GIS Logo


My research interest and passion is to use geospatial information to create credible and captivating visualizations. I am constantly frustrated by maps that tell stores that are three-dimensional and temporal in nature. I am working toward the day when these stores move and interact with us in a richer way. To this end, I use a variety of software packages and have created my own software package, BlueSpray, as a platform for geospatial analysis and visualizations.

The focus for my research is how and why species are distributed around our planet and how their distributions may change in the future. This is important to help us make better decisions about how to interact with the natural environmental to ensure that it is maintained in a way that can provide ecological services in the future. Ecological services both help sustain our standard of living and make the world a more interesting and pleasant place to live. These services include; clean water, abundant food, clean air, and beautiful places to visit.

Modeling the potential habitat and current species distributions requires; 1) collecting, integrating, and disseminating data on species locations, 2) modeling potential habitats and species distributions, and 3) visualizing and publishing results. Below is an overview of my activities, for a detailed list of organizations, presentations, and papers, please see my CV.

1. Collecting, Integrating, and Disseminating Data

Understanding species distributions at large extents requires data from a wide variety of sources. Modern computer technology and the Internet allows us to integrate data globally into databases that can then provide access to large databases through the Internet. A growing number of organizations are now creating and maintaining large

These include government agencies, academic institutions, and the public. I've worked with the Taxonomic Database Working Group (TDWG) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) to help improve the quality of geospatial data from a wide variety of sources. As the technical lead of the Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN), I manage the development of the GISIN protocol, database, and web site including working with a variety of international organizations. I am a member of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) which is trying to provide an architecture to allow better access to this growing number of data sources.

As a research scientist with Colorado State University's Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL), I lead the creation of over 20 web sites backed up by seven servers and a number of enterprise level geospatial databases. These web sites range from large systems to integrate millions of data elements into a single, integrated data set, for federal agencies to web sites that make it easy for citizen scientists to share their data ( These web sites are based on the International Biological Information System (IBIS) which provides ground breaking technology in collecting, integrating, disseminating, and mapping geospatial data. The IBIS web site provides a full list of the web sites.

I am now at Oregon State University (OSU) with a new research team that is analyzing the potential impact of future oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic environments. This requires data and models for; the geology below the sea floor, models of potential blowouts, models of the potential extent from an oil spill, models of the existing species ranges, and models for how the oil will impact the distribution and habitat for species. This is a large and complex effort and we are working closely with the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory and a number of other organizations in this effort. A portion of the data sets we have gathered thus far are available at our Spatial Environmental Energy Research web site (SEER).

2. Modeling Potential Habitat and Species Distributions

I have worked with an evaluated a large number of methods and software for modeling potential habitats and species distributions. I have found that each method has it's advantages and disadvantages and we must be careful in selecting the right tool for the job. I have also found that there we are lacking methods that; integrate ecological theory and provide visualizations of a species niche in environmental space. To help fill this gap, I have created the Hyper Envelope Modeling Interface (HEMI). I also feel that we need to be able to visualize these models, and other geospatial topics, in three dimensions and moving through time.

3. Visualizing and Publishing Results

Below are some examples of habitat models I have worked on in the past.

1. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Model

2. Barn Swallow Spatial/Temporal Model

3. Gray whale potential habitat model

4. BlueSpray

BlueSpray is a geospatial research platform for creating new transforms and visualizations. BlueSpray is held by my company, SchoonerTurtles, Inc. and is available under special license for use for research and conservation management. You can download BlueSpray from it's web site and email me for the pass code.