daniel baird dot com


Edgar shows ecological niches for Australian birds, now and in the globally-warmed future. It also lets bird watchers correct observations of bird species (thereby improving the modelling of birds’ niches). The UI is based around a fullscreen OpenLayers map.

Edgar started in 2012 at the eResearch Centre at JCU. The project aimed at doing four things:

  • source and show australian bird observations on a web map
  • let visitors “vet” those observations (in the sense of detecting and marking the incorrect ones)
  • determine the species’ preferred climate conditions, using the cleaned up set of observations and information about Australia’s existing climate
  • determine where the species’ preferred climate niche will be in the future, using climate models to project future climate, and matching that to species’ preferences.

Our partly-tame academics Jeremy VanDerWal and Lauren Hodgson provided the modelling algorithms, The Amazing Rob did server stuff and arranged for the modelling to happen on-demand, and Tom Dalling handled the data side. I did most of the user interface, which has a few interesting bits:

  • crowdsourcing of the observation cleaning bit
  • showing clustered observations in a way that behaved sanely when zooming
  • stretching the map across the whole screen (sure, it’s been done before, but it was fun doing it with OpenLayers and making it not suck).

It’s called Edgar because of something Tom suggested.. it’s about ravens (as well as every other bird in Australia), and the project code was AP03. So, “Edgar APO3” is kinda like “Edgar A. Poe” in leetspeak, see? Perhaps it’s not completely convincing, but still better than yet another laboured acronym :)

This project

was developed in 2012 and released in August 2012.