Feature request: heat maps and subspecies concatenation

I’d like to suggest a feature to build heat maps of biological diversity more easily. And a feature within that when using atlas circles in a grid pattern, you can change the size of the circles based on relative density of diversity, in addition to being able to make a color gradient on the circles to indicate density, like in the image I uploaded to this comment.

Another feature is that when specifying the taxon group column, to parse out subspecies. Some datasets concatenate genus, species, and subspecies into one line in the taxon group, and with the current version it assumes the subspecies is a separate species. For example, MartesFoina is different than MartesFoinaBunites under the current version

By circle size

By color gradient (Screenshot from your own instructional video of an older version of the FSC BRT)

Subspecies issue example

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Circle sizes

Graduated circle size based on an attribute value can be achieved by current QGIS styling by selecting graduated style of type ‘size’. For example here is a map of ladybird species richness by tetrad for Shropshire:

Here’s an example of the a styling for that:

Trouble is, this styling is for a point dataset, so for this to work for tetrad maps created from the plugin biological recording tool, the circles or squares produced from that tool first had to be converted to points using the centroids tool. I think it would be useful to produce a third output option from the biological recording tool - in addition to the current circles or squares - for atlas maps of ‘points’. Style files could be applied at the point of creation, as they can now (options tab) to achieve the desired effect.

My first thoughts are that this would be a better solution than adding a considerable layer of complexity to the biological recording tool itself to allow users to style graduated circle/square sizes. Better to add this third output option to facilitate existing QGIS functionality.


The plugin does not distinguish species, or any other taxonomic rank - it only recognises different taxa. The taxon field doesn’t have to be a species - it can be any taxon. Sometimes people think that the plugin ‘understands’ genus and sub-species because of the ‘scientific names’ checkbox - but all that does is split taxon names, using spaces as separators, and uses the first word as a group in the taxon tree on the taxa tab. So adding logic to recognise species and subspecies would be a significant amount of work.

Grouping taxa defined as separate sub-species to create a single map for a species can be done by selecting all sub-species in a species and generating a single map. That won’t work for batch generation however. In that case, the best solution would be to pre-process the input file as alluded to in the feature request.

So to undertake the development work required for this, we’d have to be satisfied that this would be a useful feature for a significant number of users. I don’t have that impression at this stage (I think that this is the first request for it) and given that there are ways around it - even if not perfect - I think that this one would have a lower priority than the first. But it is a reasonable suggestion and one that should stay on the wish list.

As far as the subspecies thing is concerned, that is my bad. I had been selecting the wrong column for taxon from my GBIF dataset.

Once you create the third atlas squares/circles/points tool, could you post a video similar to the one made years ago that I screenshotted for the picture I uploaded above, demonstrating all three of the tools? You also glossed over the graduated/color gradient part of that video really quickly so I had to slow your video down to do exactly what you were doing, so a future video should go over that part a bit slower/more thoroughly since that is the part users need help with formatting most.

Great tool, hopefully you can add the updated functionality to QGIS and the video really soon.

Can you also describe how you used the centroids tool? And where I can access the centroids tool (is it a plugin?). I’m new to QGIS if you haven’t figured out yet

Is it the realCentroid plugin? If so I fiddled around with it and got something working, except some points look like archery targets with multiple concentric rings inside instead of just one circle. Also half of the map below a certain latitude wasn’t created in the centroid layer even though I specified to import my color layer I created with the FSC BRT

I haven’t made instructional videos for a while - trouble is software changes and they become out of date quickly. It’s much easier to update the written help than it is to update video resources, so that’s what gets done. You can’t please everyone all the time with videos (or anything else!) and I would encourage anyone to slow the video down and/or pause it to take the time to understand the particular bits they find difficult, as you have done; I think that’s the right approach.

I have logged the ‘point’ output as a feature request (https://github.com/FieldStudiesCouncil/QGIS-Biological-Recording-Tools/issues/44) so the next time we schedule any development work, this will be considered along with other features and bug fixes for prioritisation. Can’t say, at the moment, when that might be as it is not part of a funded project.

It’s on the vector menu. Or just open the plugin toolbox and start typing in ‘centroids’. It’s very easy to use. I did find that I had to save the output to a permanent layer before I was able to get the graduated styling to work - that appears to be a QGIS bug. (This is a QGIS query rather than an FSC plugin query - you might want to check out the general QGIS forums and learning resources.)