Mapping of sample collection data: GIS tools for the natural product researcher
Scientists engaged in the research of natural products often either conduct field collections themselves or collaborate with partners who do, such as botanists, mycologists, or SCUBA divers. The information gleaned from such collecting trips (e.g. longitude/latitude coordinates, geography, elevation, and a multitude of other field observations) have provided valuable data to the scientific community (e.g., biodiversity), even if it is tangential to the direct aims of the natural products research, which are often focused on drug discovery and/or chemical ecology. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been used to display, manage, and analyze geographic data, including collection sites for natural products. However, to the uninitiated, these tools are often beyond the financial and/or computational means of the natural product scientist. With new, free, and easy-to-use geospatial visualization tools, such as Google Earth, mapping and geographic imaging of sampling data are now within the reach of natural products scientists. The goals of the present study were to develop simple tools that are tailored for the natural products setting, thereby presenting a means to map such information, particularly via open source software like Google Earth.