Thursday, February 25, 2010

Development of an Integrated Wild Bird Surveillance Database Project Results Presented to Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center

Dr. Joshua Dein, NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node (WDIN) Project Leader, and Megan Hines, WDIN Technical Manager, will present the results of a project titled, "Development of an Integrated Wild Bird Surveillance Database" to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), Division of Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (GEIS) Operations, in Silver Spring, MD, on March 3. This project was supported by AFHSC-GEIS and funded through a grant from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine to the University of Wisconsin, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (a core partner of NBII WDIN).

Monday, February 22, 2010

The NBII mourns the loss of Sam Hamilton, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) mourns the loss of Sam Hamilton, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a visionary leader acknowledged across the conservation community. "The NBII has a long history of successful partnerships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and we are saddened to hear of the loss of their newly-appointed director," said Gladys Cotter, USGS Associate Chief Biologist for Information. "We know that Mr. Hamilton will be sorely missed by his friends and colleagues at Fish and Wildlife, across the federal government, and beyond." The NBII sends its thoughts and prayers out to the Hamilton family.

(Article and links from the US Fish & Wildlife Service website)
(Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam D Hamilton, from the Fish & Wildlife website)

Tom Hermann of the U.S Geological Survey's Biological Informatics Office Named 2009 Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Tom Hermann of the U.S Geological Survey’s Biological Informatics Office, was recently named a 2009 Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Hermann’s distinguished work at USGS has produced outstanding efforts to advance biological science and its communication. BIO’s mission is to create the informatics network, provide the scientific content, and develop public and private partnerships needed for the understanding and stewardship of the nation’s biological resources.

Tom Hermann

“We’re so pleased and proud that Tom has gained this honor,” said Gladys Cotter, USGS Associate Chief Biologist for Information and head of BIO. “It’s a tribute to his talents that also speaks well of the efforts of so many of the information, scientific and communications professionals he works with at USGS, other government agencies and numerous organizations worldwide.”

As Chief Knowledge Manager, Hermann oversees all formulation and communication of the USGS-National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Program, one of BIO’s core components. As such, Hermann ensures all manner of biological information is made available to U.S. citizens quickly, reliably and efficiently. These data and information are distributed through a variety of formats and channels, including webpages, digital images, geospatial referencing data and a wide range of scientific and outreach publications.

Hermann has worked closely with the Department of the Interior on many topics of interest, such as amphibians. He helped shape strategies to improve access to amphibian knowledge and scientific information (nearly every state has reported noteworthy cases of amphibian deformities). Action from the NBII Program, managed by Hermann, included the development of NBII FrogWeb, an interactive website that provides current research and information. The department, the National Wildlife Federation, and the public television series, Kratt’s Creatures, also participated. This was the first time a partnership with other government agencies and non-government organizations provided integrated access to amphibian data and information.

Hermann is also responsible for the continuing growth and sophistication of the NBII Library of Images From the Environment (NBII LIFE), a collaborative platform for agencies, organizations and individual partners to share high-quality, authoritative images of the natural world. Subjects cover species, species interactions, landscapes, research, management and environmental topics. The goal is to manage images as scientific records and ensure they are useful for future research and decision-making.

At the international level, Hermann’s leadership in the development of the NATO Scientific, Technology, and Research Network (STARNET) grew out of his chairmanship of the Information Management Committee of the NATO Research and Technology Agency. He developed STARNET to facilitate access to information elements already existing within NATO agencies and NATO member countries in science, technology and overall research. This is the first time in the history of the NATO alliance that member countries can access these data using a one-stop interface. Hermann continues to lead a team of experts in information science in content development of STARNET’s Environmental and Biological Sciences Information Node. This vital NATO capability impacts the bureau as well as the scientific community and, by its very nature, is also helping to contribute to our national security.

Hermann holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Maryland and an M.S. in Information Resource Management from Syracuse University. His awards at USGS have included the Meritorious Service Award, which may be granted for an important contribution to science or management, a notable career, and superior service in administration or in the execution of duties.

**Note: this article was published by the US Geological Survey, released on February 18, 2010. Visit the USGS Newsroom for more information. You can also subscribe to USGS News Releases via their electronic mailing list or RSS feed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Species Mashups Now Available for Mountain Prairie, Pacific Northwest, California, Pacific Basin, Central Southwest/Gulf Coast, and Southwest Nodes

In 2009, a team of NBII staff and partners developed a process for displaying the Species of Greatest Conservation Need identified in the State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) in a mashup format building on the Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) product. The mashups bring together data sources including the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and NBII Metadata Clearinghouse into a single integrated Web page. Mashups for species in states covered by the Mountain Prairie, Pacific Northwest, California, Pacific Basin, Central Southwest/Gulf Coast, and Southwest nodes are now available in the “Animals and Plants of the Region” sections. The mashups cover 28 states and 3 territories. Work continues to add the remaining regional nodes so a national mashup can be presented. Also, additional data sources are being considered for inclusion such as the NBII Library of Images from the Environment (LIFE).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NBII Designated Home for National Fish Habitat Action Plan Data System

The USGS-NBII was designated by the National Fish Habitat Board to house the data delivery system supporting the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The first phase of the data system will be completed by the end of 2010 to facilitate the transfer of data between and among the Fish Habitat Partnerships and the Board. This accomplishment will further the progress of development to enable visualization of these data and Web mapping capabilities, which will support the states, non-governmental organizations, industry, and federal agencies within and external to DOI that are working to improve the Nation’s fish habitat.

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan (PDF 2.2 MB) is an unprecedented attempt to address an unseen crisis for fish nationwide: loss and degradation of their watery homes.

(Photo: courtesy of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan website)

Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Offers Additional Butterfly Data

Working with butterfly specialists nationwide, the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (a vital USGS-NBII component) has recently made a large quantity of new information on North American butterflies available. More than 3,600 scientific names and 1,000 common names for more than 800 species and 1,600 subspecies are now included. The comprehensive list contains both scientific and common names with associated data for this important group that includes numerous pollinators and endangered species as well as some invasive species. For more information, visit the ITIS website.

(Photo: A monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) feeding on a thistle flower. Photo Credit: Elizabeth A. Sellers/

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Global Invasive Species Database Becomes GISIN Data Provider

The Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is mirrored by the NBII database, is now searchable through the Global Invasive Species Information Network (GISIN). GISIN is a distributed database system that provides a cross-search capability for invasive species status and occurrences, as well as a way to search for URLs of species resources. Data providers can now connect to the GISIN using Web services or via a flat file upload option. There are now more than a million records cached in the GISIN system. See the GISIN web site for more information.