Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am undertaking a flora species inventory at each of approximately 40 plots. The location of each plot will be recorded with GPS and mapped in a GIS layer. I would like to include the full species inventory (expected to be ~30-40 species per plot) in the attribute data for each plot. Ideally, I'd like to be able to query the plots for an individual species (not all species are expected to occur in all plots).

What is the best way to organise my data? Does each individual species require its own cell (in which case, how should I structure/name the column headings?), or is there an effective way of incorporating the entire list in a single cell (i.e. single column with title 'species list', or something similar)?

Or perhaps I should organise the species data as presence/absence, including species names (or codes) as column headings for all species recorded across all plots?

Help much appreciated.


share|improve this question

I would consider organizing your data into a single feature class where each point/plot is defined with a unique FID and plot number. Perhaps polygons would be more suitable for your data than points. From there, add fields and spp names equal to the number of total species where 1 = presence and 0 = absence. Alternatively, use sample totals rather than presence/absence. Make sure to run a multipart to single part command. The end result will contain all of your data and be easily queried.


share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.