom in. Note that this is not a statistical calculation for home range, but is a useful visualization method for plotting many records at once.

The Hexagon option is another MCP visualziation tool that groups records from the same area into hexagon shapes. Similarly, these hexagons adjust in size as you zoom in. You can also adjust the hexagon radius using the slider.

Both the Polygons and Hexagons are translucent, allowing the viewer to see areas of overlap between data layers.

Q: Why do the record counts keep changing?

A: The Compare Tool will load all of the records in a query, which may take some time. The numbers will continue to update until all records are loaded.

If the information you seek is not here, please feel free to contact us.