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Fridays, 03–31 October 2014 (5 weeks), at 08:30–11:30, in Bren 3035 ("the GIS Lab")


Course Description

A series of intensive lab sessions focused on specific computational languages (e.g., Python, R, shell) and tools (e.g., GDAL/OGR, InVEST, MGET, ModelBuilder) applied to the spatial analysis of environmental problems. ESM 263 (or consent of instructor) is an absolute prerequisite.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students are able to demonstrate a proficiency in the following advanced GIS skills: programming with ArcPy, R, Open-source GIS, Rmarkdown, InVEST, MGET, Online GIS. At the end of the course students will be able to develop spatial questions, design and conduct final group project using one of the advanced GIS skills learned during the lab section of the course.


(150 total points)

The 5 lab assignments (10 points each) are worth 50 points total. The are due at 08:00 on the Wednesday following the lab in which they were assigned. All homework will be posted to your github and detailed instructions will be reviewed in Week 1 lecture.

The final group project is 100 points total and a Project Proposal is due Friday October 10 at 4 PM. The final report is due Friday, November 7 at 4 PM. Please refer to the final report rubric (PDF) for specific grading details.

Course Outline

Week 1, Oct 3: Course Intro & Advanced Model Builder (Best; Frew)

  • Course Intro - Weekly lab topics, final project & grading

  • Lecture 1:

    • Introduction to Programming in ArcGIS
      • ArcGIS Model Builder - > Python
    • Intro to Github
    • Programming with ArcPy
  • Lab 1: Wind Energy Lab

Support materials:

Week 2, Oct 10: Python Programming and Open-Source QGIS (Best; Frew)

  • Part I: Python programming (Best)

  • Part II: Open-source QGIS (Frew)

Week 2 has a tight schedule.

Week 3, Oct 17: Extending ArcGIS with InVEST Ecosystem Services (Wedding)

Week 4, Oct 24: Extending ArcGIS with MGET Species Distribution Modeling (Best; Wedding)

  • Lecture 4a: Guest speaker (Larry Crowder) Spatial ecological analysis and OBIS SEAMAP (Spatial Ecological Analysis of Megavertebrate Animal Populations)

  • Lecture 4b: Introduction to MGET (Marine Geospatial Ecology Tools) applications, CA case study example and review for Species Distribution Modeling Lab

  • Lab 4: Species Distribution Modeling Lab using MGET

See wk4 details.

Week 5, Oct 31: Publshing Maps Online (Frew; Best; Wedding)

Final Group Project

For the final group project assignment, you will submit a written report based on analysis with a geospatial tool, introduced in ESM 296-4F, in the following topical areas:

  • Ecosystem service evaluation

    • Pick an ecosystem service. See InVEST manual: recommend only Coastal Vulnerability model for California counties / area of interest.
  • Species distribution modeling

    • Pick a species, identify observations available through GBIF (map of locations for the chosen spp).

For more details on submitting your project proposal, see project