I am totally new to ArcGIS so I'm really sorry if this a stupid question.

I am a conservation biologist and I've got a GDB database, with a bunch of species ranges on it.

The output I desire from this, is a list of countries where the species live. So a list of countries that each ranges covers.

Can anyone tell me how I would go about getting this? I've been googling how to use ArcGIS guides and getting nowhere...

  • +1 for a conservation biology question. How many species are you dealing with? This may help determine whether or not you can use the built-in Select By Location tool under the Selection tab or a more complicated automated approach.
    – Aaron
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 15:56
  • 1
    Thousands. But if there is only a 'slow' way to do it I'd be happy to hear it as well.
    – user24420
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


Overlay analysis is a very common type of problem in the GIS field. ArcGIS 10.2 help has a good description of various overlay analysis methods. In your case, I would begin by performing an identity of the species polygons and the country polygons.

From ArcGIS help 10.2:

Computes a geometric intersection of the input features and identity features. The input features or portions thereof that overlap identity features will get the attributes of those identity features.

From there you can query the attribute table and summarize the results

Additional Information:

An overview of the Overlay toolset

  • 1
    It's worth noting that the Identity tool is only available with the Advanced license. See this response by @PolyGeo to emulate the Identity tool with Basic or Standard licenses.
    – Fezter
    Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 1:20

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