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Great Ape atlas

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#1
frax

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My colleagues at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre(UNEP-WCMC) in Cambridge launched a new publication yesterday: World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation. I have been involved a little bit, with a few maps (and GIS analyses) that I have done for a previous publication in the GLOBIO project.

I will let you guys comment on the maps and graphics, but I haven't been involved in the bulk of them. I think it is mostly GIS people preparing the maps, in GIS software.

(I haven't seen the publication yet.)

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More maps here.

We can't talk about this guys, without inserting a cute picture of them as well:
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(more photos here)
Hugo Ahlenius
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#2
JB Krygier

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Ok, all buzzy here on some very good coffee from the co-op down the
street...sorry if this sounds too edgy...

The first thing I noticed about the map was the sea floor terrain. Nice,
but it does not have anything to do with the point of the map.

Then I noticed the terrain on the land - nice too, but you can't see it in
most of the places that matter most - the great ape territories.

Then the colors used for the 4 categories on the map. There may be a
logic here, but it isn't clear. Three value-ish variations (dark red, salmon,
pink) and then, yellow? Maybe the three redish species are related in
some way, and distinct from yellow? Dark red and yellow jump out -
are they more important than the other two species? And then the poor
chimps. Looks like the color in the legend does not match the color on
the map. If I squint, and get out my Sherlock Holmes magnifier, it looks
as if the chimp color is transparent over the terrain (and that has created a
different color on the map). The other colors are not transparent, that I
can see.

Fortunately, we have a north arrow, as it would not otherwise be evident
which way is north.

And the map spanning scale bar. If anything, you might want to get a
sense of the size of the ape ranges, and the shortest segment (2000k)
is significantly wider than any of the territories.

It is a relatively simple fix. I know people like shaded terrain, even if
it dominates the visual hierarchy and has little to do with the data, so
why not keep it? Maybe at least ditch the ocean floor detail, unless there
are maps of aquatic apes in the atlas. Fix the colors (transparency is useful,
to see the terrain in the ape ranges, but messes with the colors); maybe
more qualitatively distinct choices, adjusting value a bit to compensate for
smaller/larger areas (smaller darker or more vivid hues to balance with the
larger ranges?). Shorten the scale bar and make sure it makes sense with
this projection, and bing the north arrow.

The other issue here is, of course, the other maps in the atlas. General
decisions have to be made that span a series of maps, so critiquing one
map in this context may not be entirely fair.

Overall - an ok start, and those adorable do pongids deserve a good map!

jk

#3
Martin Gamache

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One way to adjust the legend is to use samples from the actual map so that the transparency is correctly portrayed in the legend. This is a little bit more difficult to pull off within the GIS environment but makes for a much better legend. The other problem is that the resulting color varies with the background so it will not be consistent.

The print version of the NG Africa map I posted about a few days ago has a great legend that uses a swath of the continent from north to south to pullout different land-uses in context. It uses a lot of space but is very effective.

#4
frax

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JB, fully agree with you. It looks like a fairly quick ArcMap job... The backdrop is the Worldsat shaded relief satellite image thingie from the ESRI Data & Maps CD.

I think I actually have the data, so I could make my own version of that map!

I made maps on a related theme (i think my maps are in the atlas as well) about two years ago (the inset is the distribution of great apes in africa). There are a lot of things in these maps that I would do differently today.
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There is an asian/orangutan map here. Fun facts: this one wasn't QC'd that well, it said organutan and was even printed as a poster until someone spotted it (but there was time to fix it and print it again).
:)

By the way -- on the first (new) map -- it is very hard to see in this low-res version, where the extent of the species ovelap...
Hugo Ahlenius
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http://nordpil.com/
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