SEDN records Ellenberg demonstration What is this?

G1 G2 Site filter: ??? taxa

FSC Tomorrow's Biodiversity Project Rich Burkmar: [email protected]


The site lists can be filtered by the number of taxa recorded on the site. Enter a minimum number of taxa here and regenerate the lists.


This tool was created to demonstrate and test the utility of applying online visualisation techniques to biological records for vascular plants. It is the result of a collaboration between Dan Wrench (Shropshire County Ecologist) and Rich Burkmar (Tomorrow's Biodiversity, Fields Studies Council) .

Behind the visualisation sits a database of some half a million biological records for vascular plants from the Shropshire Environmental Data Network (SEDN). When you select a site in one of the drop-down lists, the list of unique taxa from that site is compared against a table of Ellenberg Plant Attributes and frequency bar graphs created showing the number of taxa for each of the Ellenberg scores for one or more of the attributes Light, Moisture, Light, Reaction (pH), and Salinity.

You can tailor what you see by selecting which plant attributes to include in the visualisation. You can also limit the analysis to records made in a particular decade from the 1950s onwards. You can superimpose comparable graphs for two sites. You can toggle between numbers and percent of taxa by clicking on the y axis label (a toggle).

There are no quantitative data attached to the records used in the visualisation. A taxon with only one record at a site and in a given time period is not treated differently from a taxon with many records at the same site and time period.

The plant biological records (only those parts required for the visualisation) are stored in a MySQL database table on the TomBio website as are the plant attribute data (imported from the Biological Records Centre spreadsheet). A PhP web service has been created to query this database. A list of sites is generated with a URL like this: api.php?ntaxa=200 (retrieves all sites with 200 or more taxa recorded on them). A summary of Ellenberg scores for all taxa recorded against a particular site is retrieved like this: api.php?site=Attingham Park

The visualisation is coded in Javascript which runs within your browser. It retrieves data, as needed, from the database via the web service (described above) in response to your input. The graphics are created using the Data Driven Documents (D3) javascript library. The user interface is created using the jQuery Mobile javascript library. The user interface is responsive and will work on small format devices, but the D3 graphics have been designed for a large format device (e.g. a laptop or tablet) and will not resize to fit smaller devices. (It would be possible to make the graphs resizable so that they can be used more easily on small format devices.)