ViewShedR: a new open-source tool for cumulative, subtractive and elevated line-of-sight analysis

Eitam Arnon, Assaf Uzan, Michal Handel, Shlomo Cain, Sivan Toledo, Orr Spiegel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many environmental and ecological studies require line of sight (LOS) and/or viewshed analyses. While tools for performing these analyses from digital elevation models (DEMs) are widespread, they are either too restrictive, inaccessible or pricey and difficult to use. This methodological gap is potentially imperative for scholars using solutions like telemetry tracking systems or spatial ecology landscape mapping. Here we present ViewShedR - a free, open-source and intuitive graphical user-interface application for performing LOS calculations, including cumulative, subtractive (areas covered by towers A + B or by A but not by B, respectively), and elevated-target analyses. ViewShedR is implemented in the widely used R environment, thus facilitating usage and further modification by end-users. We provide two working examples for ViewShedR in the context of permanent animal-tracking systems requiring simultaneous tag-detection by multiple towers (receivers): first, the ATLAS system for terrestrial animals in the Harod Valley, Israel; and second, an acoustic telemetry array for marine animals in the Dry Tortugas, Florida. ViewShedR allowed effective tower deployment and finding partially detected tagged animals in the ATLAS system. Similarly, it allowed us to identify reception shadows cast by islands in the marine array. We hope ViewShedR will facilitate deployment of tower arrays for tracking, communication networks and other ecological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number221333
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2023


FundersFunder number
Data Science Center
Koret-UC Berkeley-Tel Aviv University
Israel Science FoundationISF-96/20, ISF-1919/19
Tel Aviv University


    • acoustic tracking
    • animal telemetry
    • animal tracking
    • geospatial analysis
    • intersective coverage
    • visibility analysis


    Dive into the research topics of 'ViewShedR: a new open-source tool for cumulative, subtractive and elevated line-of-sight analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this