SCGIS Scholars

The board

Herivololona Mbola Rakotondratsimba

2013 Program

  • Tsiadana, Madagascar

  • As a GIS spatial analyst, my main responsibility is to work directly with researchers within Association Vahatra. The current large-scale project is the production of an atlas to Malagasy land vertebrates.  In order to reach this goal I update the existing database, currently approaching 60,000 records. Further, I assure the integration of data from recent fieldwork and the verification of spatial georeferenced points or localities. I produce different types of maps (combinations of different parameters of vegetation and altitude) as base maps for overlaying vertebrate species distribution for the atlas, Associated with each species, I conduct modeling analysis with MaxEnt software, to understand different aspects of their distribution. The greatest challenge with the atlas project is that it is interdisciplinary (concerning four classes of vertebrates: amphibian, reptiles, birds and mammals) and the associated massive dataset. It will be a hitherto unrivaled synthesis of research conducted concerning Madagascar vertebrates, many of the species of considerable conservation concern. With regards of these aspects, the atlas is a good example of research valorization for biodiversity conservation.   As a side note, at the start of the atlas project, we planned to include species distribution mapping, accompanied with habitat suitability and climate change forecasting for each species. Unfortunately, due to problems with the lack of species biotic interactions variables and the spatial scales constraint, we are unable to ensure the accuracy of the climate change forecasting. In fact, we decide to exclude this section from the atlas and reserve it as a future project. Through the proposed SCGIS training program, I want to deepen my capacity to resolve this problem and I want to benefit from the expert assistance during the two GIS conferences

    Biologist by training, I was a graduate of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, with an MSc in Plant Biology and Ecology. In 2008, I obtained training by REBIOMA Project WCS Madagascar, about the use of DIVA GIS and MAXENT programs as tools for suitable habitat modeling for different species. This training was helpful for me to finalize my master thesis (focused on the “Biology and ecogeographic studies of the wilds yams”). (focused on the “Biology and ecogeographic studies of the wilds yams”). This training can be seen as a starting point of my interest in GIS applications. From 2008 to 2010, after my master thesis, I held a position as a junior researcher at the Crops Wilds Relatives - CWR Project based in Madagascar. My role was to conduct fieldwork with a team for data collection, and then assist researchers in their modeling analysis work. For georeferencing information, we used ArcGIS desktop 9.2 version, DivaGiS and Maxent program to produce distribution map and habitat suitability modeling. In 2010, I received a six-month scholarship funded by Food Security Center Program at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, which allowed me to deepen my knowledge about the use of spatial analysis and modeling. From 2011 until today, I am working as a GIS spatial analyst consultant at the Association Vahatra, Antananarivo. Currently, my task is concentrating on the realization of the atlas project, mentioned above, and focused mainly on the use of spatial analysis and habitat modeling of terrestrial fauna.