Using the Atlas

The Map Page


When you go to the atlas page, the default map displays 10 km squares where any species has been found for any time period. Use the "Species" drop-down menu to choose a particular species. Changing a selection in any of the drop-down menus causes a new map to be drawn.


The "Map type" drop-down menu allows a choice between showing squares with county lines behind them (the default) and not showing these lines.


The "Time period" drop-down menu has five choices. The default choice of "all" draws the maps based on the complete set of records. The four other choices allow for examination of just part of the records. These choices are: records from the current year; records for the past 2 years (2018-19); records for the past 5 years (2014-19); and records for the past 10 years (2010-19).


Between the "Species" and "Time period" drop-down menus is a legend showing how the colours given to the 10K squares are determined. A square is green if there is an observation in 1999 or later and there is also an observation before 1999. A square is yellow if there are only observations in 1999 or after. A square is red if the only observations are before 1999.


If the "Time period" choice is anything other than "all", the restriction on the set of records being mapped causes all squares to be yellow (as all of the observations being mapped are for years after 1999).


Just below the drop-down menus is a line of information about the data currently beind displayed on the map -- specifically the number of records, the number of squares where that species has been found, and the earliest and latest years for which we have data. For example, when the map initially loads, this line may report something like "450,000 records in 3,000 squares from 1800 to 2019."

Map Controls


Zoom in or out on a map by using the scroll wheel on your mouse. Alternatively, go to the "+ -" symbol (middle edge of the screen). Click "+" to zoom in, and "-" to zoom out. When you zoom in a lot, the squares will below transparent to allow map labels for cities, roads, etc. to be seen clearly.


To change the part of the map that is at the centre of your screen (i.e., to pan or drag the map), hold down the mouse button and move the cursor in the direction you want the map to move.


At the top left of the map you will see a picture of the species to which the currently-displayed map relates (except if "all species" is being displayed). Click on this picture to enlarge it.


At the top right of the map, there is a button provided by Google Maps which make the map occupy your full screen, i.e, the menus occupying the top quarter of the screen will disappear. To make them reappear, click on this button again. Immediately below this button is the "pegman" or "street view" button. Drag and drop the pegman on to the part of the map where you would like to see a street-based photo of the area. This can be useful in finding suitable habitat in an area where you have never been -- or just to have fun looking at the picture of your house.


Perhaps you want to notify a friend about a particular map. This is easy to do because each map has its own special link ("URL"). To see the URL for a particular map, click the button just above the map labelled "reload map; display map link in browser" ; then copy the contents of the URL bar and paste it in a message to your friend. Your friend can also paste this information in his or her browser's URL bar to go to that specific map in the atlas. A second purpose of this button is to reload a map which is displaying incorrectly, e.g., only the Google base map has loaded, without any squares shown at all.

The Information Window

Click on any of the squares on the map to bring up an information window, which provides links to additional data. The title of that information window shows the square that has been clicked on and the county or counties in which the square is located. Counties are shown by four-letter abbreviations; the full names corresponding to these abbreviations are provided in this spreadsheet.


In the information window, clicking on one of these "Display Records" links will display the underlying observations (year, square ID, and the observation ID number) for that square. A link just below that will display records for the entire province. Observers who have reported data to the various atlas projects over time are invited to check their records against ours.


Another link in the information window goes to a graph showing the trend over time (last 36 years) in the number of observations in that square and in the whole province. Of course, this data does not just reflect changes in the abundance of a species over time; variations in observer effort over time are also a factor.


If the species is "all species", the information window displays four links for species lists. The user can choose between a list for that square and a list for the province. The user can also choose whether to display the species in the order shown in the drop-down menu or by order of rarity (with the rarest species in that geographic area appearing at the top of the list). The all-species information window also displays a link to a topographic map of that square, although these maps are not available for some parts of Northern Ontario.