CliMAS Suitability

Visualising climate space and distribution of Australian Terrestrial Vertebrates



Projected future suitable climate space for Koalas in 2085 under "business as usual" conditions The CliMAS Suitability site provides users with access to projected environmental suitability maps for Australian terrestrial vertebrate species under various climate change scenarios.

Currently there is a general lack of engagement and knowledge transfer between professional researchers and end-users of research (general public, conservation managers, decision-makers, etc.). This is reflected in a general lack of acceptance and acknowledgement by the public and stakeholders of the potential impacts of climate change, particularly on biodiversity.

Recently, researchers have begun to endeavour to make the results of their research public, however there is a scarcity online tools that display species distribution data. The CliMAS Suitability site provides a tool that reuses data available with Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the Tropical Data Hub to allow a broad range of end-users to explore the potential impacts of climate change on terrestrial vertebrate species in Australia.


The project produces both current and future climate suitability data for each species. Users visiting the project website can browse visual representations of both datasets and download data from the site or from the Tropical Data Hub.

The data is a set of current and future climate suitability maps for each species. These use the occurrence records cleaned by experts and the MaxEnt algorithm to calculate climatological sensitivities for the species, then use those sensitivities to map climate/species suitability across Australia. Future climate data is projected using climate change scenarios described by the IPCC AR5 report and consolidated across a number of climate models, such that a climate suitability map is available for each intersection of a climate scenario and year modelled.

The datasets represent species distributions based on occurrence records from ALA prior to November 2012.


The system consists of two main parts:

  • a back-end server that performs the modelling calculations - the code here consists of bash. R and Java.
  • a front-end server that gives access to the information generated by the back-end server - the code here consists of PHP and uses
    • a PostgreSQL database for holding the species, genus, family, and taxa information,
    • a MapServer instance for serving the maps generated by the modelling in the back-end server
    • the JavaScript Library, Leaflet, for the interactive maps.

The source code can be obtained from Documentation for using the code can be found in the repository's wiki pages. This code is for both the CliMAS Suitability and the CliMAS Biodiversity tools.


The source code is licensed under a BSD 3-Clause Software Licence.


This project is supported by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program and the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Super Science Initiative, as well as through the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF).

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