The importance of protected areas for species richness by Universidade Nova de Lisboa

This map crosses the natural protected areas in continental Portugal with the species richness, which is the number of species within a defined region, observed in different groups.

The data was taken from the atlas of several groups of fauna (birds, amphibians, reptiles, bats, and non-flying mammals) and flora, available on the geocatalog of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Institute of Portugal and the Portuguese Botanical Society. The atlas records were represented on a 10 x 10 km UTM grid, registering the presence of more than a thousand different species.

Using ArcGIS Desktop, I aggregated the species by group and converted the grid cells onto its centroids, which are represented in proportion to the richness observed on each one. Then, I exported a map high-quality jpeg with the data from all the groups overlapped. I also exported the layers separately to create an animated gif, which aims to show a glimpse of the different group’s separate distributions.

- the bigger the spots are, the higher the number of species richness is
- the more colors you can see overlapped, the higher the diversity from different groups is.

It is noticeable that inside and near protected areas there is a tendency for higher quantities and diversity of species richness, which is one important bioindicator in ecology.

I am an applied ecologist and currently work for an environmental consulting firm. Although I’ve worked with ArcGIS for some years, only now I am taking my Geographical Information Systems master’s degree at NOVA University Lisbon.

I currently do not have an URL or a professional social media account. However, my work was recently published on ESRI MapBook Vol. 37 (; you can see a sample here: