Geospatial Conservation Assessment Tool (GeoCAT) version 1.

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Department Name: Biodiversity Informatics

Abstract

By directly producing data to support assessments using Red List Categories and Criteria, GeoCAT specifically responds to the challenge of 'identifying thresholds beyond which a change in biodiversity will lead to extinctions', as stated under the Biodiversity theme of NERC's strategy (Next Generation Science for Planet Earth 2007-2012).

No other product at present is delivering this essential service, thus contributing to UK leadership in this field. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, which contains a high-volume of recent and historical data on plants (over 7 million specimens), has become a hub for plant Red List assessment activity and innovation. Furthermore, as a result of advanced data capture techniques e.g. digitisation of specimen collections (Global Plants Initiative), a deluge of species occurrence data now exists - see also the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). However very few tools have been built to harness this primary data for secondary outputs such as extinction risk assessments. These assessments lead to conservation action and will safeguard species for the future, leading to the long term persistence of ecosystems that are vital for human health, wellbeing and economic growth. To ensure that the community can address growing challenges such as predicting the impact of climate change on species distributions, it is necessary to make further enhancements to GeoCAT and fully release it.

In relation to the remit of our institution, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's mission is: To inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide, enhancing the quality of life. Specifically, Kew is committed to identifying species of plants at greatest threat of extinction in order to guide conservation policy (Convention on Biological Diversity 2020 - Target 12, Global Strategy for Plant Conservation - Target 2) and action (in situ conservation, seed banking and propagation).

GeoCAT is a user friendly product that makes light demands from the user, unlike statistical or GIS software that demand a high technical overhead. GeoCAT works in areas where internet connectivity is poor and requires very little experience and has therefore proven to be a valuable tool as part of capacity building projects for our global conservation partners. GeoCAT offers a consistent, transparent and data driven analytical method that can be used to provide baselines in threat status of species from which changes and trends can be monitored.

Planned Impact

The enhancements and improvements proposed will enable rapid Red List assessment of large quantities of species - not only restricted to plants. Although the IUCN Red List contains 70,000+ species, it remains incomplete by a large margin with only approximately 5% of described organisms assessed. The rapid assessment of species with GeoCAT will lead to a more comprehensive Red List, indicating potential priorities for policy and conservation action. It will also help fulfil specific goals such as a conservation assessment for all plants by 2020 (Global Strategy for Plant Conservation - Target 2).

GeoCAT will also make re-assessments of species easier and quicker thereby contributing directly to policy mechanisms such as the Red List Index (Convention on Biological Diversity 2020 - Target 12). As GeoCAT is open source the code can be downloaded and modified thereby allowing the user community to directly contribute to innovation and improvements in the tool.

A key enhancement will be the harvesting of data from multiple sources. GeoCAT already links to primary sources such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and Flickr images. Links will be implemented for further data sources such as the citizen science projects iSpot (led by the Open University), iNatualist and Project Noah as well as other image platforms e.g. Picassa.

Future planned innovations for GeoCAT include species distribution modelling and climate change impact modelling. These are key analyses that can help support Red List assessment (Davis et al. 2012 PLOS), but will be useful for other ecological studies. At a later stage the services of the JASMIN and CEMS clusters will assist the climate change modelling module planned for GeoCAT. In addition, plans are in place to develop other aspects of extinction risk modelling and incorporate these into GeoCAT, thus contributing and advancing this field.

Publications

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Joppa LN (2016) Impact of alternative metrics on estimates of extent of occurrence for extinction risk assessment. in Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology

 
Description The tool had a public release in March 2014 to a general audience, but the impacts during its development (before and during the award) have been far reaching.
1. GeoCAT has now been cited 610 times in the scientific literature (over 558 time since the NERC sponsored release one year and two months ago) and assuming two to ten assessments, is carried per publication indicates well over 1210 - 6100 assessments using GeoCAT to calculate range-based metrics for Red Listing. Furthermore, 2,262 assessments have referenced use of GeoCAT on the IUCN Red List (973 more than last year).
2. Assessment have ranged well beyond plants to other groups in the terrestrial (including moths) and marine environments.
3. GeoCAT is being used by IUCN Red List Unit staff during training sessions and it is recognised as one of a suite of mapping tools used for Red Listing.
4. The last year's (March 2018 to March 2019 web analytics show that GeoCAT has had over 27,000 hits with over 6,000 unique international users (UK, USA, Brazil, Madagascar, etc.), spending on average 7 minutes with the tool.
We will continue to develop the training material including screencasts to promote the use of this tool which will increase its reach and impact for scientists, conservationists, educators and the general public in the future. Also, we envisage that the open source tool and algorithms will allow the research to be taken further by others as well as this research group.
Exploitation Route As above and before
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other

