An analysis common to modern population genetics is that of finding ecological distances between objects on a landscape. The estimation of pairwise distance derived from spatial data is a computationally intensive thing, one that if you are not careful will bring your laptop to its knees! One way to mitigate this data problem is to use a minimal amount raster area so that the estimation of the underlying distance graph can be done on a smaller set of points. This example provides a simple solution using convex hulls. Jump below for the complete example.
A raster is essentially an image, whose pixel size correspond to a particular spatial extent and the data contained within each pixel represents a particular feature on the landscape. Common rasters are DEM’s (measuring elevation), rainfall, temperature, buildings, etc. In R, it is common to think of rasters as matrices whose values measure some feature on the landscape. In this section, we will examine how to acquire, load, manipulate, and extract data from raster objects.