Being productive in GIS means having GIS tools, in this case, applications to do the work. Here are a few options that we use.

ESRI Contribution to Berkeley Natural History Museum Consortium

With the lion’s share of the commercial market for GIS software, ESRI produces the ARCGIS suite of applications (ArcView, ArcMap, ArcCatalog, etc). MVZ researchers and students now can benefit from the Conservation Program’s generous donation of software for GIS work, cartography, spatial analysis. Lots of useful scripts and extensions exist from the huge users base. Desktop installations with campus network access are available. Contact Michelle Koo.

If you use one of our installations of ArcGIS, then you must acknowledge the Conservation Program’s contribution in any of the resulting publications or posters (analysis or map figures). Please see Michelle for wording suggestion or a copy of the logo (above), if needed.

If you are a UC Berkeley student or affiliate, you may request a free one-year Education License via this form (you will be directed to a new site).

See the Tutorial page for more resources to learn and use ArcGIS and other GIS software.

Free GIS Software

*Our favorites up top!

*Quantum GIS Unix, Linux, PC & MAC — If the learning curve for GRASS is a little too much, try QGIS, also open source, supports  GRASS plugins and has a growing users base. It is fast becoming my recommendation for Mac users as an all-around GIS program. It’s also what I recommend for anyone who does not have the bucks to spend or access to the ESRI-licensed ArcGIS suite. We have tutorials for QGIS.

*Google Earth / Pro Linux, PC & MAC — What it lacks in spatial analysis chops, it makes up for great visualization tools and easy to use format. Pro version is now free with registration.

*DIVA-GIS PC mainly (a MAC compiler exists but no guarantees)— Free GIS application specializing in analyzing species distribution and climate data; includes tools for modeling distributions (Bioclim, Domain) and evaluating models.

LandSerf Unix, Linux, PC & MAC — A Java-based program so runs in any environment that supports Java (e.g. Linux, Unix, too). Fully functional GIS application with a new version coming soon that will allow macro programming and map algebra.

GRASS GIS Unix, PC & MAC — Stands for Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, an open-source application that is constantly being improved (since 1982). Natively Unix, but available for PC now. Powerful.

ArcExplorer PC & MAC — Lightweight Java, ArcView-like program for data visualization, spatial and attributes queries, and map making. Check for the version that works best for you.

uDIG Linux, PC & MAC — User-friendly Desktop Internet-based GIS program; open-source and somewhat ESRI-like GUI.

SimpleDEMViewer MAC — As it says, simple DEM viewer where you can show routes, elevation profiles and areas in simple, easy formats and many different projections; very pretty.

GIS Tools and Other Cool Stuff

Hawths Tools [DEPRECATED]– Lots of useful tools for ecologists in this ArcGIS 9.x extension.
If you are using ArcGIS, use the standalone app that is powered by R and ArcGIS Hawth’s Geospatial Modelling Environment


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