Friday, May 28, 2010

USGS Scientists Tackle Weeds Across Borders 2010

US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists Annie Simpson, Elizabeth Sellers, Marcia McNiff, and Dr. Randy Westbrooks, and USGS Scientist Emeritus Dr. William Gregg worked with the Center for Invasive Plant Management, in planning the Weeds Across Borders (WAB) tri-national conference on plant invasions: policies, politics, and practices. The conference will be held June 1-4, 2010, at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in Shepherdstown, WV. Sponsored by the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW) and with participation from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England, the biennial conference covers the interests of professionals and organizations involved in weed management and regulation. The goal of the conference is to provide a forum for educating, sharing, and disseminating knowledge about weed management, regulatory issues, and concerns about weed dispersal across and between all jurisdictional boundaries in Mexico, Canada, and the United States.

(Photo: Dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis) flowers. © 2008 Elizabeth A. Sellers.  Photo courtesy of the NBII LIFE Image Gallery.)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

USGS Gap Analysis Program (GAP) Releases Updated Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US)

PAD-US version 1.1 is a national geodatabase, hosted by USGS-GAP, that represents public land ownership and conservation lands, including voluntarily-provided privately protected areas. The lands included in PAD-US are assigned conservation status codes that both denote the level of biodiversity preservation and indicate other natural, recreational and cultural uses. This version of PAD-US contains updates to the Northeast, Northwest, California, and voluntarily-provided private preserves and conservation easements across the United States. In conjunction with the updated database, a new version of the Protected Areas online viewer has been released and can be accessed at This new data source is built upon more than two decades of effort by the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) and Gap Analysis Program (GAP) to facilitate access to and use of biological and stewardship information.

Monday, May 24, 2010

NBII to Help Fund Vertnet Project

The February 2010 edition of PLoS Biology featured an article on "Vertnet: A New Model for Biodiversity Data Sharing."  The VertNet project is being developed as a result of the work by many in the scientific community to increase our understanding of the Earth’s biodiversity and the ongoing threats to its survival. Meeting this challenge has emerged as a global priority. The community of vertebrate natural history collections has begun to play its role in solving this challenge by establishing social and technological infrastructures that provide open access to species occurrence data. The PLoS article mentions that the NBII is helping to fund this work through establishing a programmer position to offer network support to meet the growing demands on the systems under development.

This is a revised version of the article published in the Spring 2010 (Vol. 13, No. 2) issue of the NBII Access Newsletter.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NBII and USGS Represented at Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus Launch

Ms. Elizabeth Sellers, Manager, NBII, Pollinators Project, and Steve Hilburger, Program Analyst, USGS Wildlife Program, represented NBII biological informatics and USGS research science on pollinators at a Pollinator Briefing held on April 12 in Washington, DC, at the Longworth House Office Building in conjunction with the launch of a new Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Alcee L. Hastings and Timothy V. Johnson. Ms. Sellers and Mr. Hilburger are also active members of the Steering Committee of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), one of the supporters of this event.

(Photo: Brown belted bumblebee (Bombus griseocollis) on thistle. Franklin Park, Purcellville, Virginia. Photo Credit: © Elizabeth Sellers. All Rights Reserved 2010).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jamaica Bay BioBlitz 2010!

Rebecca Boger and John Marra of Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY), along with the National Park Service (NPS) and Jamaica Bay Institute (JBI), are conducting a Bioblitz of Gateway National Recreation Area’s Jamaica Bay Unit from 3 p.m. Friday, June 11, through 3 p.m. Saturday, June 12, 2010. This Bioblitz is part contest (racing against the 24-hour clock), part educational event, and part scientific endeavor. Experts, amateur naturalists, and volunteers will work 4-hour shifts to observe as many plants and animals as possible in order to create a biodiversity snapshot of one of the most urban national parks in the country. Having supported previous Bioblitz’ in 2007 and 2009, the Jamaica Bay Research and Management Information Network (JBRMIN), hosted by the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)'s Northeast Information Node (NIN) at the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), is the official Web site of the 2010 BioBlitz and is handling online registration as well as dissemination of forms, information packets, schedules, data sheets, programs, and press releases to participants and the public. If you wish to participate in this intense scientific survey or related public programs, just visit the 2010 BioBlitz page at You can also follow the Bioblitz on Twitter at

Monday, May 10, 2010

NBII Named "Portal of the Month" By NOAA

The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) was named "portal of the month" in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monthly e-newsletter, Information Exchange for Marine Educators. The newsletter is distributed to formal and informal science educators.

The newsletter mentions the NBII's focus on wildlife biology and issues surrounding wildlife such as ecosystems, land cover, habitats, and how each topic major category (Plants, Animals & Other Organisms, Habitats, Ecological Topics, Geographic Perspectives, and Toolkit) opens to a myriad of useful resources.  Ecological Topics alone includes bird conservation, fire ecology and management, invasive species, threatened and endangered species, and more.  NOAA also highlights OBIS-USA under the topic Habitats-Marine. OBIS-USA is a one-stop source for biogeographic data collected from U.S. waters and oceanic regions.  It gives the world's most comprehensive data base on marine biogeographic data a permanent home and places OBIS-USA in an optimal position to integrate marine biogeographic data with other oceanographic data for use by ocean scientists and resource managers. OBIS-USA is the U.S. regional node of the International Ocean Biogeographic Information System (iOBIS). OBIS-USA was organized by USGS under the NBII as a part of the NBII mission to provide the nation with a mechanism for accessing the vast amount of existing biological resources data, information products, and analytical tools that support and enhance science-based decision-making.

Along with biological information on wildlife and other issues, the NBII provides access to a host of images, which are available for most noncommercial uses. NBII Library of Images From the Environment (NBII LIFE) offers different categories, special collections, and even a kids section with games, stories, coloring pages, projects, and more. NBII LIFE is a collaborative platform for agencies, organizations, and individual partners to share high quality, authoritative images of our 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.

Thank you, NOAA, for recognizing the NBII as "Portal of the Month."

(Photo: Sea angel (Clione limacina), the most common shell-less pteropod of arctic waters. Courtesy of the census of Marine Life Arctic Ocean Diversity project, © Kevin Raskoff.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NBII Supports Development of the United States Virtual Herbarium (USVH)

Ms. Elizabeth Sellers, Manager, NBII Botany Project, is providing national NBII coordination and representation as a member of the Steering Committee of the United States Virtual Herbarium (USVH) project. The USVH is the primary project of an alliance of U.S. herbaria, regional herbarium networks, universities, and other organizations and individuals from across the country and its territories to digitize all botanical specimens in U.S. herbaria. Ms. Sellers and several NBII Program representatives (J. Carlino, J. Freeney, M. Lane, G. Palanisamy, L. Russell, and I. SanGil), participated in a recent NSF-sponsored workshop where 64 scientists and herbarium curators worked to define the USVH concept, organizational and technological infrastructure, and identify issues and tasks associated with its continued development. In our capacity as the U.S. Node to Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and a nationally recognized authority on bioinformatics, the NBII will provide expertise on data hosting and publishing, and help guide the USVH project through participation at regional, national, and international levels.

(Photo: Alpine primrose (Primula angustifolia) in bloom. Contributed by the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian. Photo by © 2008 Ted Niehaus. )