Project promotion materials:

Software is available at:

Programming language(s):

PHP, javascript, openlayers, mapserver

Project Members:

Marianne Brown (Project Manager,

Adam Fakes (Developer,

Daniel Baird (Developer,

ANDS Contact:

Andrew White (

Project Status:


Tropical Data Hub - Tools development

James Cook University

Project Description

Currently there is a general lack of engagement and knowledge transfer between professional researchers and end-users of research (general public, conservation managers, decision-makers, etc.). This is reflected in a general lack of acceptance and acknowledgement by the public and stakeholders of the potential impacts of climate change, particularly on biodiversity.

Recently, researchers have begun to endeavour to make the results of their research public, however there is a scarcity online tools that display species distribution data. The CliMAS site provides tools that reuses data available with Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the Tropical Data Hub to allow a broad range of end-users to explore the potential impacts of climate change on terrestrial vertebrate species in Australia.

The CliMAS tool suite aims to inform end-users of the potential impact on climate change on the biodiversity of Australian terrestrial vertebrates in a manner that makes the information relevant to them. The information is presented from three different viewpoints:
• CliMAS Suitability: Species viewpoint – for those users with an interest in particular individual animals species;
• CliMAS Biodiversity: Group viewpoint – for those users interested in impacts on a particular genus, family or taxa; and
• CliMAS Reports: Region viewpoint – for those users with an interest in a geographical/management area.

CliMAS Suitability uses vertebrate observation records from the Atlas of Living Australia database to generate current and future species distribution models. These are built for each of 4 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs, analogous to greenhouse gas emission scenarios) using the mid-point of 18 global climate models (GCMs) at decadal time steps between 2015 and 2085.

Observations records retrieved from the Atlas of Living Australia's (ALA) database have been filtered to exclude records with obvious issues. The vetted bird observations were obtained from the Edgar project (ANDS funded AP03). Expert researchers from James Cook University vetted the data for mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Only species with >10 unique location records are modeled. The research champion, Dr. Jeremy VanDerWal, provided the climate data used.
Climate suitability maps for a species represent what scientists call a Species Distribution Model. These models show the relationship between where species have currently been observed and the climate at that location. Once the relationship between climate and observations is known, it can be projected into the future using GCMs. The current and future climate suitability maps are displayed by the CliMAS Suitability tool.

Biodiversity maps are created by ‘stacking’ the climate suitability maps for the chosen group of species and counting the number of species that are shown to have suitable climate in each area of the map. The CliMAS Biodiversity tool displays both current and future biodiversity maps.

CliMAS Suitability and CliMAS Biodiversity shows all potentially suitable climate space, even if the species has not been observed there, or could not realistically move there in the future. We show this because species can be relocated, intentionally (sometimes for their preservation) or unintentionally (where they may become pests).

The final tool, CliMAS Reports, uses the ALA observation data, the climate data and the climate suitability maps to generate a report showing the projected changes in annual mean temperature and rainfall for a chosen region. The Reports tool can provide reports for all IBRA and NRM regions as well as for states and territories.

Data Type:

Input Data:
Species occurrence data from Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, JCU and Atlas of Living Australia (ALA).

Output Data:
Predicted future distribution maps for selected species - Maps of predicted biodiversity hotspots