New study published on the residual nature of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)


Deep sea corals and sponges caught in a bottom trawl on a commercial vessel fishing off northern Labrador, Canada, in May 2007 (fisheries observer, courtesy of Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Rodolphe Devillers of the Marine Geomatics Lab and a team of scientists from Australia and USA just published a new study looking at the residual nature of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The study criticizes the fact that MPAs are too often created in areas of the ocean showing little economic interest for industries such as finishing and oil and gas. The study can be downloaded for free in Open Access from the Journal of Aquatic Conservation Website. You can also look at the coverage made by the magazine Nature as well as English and French interviews done by Rodolphe for Canadian news medias.

How grandmas can now map the world!

While the name of our lab is “Marine Geomatics Research Lab”, a lot of our activities are not related to the marine world. The second most important research focus from our group is looking at assessing and improving the quality of Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI). This term coined by Michael Goodchild refers to the “the widespread engagement of large numbers of private citizens, often with little in the way of formal qualifications, in the creation of geographic information.” In other terms, VGI is how geographic information can now be gathered by anyone, even by people that have never eared about words like projections, geoid or georeferencing!

While crowdsourcing of geographic information has led to important changes, issues related to the quality of this information remain. This is why our team works on different aspects to assess and improve the quality of VGI. Recently, Dr Arnaud Vandecasteele, post-doctoral fellow in our group, gave a talk on this subject, presenting a new tool he developed to help contributors during the editing process. His presentation is available online and you are encouraged to leave a comment to share your point of view.

2014 ESRI Canada GIS Scholarship Award for Vincent Lecours

Vincent Lecours receiving the 2014 ESRI Scholarship

Vincent Lecours (center) receiving the 2014 ESRI Canada GIS Scholarship Award from Drs Charles Mather (right) and Rodolphe Devillers (left)

Vincent Lecours, graduate student in the Marine Geomatics Lab, has been awarded one of the ESRI Canada GIS Scholarship Award. Those awards recognize exceptional students that work in Canadian institutions known for having a strong multidisciplinary focus on geographic information systems (GIS). The scholarship consists of a one-time payment to the student, a comprehensive package of the latest ESRI desktop software, several educational workbooks and access to ESRI’s Virtual Campus. Vincent Lecours is currently completing a PhD degree in Geography under the co-supervision of Drs Rodolphe Devillers and Evan Edinger, studying the role of scale of analysis on our understanding of cold-water coral ecology in Canada.

A Year of Activities in the Marine Geomatics Lab!

Here is a short review of 2013 for the lab. For more detail, have a look at the long version with external links and pictures here!


  • Welcome to our new lab member Arnaud! He has joined the lab as a post-doctoral fellow working on Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI).
  • The lab also welcomed Jimena. Her Ph.D. will focus on the integration of official and crowdsourced geospatial data (VGI).
  • Vincent, Lara, Rodolphe, and Evan Edinger were awarded a research contract from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador region (DFO-NL) to study cold-water corals in the NL region.


  • Rodolphe, together with Evan Edinger and Trevor Bell, has developed a new graduate course for the Department of Geography. The Marine Habitat Mapping course combines topics such as underwater remote sensing, marine geomorphology, geomorphometry and biotic assemblages. These elements are combined to better investigate marine habitats.
  • Dimitri, Lara and Vincent were among the first ones to attend the new course, together with other members of the Marine Habitat Mapping Research Group of MUN, which is closely related to the lab.


  • The lab received some important visitors! New Democratic Party members of parliament Ryan Cleary and Jack Harris visited Melinda and Rodolphe to discuss the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), in which they are involved.


  • Lara presented her M.Sc. research proposal to the rest of the Department of Geography.
  •  Dimitri presented his research proposal to the Department of Environmental Sciences.
  • Vincent, Lara, Rodolphe and Evan presented the final version of their report to DFO-NL.
  • Congratulations to André Roy on completing his M.Sc. on the mapping of capelin demersal spawning habitat of Northeast Newfoundland!


It’s conference season!

  • Vincent attended the GeoHab (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) international conference in Rome, Italy.
  • Jimena attended the 13th AGILE (Association of Geographic Information Laboratories for Europe) Conference in Leuven, Belgium.
  • Jimena also presented some work at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, in Spain.
  • Daniel and Rodolphe attended the 8th International Symposium on Spatial Data Quality in Hong Kong.


  • Arnaud, Rodolphe and Randal travelled to the other end of the country for the CoastGIS conference that was held in Victoria, BC.
  • In conjunction, Rodolphe and Randal also attended Too Big to Ignore project meetings at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


  • Melinda participated at the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Baltimore, USA.
  • Dr. Brent Hall, director of education and research at ESRI Canada, visited the lab in July.


  • The Department of Geography of MUN was hosting the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers (CAG). Lab members who participated either as attendants or presenters include: Melinda, Lara, Arnaud, Vincent and Rodolphe. Melinda and Vincent both presented some work, Vincent co-chaired a scientific session, and Rodolphe, Vincent and Arnaud participated to the annual meeting of the GISciences Group of the CAG. Rodolphe also participated in the creation of “The St. John’s Declaration”, the aims of which is to advance geographic education in Canada.
  • Rodolphe’s research on VGI (with Jimena, Daniel, and Arnaud) and Evan Edinger’s work on cold-water corals (with Melinda, Vincent, and Lara) were two of the five research clusters highlighted in the Department of Geography’s research report for 2012-2013, that was distributed to all the attendants of the CAG meeting.


  • Welcome to new lab member Katherine Macpherson! She will be using an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to map benthic habitats in Newfoundland.
  • Lara left for Darmouth, Nova Scotia, to work with one of her committee member, Dr. David Piper. Dr. Piper works for the Geological Survey of Canada at the Bedford Institute for Oceanography. Lara will be working there until December.
  • Rodolphe is keynote speaker at the French geomatics conference SAGEO that took place in Brest, France.


  • Congratulations to Cassandra on officially completing her M.Sc. on the use of interactive temporal zoom and pan within a multi-touch geovisual analytics environment!
  • Vincent presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Atlantic Canadian Association of Geographers (ACAG), held in Moncton, New Brunswick.
  • Arnaud started working on the lab’s OpenROV, a build-it-yourself remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
  • Melinda co-organized one of the sessions under MPA Governance, Partnerships & Industry Involvement at the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC3) in Marseille, France.


  • Anne attended the Annual General Assembly of Québec-Ocean, held in Rivière-du-Loup, Québec.
  • Katherine, Vincent, Arnaud, Jimena, Cassandra, and Rodolphe attended the ESRI Canada User Conference in St. John’s.
  • Congratulations to Laura McFarlane-Tranquilla who successfully defended her Ph.D. on seabird winter ecology!


  • Anne presented her work in a meeting with the unit responsible for the realization of the ecological reference framework of the province of Québec at the Ministère du Développement Durable, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP), the ministry in charge of the environment in Québec.
  • Rodolphe and Randal travelled to Hyderabad, India to attend a small-scale fisheries conference at the Centre for Economic Social Studies.
  • Arnaud tested the OpenROV in the deep water tank of the Department of Engineering.
  • Arnaud and Rodolphe have been featured on the MUN’s Gazette for their crowdsourcing approaches.
  • Rodolphe is now cross-appointed with the department of Computer Sciences.
  • Cassandra had a paper published in the International Journal of Geographic Information Science!