Contact Info

Department of Geography
University of British Columbia
1984 West Mall
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V6T 1Z2

Phone: (604) 822-3534
Fax: (604) 822-6150

Learn about the biodiversity of BC

Three electronic books, including two atlases, have been produced that document the biodiversity of British Columbia. These cover everything from the wildlife species and flora of the province to the ecosystems it supports.

E-Flora BC

E-Fauna BC

Biodiversity of BC

Home Page

Using spatial analysis to explore environment and sustainability

My interests lie in Geographical Information and spatial analysis, including GIScience theory and applications in several fields (e.g. biogeography, health geography).  Geographical Information and spatial analysis includes Geographical Information Science (GIScience), Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and Geographical Information in Society.  I am also interested in remote sensing and its applications in landscape analysis.


My research in Geographical Information has included topics such as error and accuracy in GIS, fractals, digital elevation models, volunteered geographic information (VGI) and applications of GIS. 


In current research, I am looking at the effects of climate change and land use on species, GIS analysis in health geography, landscape analysis in agriculture, and data fusion.


My interest in geographical information emerges from a long-standing interest in geomatics and my past work as a professional land surveyor.  Geomatics includes land surveying, remote sensing, cartography, GIS, satellite systems, photogrammetry, geophysics and more. It is "the discipline of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information" (Wikipedia 2015).


My interest in Geographical Information and biogeography intersect in the production of two online biogeographical atlases of British Columbia, E-Flora BC and E-Fauna BC. These atlases are GIS-based, include volunteered (citizen science) data, and compile up-to-date knowledge about species occurrences in British Columbia, documenting shifts in species ranges as climate changes.  These online atlases are living documents, updated on an ongoing basis.


Read more about the study of Geographical Information.  


I presently have eight graduate students.  Their research focuses on geographical information and includes investigations in biogeography, health geography, and social geography.  Topics include:

  • eDemocracy and democracy
  • pulic participation and the GEOWEB
  • land use influences on endangered species (Salish Sucker)
  • movement ecology, GIS, and African elephants
  • pathogenic species (Cryptococcus gattii)
  • public health and emergency response


In our areas of interest, we assess research questions and problems through a spatial lens, using GIScience theory to guide our work.  We use spatial technologies, remote sensing, modeling and data mining.  We also work with predictive mapping, elliptical time-density models, real-time monitoring, habitat modeling, spatial risk assessment, and field survey work.  In many areas, our research is transformative and sits at the leading edge of GIScience research. See, for example, Jake Wall's work on the conservation of African elephants and Colleen Hardwick's work on eDemocracy. 


Read more about our research here




My teaching focuses on GIScience (Geographical Information Science), GISystems, and Remote Sensing, and includes advanced issues in GIScience and research using GIScience (with examples from crime analysis, health geography, conservation biology, and landscape ecology).  It draws on examples from our research and explores applications in geography and other disciplines. My focus in teaching is on theory informed by practice.


As part of my teaching philosophy, I encourage students to both seek community engagement in their class projects and, via the use of Learning Technologies, to document their learning experience by developing e-Portfolios.  View examples of student ePortfolios here.


Community groups that we have worked with include DERA (Downtown Eastside Residents Association), Richmond Nature Park Society, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the Burnaby Multicultural Society


Read more about my teaching here




July 2015


Congratulations to our summer intern Tony Zhang who is now working part-time for UBC Planning on a GIS mapping project.  Tony is also providing assistance with GIS research in our lab on land use in the Fraser Valley and impacts on species-at-risk.


June 2015


Congratulations to Jake Wall! Tarmo Remmel, chair of the Canadian Association of Geographers GIS Study Group, announced June 10th that Jake is the first place winner of the Canadian Association of Geographers GIScience Study Group and ESRI Canada Award for the best GIS student presentation at the 2015 CAG conference. The title of Jake's presentation was African elephant conservation:  new spatial approaches bring new understanding and is based on his PhD thesis. Co-authors are Brian Klinkenberg, George Wittemeyer, Valeria LeMay, and Iain Douglas-Hamilton.  Tarmo says the ESRI award "is a student license for ArcGIS Desktop with extensions and credits that can be used for Pro and/or ArcGIS Online".


