Some tools developed in SANBI for use in biodiversity research

Biodiversity spell checker for South Africa

The files of botanical, zoological and other biodiversity or physical feature names (SANBISpellBot.dic, SANBISpellZooOther.dic, SANBISpellPhys.dicSANBISpellBiodiv.dic) contain all unique names of plant and animal species, subspecies, varieties, genera, families and other ranks currently in the national checklists and various other sources as at the date of each file. This also includes the names of vegetation types from The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (Mucina & Rutherford 2006) and many place names. Sources are listed at the end of the document.

Each Dictionary is basically a Unicode text file with the *.dic extension so that Office 2007 will recognise it as a dictionary file. The Dictionary works in Word, Excel, Access, Outlook and PowerPoint of MS Office 2007 and later. A shortcut for checking spelling is <F7> if you do not know where to find it on the menu. The spell checker only checks the spelling of words. It does not check correct combinations of words. Download the instructions for how to use the spell checkersThere is a database SANBI_BiodiversityNameCheck.accdb available that enables a user to search for names using parts of the genus name and species name, enabling the user to copy and paste names into other applications. It is advisable for databases to include the GenNo and SpNo to avoid ambiguity. Apply to Les Powrie if you want to use this.

GIS and database tools for biodiversity work in South Africa

During the course of preparing the Vegetation map, some GIS tools were developed that have proved to be very useful for ongoing georeferencing of herbarium and museum specimens, and giving feedback to improve the quality of the vegetation map, and of other data in SANBI. They also simplify the use of various older topographic maps of South Africa (for example the 1936 1:500 000 Irrigation map series), 1:250 000 and 1:50 000 maps series. Maps of Namibia (1976,1:1 000 000), Botswana (1965, 1:500 000), Zimbabwe (1975, 1:500 000) and Mozambique (1931 to 1984, 1:500 000 with some 1:250 000 maps where there were no 1:500 000 maps) have already been integrated for use in GIS to facilitate georeferencing of specimens. An extensive gazetteer of over 530 000 records that combines data from over 30 different sources (including National Geospatial Information, Jack Skead's zoo-historical place names, Municipal Demarcation Board, cadastral data (farm names and parent farm names), nature reserves, South African Geographical Names Council, and others) provides a rapid means of locating places on the backdrop of the topographical maps.

Other utilities include MS Access databases and some ArcView 3.x menus, buttons and tools that access those databases, and other tools that include:

  • Displaying and extracting place names from a gazetteer;
  • Displaying and extracting distributions of species by species name, genus, family, collector (giving the possibility of extracting an itinerary) or grid reference;
  • Databases for capturing personal place names and species specimen or observation records, and for finding information from the gazetteer and species distribution data sources;
  • Toggle of display of topographical maps and other selected features;
  • Zoom to scales suitable for different scale maps, features, or South Africa;
  • Clicking on a map to obtain latitude and longitude coordinates that can then be pasted into an email message created by clicking on a table record to give feedback for that specific record in the attribute table;
  • A button that causes the view to pan to a latitude and longitude as entered;
  • Adding latitude and longitude, area and ID to attribute tables.

Citation for spell checkers

Powrie, L.W. 2013. A list of South African botanical names for spell checking. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town. Downloaded from on dd MMM yyyy [specify date downloaded]. 

Powrie, L.W. 2013. A list of South African zoological and other (including fungi and lichen) names for spell checking. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town. Downloaded from on dd MMM yyyy [specify date downloaded]. 

Powrie, L.W. 2013. A list of South African physical feature names for spell checking. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town. Downloaded from on dd MMM yyyy [specify date downloaded]. 

Powrie, L.W. 2013. A list of South African biodiversity terms and common names for spell checking. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town. Downloaded from on dd MMM yyyy [specify date downloaded].

Powrie, L.W. 2013. A database of biodiversity taxon names in South Africa for copy-and-paste into reports or documents. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town. Obtained from SANBI on dd MMM yyyy [specify date obtained].

Citation for georeferencing tools

Powrie, L.W. 2015. SANBI tools for Georeferencing, Species distributions and extensions for ArcView 3.x and other applications. Unpublished guide. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town. Downloaded from on dd MMM yyyy [specify date downloaded]. Internet. 37 pp.

Last updated on 25 April 2018
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