Selection of Geographic Information System (GIS) Software for the Mapping of Living Plant Collections

Dawson, Shelley
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University of Delaware
Botanical gardens, as stewards of living plant collections, are given the duty of managing the data concerning their collection. These data are both historical and geographical. Since the 1950s, people have been working to manage their geographic data using a system of computer modeling. This system has evolved into what is now commonly known as a Geographic Information System (GIs). This study looks at the database and mapping software system combinations currently in use at botanical institutions. A compiled list of forty-nine named institutions shows the reader what combinations are in current use. This study is written for institutions that already have a computerized database in place, and are seeking information on choosing a computerized mapping system. A discussion of the history of Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), Geographic Information System (GIS) and computer mapping in general, educates and prepares the reader to become familiar with particular software packages. A literature and history review provides the reader with resources for more information on database systems if they do not currently have one implemented in their institution. Plant mapping professionals rank a series of 20 questions on the importance of computerized mapping software to the institutional needs. The three most commonly utilized mapping software packages were then evaluated on a point-by- point basis to determine which software options most completely fulfills the garden users' stated desires. One software choice was found to be the most flexible for the garden users' stated desires.
Technology , Plant collections , Mapping , Geographic Information System (GIS)