URL http://geocat.kew.org
 
Description The research grant was for the development and public release of GeoCAT (Geospatial Conservation Assessment Tool). GeoCAT is an open source, browser based tool that performs real time geospatial analysis to ease the process of conducting species conservation assessments (see geocat.kew.org). Major achievement from March 2018 to date (March 2019) are: 1) The tool has been cited at least 610 times with 190 citations in the last year 2) A significant paper on Area of Occupancy has been published Lead by authors from GeoCAT and some of which is based on the intial work from this grant see: Moat, J., Bachman S., Field R. and Boyd D. (2018) Refining area of occupancy to address the modifiable areal unit problem in ecology and conservation. Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13139 3) Increased research capacity generated from training for specialists. GeoCAT has been demonstrated many times at IUCN training courses as well as at Kew Gardens.
Sector Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other
Impact Types Societal

 
Title Conservation Assessment Tools in R 
Description A set of tools to help with species conservation assessments (Red List threat assessments). Includes tool for Extent of occurrence, Area of Occupancy, Minimum Enclosing Rectangle, a geographic Projection Wizard and Species batch processing. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact just release 
URL https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/rCAT/index.html
 
Title Developed through the research 
Description The research grant was for the development and public release of GeoCAT (Geospatial Conservation Assessment Tool). GeoCAT is an open source, browser based tool that performs real time geospatial analysis to ease the process of conducting species conservation assessments (see geocat.kew.org). Major achievement from March 2017 to date (March 2018) are: 1) The tool has been cited at least 420 times with 150 citations in the last year 2) A significant paper on Extent of Occurrence has been published featuring authors from GeoCAT and some of which is based on the intial work from the grant see: Joppa, L. N., Butchart, S. H. M., Hoffmann, M., Bachman, S. P., Akçakaya, H. R., Moat, J. F., Böhm, M., Holland, R. A., Newton, A., Polidoro, B. and Hughes, A. (2016), Impact of alternative metrics on estimates of extent of occurrence for extinction risk assessment. Conservation Biology, 30: 362-370. doi:10.1111/cobi.12591 3) Increased research capacity generated from training for specialists. GeoCAT has been demonstrated many times at IUCN training courses as well as at Kew Gardens. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The tool had a public release in March 2014 to a general audience, but the impacts during its development (before and during the award) have been far reaching. 1. GeoCAT has now been cited 420 times in the scientific literature (over 367 time since the NERC sponsored release one year and two months ago) and assuming two to ten assessments, is carried per publication indicates well over 820 - 4200 assessments using GeoCAT to calculate range based metrics for Red Listing. Furthermore, 1289 assessments have referenced use of GeoCAT on the IUCN Red List (574 more than last year). 2. Assessment have ranged well beyond plants to other groups in the terrestrial (including moths) and marine environments. 3. GeoCAT is being used by IUCN Red List Unit staff during training sessions and it is recognised as one of a suite of mapping tools used for Red Listing. 4. An R version of geoCAT has been release: Moat JF. 2017. rCAT: Conservation assessment tools and functions in R. Available from https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/rCAT/index.html 
 
Title GeoCAT 
Description GeoCAT is an open source, browser based tool that performs real time geospatial analysis to ease the process of conducting species conservation assessments (see geocat.kew.org). 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The tool has only just (March 2014) been released to a general audience, but the impacts during its development (before and during the award) have been far reaching. 1. Two other data sources have been added and the number of users has increased which has added value to natural history collections by increasing their effectiveness, access and usefulness. 2. Increasing the impact and usefulness of citizen science collection, through the addition of data sources from INaturalist and Picasa (Google images), as well as the existing services from Flickr. 3. Increasing the effectiveness, access and usefulness of social media for conservation and species observations, by using iNaturalist, Picasa and Flickr for species observations 4. Our web analytics suggests we regularly have 100's of users with several thousand page views and most are returning visitors. The majority if users are from UK, Brazil, Hong Kong and USA. 5. GeoCAT has now been cited 53 times in the scientific literature and assuming more than one assessment is carried per publication indicates well over 100 assessments using GeoCAT to calculate range based metrics for Red Listing. Furthermore over 100 assessments have referenced use of GeoCAT on the IUCN Red List. We will continue to develop the training material and promote the use of this tool which will increase its reach and impact for scientists, conservationists, educators and the general public in the future. Also we envisage that the open source tool and algorithms will allow the research to be taken further by others as well as this research group (see key findings for details) 
URL http://geocat.kew.org
 
