What is Faunist

Faunist is a program to store and analyse observational records of invertebrates. Observations on the distribution of insects and other invertebrates generates a large amount of records, for instance as collected animals, field observations or literature accounts. Each individual record has a site and date of capture or a flower on which the animal has been seen feeding. It is of a certain species and sex. These kind of data contain information on the faunistics and ecology of species. Faunist has been developed to summarize these kind of data and to show overviews of faunistics.

Faunist summarizes data on four areas

  1. Distribution;
  2. Phenology, seasonal activity period;
  3. Observations over years;
  4. Ecology.
Output is presented in graphical and textual form. The first kind of output is graphical, where output is presented in the form of maps, histograms and pie-charts. Maps for an important kind of output. Faunist contains maps of the Netherlands and Belgium internally and links to the EISKaart and DMAP programs for further mapping. EISKaart produces a map of the Netherlands, DMAP plots maps for all over the world. Reference data can be generates and plotted together with the species data. The distribution of one species can easily be compared with another species, or the distribution of its genus, or the distribution of sand soils.

Textual output is presented in the form of statistical summaries, such as means and ranges. To overview distribution, data are counted per country. To overview activity period, range, peak and median activity period are given. In a report option (Species->report), these textual reports can be generated for a number a species at once. This provides faunistic base information to include in keys. In addition, statistical tests can be performed to statistically test for differences in, e.g., distribution or activity period. If enough observations are present, cluster analysis can be performed and similarities in distribution among species can be detected.

The input to the program are observation and capture records in ASCII files, each on a separate line with field number and order to be defined by the user in a file. To make the file explaining the order and number of fields, a Format Wizard is added, which uses questions and answers to build the file. The program has its own privileged data format, still in ASCII files. Records in the priviliged format can be maintained by the program.

Faunist consists of two types ofwindows: a main window that is displayed at start up and that shows the species list and a faunistic window that contains the data for (a group of) species. The possibilities of both are shortly described in the following paragraphs, but extensive overview is present in the Faunist help files.


Faunist: hoofdscherm

Figure 1. The Main Window of Faunist, with important actions.


Main window

The main window appears when Faunist is started up. The aim of the main window is to provide acces to the species lists, in order to display faunistics and to input records. In addition, input from arbitrairy record files is facilitated in the main window. These record files can be transformed into the Faunist data format using Input|Split data file or the records in the file can be displayed and analysed via Show|Other. The structure of an arbitrairy record file is described in a format file. The format file can be made using the Format Wizard. The faunistics of files in the Faunist format can be viewed by a simple double click on the species name in the list. Faunist will launch a faunistic window with the records from that species. When multiple species need to be analysed simultaneously, construct a file that references these species files, the ALL-file. Full species names can be defined in the ALL file. How to make an ALL file is described in the program manual and help files. ALL files are read by the system by Show|ALL file.


Faunistc Window

Faunist shows a faunistic window to display the results of faunistic analysis (figure 2). The menu of the faunitic window provides access to the the faunistic results. Most of the menus start with a part that displays the records in a graphical way, than a part follows that summarizes these record numerically and the last part provides options to change the settings of graphical display and numerical output.


Faunist: faunistisch scherm

Figure 2. A faunistic window of Faunist with characteristics and options.


  1. The first menu, species, contains entries to request the underlying records and to make summaries of these data. It also contains entries to printor save maps and histograms.
  2. The second menu, map, contains entries to display geographical information like map plotting, counts per country and red lists. By loading reference data, maps of two species can be plotted simultaneously, or data on the soil composition can overlay the species distribution. This forms a simpe GIS system.
  3. The third menu displays information on the activity period of species. Single and double histograms can be displayed, and if an ALL file is used, the activity periods of multiple species can be plotted simultaneously. The activity period is described by its quartiles, thus providing information on the main period and the tails of the activity period.
  4. The number of records per year is displayed by the fourth menu. The options allow the user to define first and last year and the number of years to put in a single histogram bar.
  5. The fifth and sixth menu overview ecological data, using a coding system for the site of capture and data on the plant or flower visited.
The mouse buttons bring two features directly to use. A click on the right mouse button shows a selection dialog to select reference data. These data are plotted as an overlay on the data displayed on screen. This feature in enabled for the map, activity period and year menus. A double click of the left mouse button shows the grahical options when a histogram is displayed. Using these options, the way the data and reference data are displayed is changed. For instance, you can quickly add a moving average.


14 october 2000


Last updated 31.12.2004