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Spatial Ecologist and GIS Manager

Recently GoGeomatics interviewed  Ted Elliot of LGL Limited environmental research associates to help better explain and define what a Spatial Ecologist and GIS Manager’s role could be. A key to LGL’s success has been the stability of the company, resulting in low staff turnover. Several staff members have been with LGL for 30 years or more. This experience enables LGL to complete assignments efficiently, on time, and within budget, and with a high degree of scientific competence.

Mr. Elliot, thank you for taking the time to share with our Geomatics audience and welcome to the GoGeomatics Career Blog.  Lets begin ,

Why did you get into Geomatics?

Spatial analysis [has long been used] in ecology and the technology developed enough to have desktop GIS programs.

According to your online bio on [lgl.com/en/staff-directory], we noticed that you have a great deal of experience in all stages of aerial and vessel-based surveys for marine mammals. Could you tell us a little more about how this type of data is acquired?

Dedicated biologists and their assistants are placed onboard survey aircraft or research vessels to record the numbers, species and behavior of marine mammals and birds. A variety of methods are used: audio records which are then later transcribed, handwritten coding sheets, tablet PCs and PDAs.

What have you enjoyed most about your current job?

Mix of field work and data analysis.

What project(s) are you currently involved with?

Large environmental assessment of a proposed mine in Nunavut that has involved spatial modelling, field surveys and determination of impacts from development for terrestrial and marine development on birds and marine mammals respectively.

What are some of your “go to” Geomatics skill sets?

Spatial modelling, programmatic routines for analysis, database design

Which software packages have you used most often?

MapInfo and ArcGIS, Microsoft Excel, Splus, Idrisi

Do you have any advice for recent graduates looking for their first GIS job?

Get a firm background in programming and databases, know how to extend software capabilities, be willing to keep learning, ask questions and think laterally.

What type of non GIS related skills are most valuable for an employee in your industry?

Communication skills, enthusiasm for the work, patience

As a freshwater and marine ecologist, what are some of the upcoming trends in GIS and Remote Sensing in your field?

The biggest trends I see are the continued development of remote monitoring methods (satellite tags with data uploading, sophisticated multiparameter sensor tags – eg. water depth, metabolism, behavior, ambient marine conditions) as well as incorporation of newer technologies (acoustic tracking, UAV).

What are some of the major ways that GIS is being used to preserve ecologically sensitive areas such as the Arctic?

I would say the most important things are capturing data in an unbiased way, allowing large quantities of existing data to be utilized relatively easily once it’s in a digital form, sophisticated modelling and analysis techniques and quantitative assessments instead of qualitative assessments.

Once again we would like to thank Mr. Elliot for taking the time to share with us and encourage you to go check out the Geomatics work being done at LGL Limited environmental research associates. We would also remind you that GoGeomatics is your best place to help you build and network your own professional Geomatics career and encourage you to get involved in the discussions on the GoGeomatics Forum.

If you or someone you know is involved in Geomatics and would like to share your experiences with us then we would love for you to contact us.

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