NGO Conservation International launches Croizat, an Innovative Open-System Software to Map the Geographic Distribution of Animals and Plants
Belo Horizonte, Brazil – A new open-system software package
for the analysis of geographic distribution of animals and plants was launched
this week by Conservation International (CI) in Brazil. This innovative
technology will help the scientific community identify priority areas for
environmental conservation based on geographical patterns of species.
Croizat uses a panbiogeographic approach, one of the main areas of research
of biogeography, which is the study of the distribution of living creatures on
our planet. Before the software was launched, there was no standard,
general-purpose software for the analysis of distributional data under the
panbiogeographic method, which was created by the Franco-Italian botanist Léon
The idea behind panbiogeography is that biotas, or the total of animals and
plants in a particular area, evolve through geography barriers. “The
panbiogeographic method in which this software is based views patterns of
distribution of species as a fundamental aspect of biodiversity,” says Croizat’s
main developer, Mauro Cavalcanti, adding that the identification of these
patterns help to single out areas that are both highly rich in species and
historically important in terms of evolution and distribution of biotas.
The Croizat is based on the same analytical model of many Geographic
Information Systems (GIS), but rather than concentrating on database and
graphics flexibility, the Croizat is designed to perform specialist biological
analyses, many of which are not available from GIS's.
For José Maria Cardoso da Silva, Conservation International’s Vice-President
for South American, this technological innovation is crucial to the
identification and protection of areas rich in biodiversity. “By launching the
Croizat, CI intends to disseminate scientific knowledge for free and to all the
researchers in the field of environmental conservation,” he said. “This is
top-notch software that will contribute greatly to the planning of conservation
The program is written in Python (www.python.org) – an interactive,
object-oriented programming language – coupled with the portable, multi-platform
wxPython interface management library, and other free external libraries also
written in Python and C/C++ (NetworkX, PIL, NumPy, Matplotlib and its Basemap
module). The Croizat is platform-independent, and should run on any PC
compatible with x86 architecture, under GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and MS-Windows.
Some key features:
- An easy-to-use, interactive Graphical User Interface (GUI), with pulldown
menus, dialog boxes, and other standard GUI controls, with almost identical
interfaces on GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Apple Macintosh personal
- Data import in a variety of formats, including comma-delimited text and ESRI
- Locality records are displayed as symbols (squares, circles, crosses, etc)
on the map, with different symbols for each species.
- Optional display of rivers and country boundaries.
- Zoom in and out on areas of interest.
- Maps can be saved as graphic files, or copied to the clipboard and pasted
into other applications.
The Croizat can be downloaded at http://panbiog.infobio.net/croizat
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in
science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth’s
richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human
societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more
than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives
without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit