Ultimately, what I am trying to do is calculate overlap between (1) polygons of a species' range and (2) polygons of Protected Areas. There can be multiple overlapping polygons for the range (e.g. breeding vs. non-breeding range), so I simply want to perform a union such that there is just one Feature made up of multiple polygon geometries (with no overlaps). I tried the following:

var spRange = ee.FeatureCollection('users/rasenior/Necrosyrtes_monachus');
var rangeUnion = ee.Feature(spRange.union().first()); 

But when this is mapped as follows:

Map.addLayer(spRange, {color: 'blue'}, 'original');
Map.addLayer(rangeUnion, {color: 'green'}, 'union');

Output of FeatureCollection union in GEE

It seems that the union is only a sliver of one tiny section of the overall range. Why?

Possibly related: I've encountered a lot of problems for this particular species, which I think might be due to the geometry becoming messy when I upload to GEE. Specifically, one of the features becomes a GeometryCollection, containing both LineStrings and Polygons. I have no idea why, nor how to remove the LineStrings (or convert them to Polygons?).

Script here: https://code.earthengine.google.com/?scriptPath=users%2Frasenior%2Ftest%3AgetSpRange

UPDATE 1: it's nothing to do with the weird geometry. I have now resolved that issue (use 'users/rasenior/Necrosyrtes_monachus_fix') such that all geometries are Polygons or MultiPolygons. But, alas, a union of the FeatureCollection still results in the sliver seen in the screenshot.

UPDATE 2: now that the FeatureCollection is free of weird geometries I was able to export it as a shapefile to inspect in ArcGIS. The FeatureCollection is made up of four Features, and the green sliver in the screenshot corresponds to the fourth of these. I don't know why this is the only thing being returned by union. All I can say is that the fourth Feature is the only one with a Polygon geometry, whereas the other three Features have MultiPolygon geometries.

1 Answer 1


As alluded to in my second update, the problem stems from union only considering Polygon Features, and not the MultiPolygon Features.

I solved the problem by combining all Polygons of all geometries into one single MultiPolygon Feature:

// Break each feature into constituent geometries
var polyFt = ee.List([spRange
    .filter(ee.Filter.eq('geotype', 'Polygon'))
var multiFt = spRange    
    .filter(ee.Filter.eq('geotype', 'MultiPolygon'))

// Combine all Polygons
var spRangeCombi = ee.FeatureCollection(

For which union now works as expected:

// Try union again
var spRangeUnion = ee.Feature(spRangeCombi.union().first());
Map.addLayer(spRangeUnion, {color: 'pink'}, 'union'); 

Script here (same link as in question, now updated).

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