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As part of my Google Summer of Code, I am also working on another package for R called rvertnet. This package is a wrapper in R for VertNet websites. Vertnet is a vertebrate distributed database network consisting of FishNet2MaNISHerpNET, and ORNIS. Out of that currently Fishnet, HerpNET and ORNIS have their v2 portals serving data. rvertnet has functions now to access this data and import them into R data frames.

Some of my lab mates faced a difficulty in downloading data for Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma spp. ) due to large number of records (220k+) on ORNIS, so decided to try using rvertnet package which was still in development that time. The package really helpe and got the results quickly. So while ecploring that data I came up with this case study.

So here to get data for Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) which is distributed in eastern USA, we use vertoccurrence function and specify taxon we are looking for as Blue Jay with t=”Cyanocitta cristata” and we need to specify this is bird species with grp=”bird” since currently we have to access the data form three different websites of VertNet for Fishes, Birds and Herps(Reptiles and Amphibians). This fetches us all the records for Blue Jay. Now we want to get discard the records without Latitude and Longitude values so we use subset function on the data with Latitude !=0 & Longitude != 0. This gives us all geocoded records for Blue jay which then map using maps and ggplot packages like we did in earlier post.

library(rvertnet)
bluej1=vertoccurrence(t="Cyanocitta cristata",grp="bird")
bluej2=subset(bluej1,Latitude !=0 & Longitude != 0)

library(maps)
library(ggplot2)
world  = map_data("world")
ggplot(world, aes(long, lat)) +
geom_polygon(aes(group = group), fill = "white",
color = "gray40", size = .2) +
geom_jitter(data = bluej2,
aes(Longitude, Latitude), alpha=0.6, size = 4,
color = "red") +
opts(title = "Cyanocitta cristata (Blue Jay)")


The final output of the code snippet is as following.

Now let us put Blue Jay and Scrub Jay side by side on the map to see how they are distributed in North America.  This is same as the earlier code except that we get data for both Jays and while plotting we use additional geom_jitters for the other Jay with a different color to distinguish the two. Also not the reduction in the size from 4 to 1 in order to make the points clearly visible

library(rvertnet)
bluej1=vertoccurrence(t="Cyanocitta cristata",grp="bird")
bluej2=subset(bluej1,Latitude !=0 & Longitude != 0)
scrubj1=vertoccurrence(t="Aphelocoma",grp="bird")
scrubj2=subset(scrubj1,Latitude !=0 & Longitude != 0)

library(maps)
library(ggplot2)
world = map_data("world")
ggplot(world, aes(long, lat)) +
geom_polygon(aes(group = group), fill = "white", color = "gray40",
size = .2) +
geom_jitter(data = bluej2,
aes(Longitude, Latitude), alpha=0.6, size = 1,
color = "blue") +
opts(title = "Blue Jay and Scrub Jay") +
geom_jitter(data = scrubj2,
aes(Longitude, Latitude), alpha=0.6, size = 1,
color = "brown")

The final output of the code snippet is as following.