We’ve just launched an open-access Python extension for the Atlas of Living Australia’s {galah} tool to help you better access our species data.
Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) drinking from a river

There are many ways of getting data out of the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), including tools such as the Spatial Portal, Biocollect, and EcoAssets. However, getting data directly into your own custom analysis program – a valuable tool for researchers – previously hasn’t been as straightforward. To bridge this gap, Matilda Stevenson, Martin Westgate, Dax Kellie and Peggy Newman created an ALA software package in the R programming language called {galah}. 

{galah} has been designed to be an easy-to-access tool that helps coders, researchers, decision-makers, and citizen scientists better understand and visualise data in the ALA. For example, the first publication citing {galah} was just released, outlining the important need for conservation of marsupials in the north-eastern tropics of Australia. Some notable studies of {galah}’s previous iteration {ALA4R} include tracking the seasonal movement and impact of invasive buffalo across northern Australia, estimating the total (and undiscovered) number of trees on Earth, as well as analysing native and exotic grass groups with different carbon storing capacities (C3/C4) and their relationship with varying environmental gradients. 

The extension of {galah} into Python expands the usability of the tool to allow users to retrieve data in a platform that they may be more familiar with. In 2023, Caitlin Ramsay – an ALA Indigenous Internship student – was the first to use the Python extension of {galah} to understand the expansion of invasive species, both native and introduced, into Australia. Such work could even be extended to other countries as the Python version of {galah} hosts, not only the Australian, but also the Brazilian and Spanish living atlases.

You can access Galah 0.1.0 (Python) here. It’s also now available on the Python Package Index (PyPI). Instructions on how to install, use and explore the features of this package are available at galah.ala.org.au/Python

Check out the Python extension of {galah}, and discover helpful tips & tricks for coding on ALA Labs.

Map created by Caitlin Ramsay using the ALA Python extension of {galah}, showing Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) distribution across Australia each decade since their introduction.