Tony Zhang has joined the Spatial Data Lab as our 2015 summer GIS intern. Tony will be assisting with GIS research analyses conducted in the lab, including data gathering, GIS mapping and data analysis.  In GEO 479 (GIS in Research),Tony's class project focused on a GIS analysis of the effects of dams on salmon on Vancouver Island. . 


Jill Miners, Brian Klinkenberg, and Jordan Rosenfeld presented the following paper at the 2015 AGM of the Canadian Association of Geographers in Vancouver June 2 to June 5:  Factors Influencing the Threatened Salish Sucker in the Fraser Valley:  A GIS perspective.


Jake Wall, Bian Klinkenberg. George Wittemeyer, Valeria LeMay, and Iain Douglas-Hamilton pesented the following paper at the 2015 AGM of the Canadian Association of Geogaphers June 2 to June 5:  African Elephant Consevation:  New Spatial Approaches Bring New Understanding.


May 2015


Master's student Jill Miners has wrapped up her field work on the endangered Salish Sucker and is now analysing reams of field data.  Jill's work involves spatial modeling of Salish Sucker populations and genetic analysis, and is aimed at assessing conservation needs and the impacts of land use on populations.


March 2015


Dr. Jake Wall has now taken up a post doc position at Colorado State University where he will continue his work on GIS, technology and African elephants with Dr. George Wittemyer.  Read more about Jake's elephant work using technology here.


BCIT GIS student Vrish Prahalad has joined our lab for a few months for his course practicum. Vrish will be working on developing new GIS mapping for the biogeographic atlases of BC (E-Flora and E-Fauna BC) using new updated software.  Vrish is an SFU geography grad who specializes in uran planning and GIS.


February 2015


Emily Acheson, currently a Master's student at the University of Ottawa, will be joining our lab in September.  For her Ph.D., she will be working in the area of medical geography and GIS.  In her Master's work, Emily is studying spatial modeling of disease vectors: the mosquitoes and tsetse flies that carry the parasites that cause malaria and sleeping sickness. Her research uses GIS methods to approach disease vector distributions from a macroecological perspective.


Brian Klinkenberg is the invited Keynote Speaker at the annual Spatial Knowledge and Information Canada Conference in Banff, Alberta. February 27-March 1.  He will be speaking on Transformative Research in the Geographic Sciences.  He will also be presenting papers on conservation GIS, including GIScience and African elephant conservation and GIScience and conservation of the endangered Salish Sucker. This conference is the annual gathering of GIS researchers from across Canada. 


January 2015:


Ph.D. Student Jake Wall has just successfully defended his thesis, Geospatial Analysis of African Elephant Movement. Using geospatial technology, including GPS collaring of elephants across Africa, Jake explored the dynamics of elephant movement over several seasons in order to gain insights for protection and management. Funded by NSERC and Save the Elephants, Jake's work will have significant conservation implications, and is considered transformative research in GIS. He is presently back in Africa with a Google team collecting Street View images of Samburu National Reserve.  Jake has already published 3 papers from his Ph. D. work, with a 4th in progress.


Holly Buhler, a graduate student in the GIS master's program at Lund University in Sweden (LUMA-GIS) joins the Spatial Data Lab.  Lund University GIS Centre offers a Master´s program in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) that is a fully internet-based distance learning program. Participants require graduate supervision in their country of origin. Based in the Okanagan,  Holly will be focused on public health. Her research topic will be a spatial analysis of high-acuity response in the Interior Health Region of BC. . The Lund University GIS Program is a collaborative program with the E-GIS project of the European Commission´s Leonardo da Vinci program.




View a map of the village of Klinkenberg in Holland here.

Read about the village of Klinkenberg in Holland here.

Learn about the Dutch painter Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg here.

Read about the Great Comet of 1744, or Comet Klinkenberg, here.

Read about the Hans Klinkenberg Memorial Scholarship, Canadian Institute of Geomatics, here.


Read the "Rules of Thumb for Spatial Data" here.