Description EU BON/WCMC 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Department UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Building on the success of the NERC release further funding for the tool has been granted to IUCN/WCMC under the EU BON funding umbrella to develop the tool further. The tool now includes:
Collaborator Contribution RBG Kew is a technical consultants on this grant.
Impact Building on the success of the NERC release further funding for the tool has been granted to IUCN/WCMC under the EU BON funding umbrella to develop the tool further. The tool now includes: • Further Integration with other systems i.e. providing an occurrence output file compatible with IUCN's Species Information Service • Addition of other sources of mapping data e.g. google forest cover change map • More control on the import and analysis of multiple species
Start Year 2016
 
Title GeoCAT 
Description The research grant was for the development and public release of GeoCAT (Geospatial Conservation Assessment Tool). GeoCAT is an open source, browser based tool that performs real time geospatial analysis to ease the process of conducting species conservation assessments (see geocat.kew.org). Major achievement to date (March 2017) are: 1) Several public releases of tool from beta to a stable version in March 2014, with many bugs fixed 2) The tool has been coded and enhanced allowing improved research methods and usability. The following features have been implemented within this period of development: o Methodology and interface developed to handle multiple species - a highly requested feature from users. o Other occurrence data sources have been added including the citizen Science project iNaturalist and Picasa images o The ability to record temporal decline of distributions for example based on deforestation o Options to display environmental data from other mapping sources have been added e.g. web mapping server, CartoDB, Google Fusion Tables and KML, which can be easily displayed in the map interface. Also, addition of deforestation layer is available o Behind the scenes improvement for speed, data integration and standardisation 3) Increased research capacity generated from training for specialists. GeoCAT has been demonstrated at many times (at least 50 times since March 2014) at IUCN training courses as well as at Kew Gardens. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact The tool had a public release in March 2014 to a general audience, but the impacts during its development (before and during the award) have been far reaching. 1. Other data sources have been added and the number of users has been greatly increasing which has added value to natural history collections by increasing their effectiveness, access and usefulness. 2. Increasing the impact and usefulness of citizen science collection, through the addition of data sources from INaturalist and Picasa (Google images), as well as the existing services from Flickr. 3. Increasing the effectiveness, access and usefulness of social media for conservation and species observations, by using iNaturalist, Picasa and Flickr for species observations 4. GeoCAT has now been cited 273 times in the scientific literature (over 220 time since the NERC sponsored release one year and two months ago) and assuming two to ten assessments, is carried per publication indicates well over 546 - 2730 assessments using GeoCAT to calculate range based metrics for Red Listing. Furthermore, 273 assessments have referenced use of GeoCAT on the IUCN Red List. 5. Assessment have ranged well beyond plants to other groups in the terrestrial and marine environments 6. GeoCAT is being used by IUCN Red List Unit staff during training sessions and it is recognised as one of a suite of mapping tools used for Red Listing. 7. Funding beyond NERC has been secured for GeoCAT, from within EN Bon and the second major release is expected in 2017. We will continue to develop the training material including screencasts to promote the use of this tool which will increase its reach and impact for scientists, conservationists, educators and the general public in the future. Also, we envisage that the open source tool and algorithms will allow the research to be taken further by others as well as this research group (as the EUBON funding shows) 
URL http://www.kew.org/geocat
 
Title rCAT 
Description A set of tools to help with species conservation assessments (Red List threat assessments). Includes tool for Extent of occurrence, Area of Occupancy, Minimum Enclosing Rectangle, a geographic Projection Wizard and Species batch processing. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2017 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Just released 
URL https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/rCAT/index.html