Friday, December 18, 2009

NASA Grant Team Developing Project Plan for Work on the Appalachian Trail

Glenn Holcomb of the USGS Northeast Area and Marcia McNiff of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) are participating as members of a team collaborating on the development of a Project Plan for work along the Appalachian Trail. The multi-agency team, led by principal investigator Dr. YQ Wang of the University of Rhode Island, also includes members from the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, NASA, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and the University of Rhode Island. The project, “A Decision Support System for Monitoring, Reporting and Forecasting the Ecological Conditions of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail,” was selected for funding by NASA’s 2008 Decision Support through Earth Science Research Results Program. On completion, data and models developed over the 4-year life of the project will be hosted on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) MEGA-Transect Web site.

(Image: Appalachian National Scenic Trail Map [Copyright: U.S. NPS])

Central Southwest/Gulf Coast Information Node Working With State Agencies to Develop Coastal Fisheries Mapping Application

Gulf of Mexico coastal fisheries populations have tremendous value in ecological, economic, and social terms. As a result, a number of state agencies within the Central Southwest/Gulf Coast Information Node (CSWGCIN) region are involved in coastal fisheries management. Each agency collecting fisheries independent (non-harvest) data in the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Zone does so according to agency-specific mission and goals; this leads to differing sampling methodologies and database formats. While each database tells a part of the story about the state of Gulf of Mexico coastal fisheries resources, combining them into a cohesive and complete data record is a difficult task. CSWGCIN is currently working with several of the state agencies to acquire coastal fisheries monitoring data. The data will be displayed in an online mapping application so users will be able to view physical characterization data by estuary. The application will provide hydrologic information, with data available for download.

New Focal Species Pages Launched

Web pages for the following focal bird species are now available online via the NBII Bird Conservation Node and Focal Species Web site: American Black Duck, Bicknell’s Thrush, Dunlin (arcticola ssp.), Greater Scaup, Hudsonian Godwit, Iiwi, Lesser Scaup, Mottled Duck, Sprague’s Pipit, and Upland Sandpiper. Content development for these new species homepages was a collaborative effort bringing together input from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and other federal and state agency personnel with expertise on these species. Additional information resources of relevance to each species will be incorporated into these focal species Web pages in the coming months. The Focal Species Strategy is an activity of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program aimed at returning these species populations to healthy and sustainable levels. If you know of quality online information resources for these species that should be listed in the new focal species pages, please contact the Bird Conservation Node.

(Photo: Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani)- Photo by Tim Bowman, FWS Digital Media Library)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Web-enabling the Pacific Northwest Habitat Classification Systems Database

The Pacific Northwest Habitat Classification Systems database (PHaCS) is currently available as a desktop version based in Access format, which can be downloaded at no cost to interested entities across the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, the NBII's Pacific Northwest Information Node (PNWIN) will provide support to Web-enable this database to provide interactive online access. The Northwest Habitat Institute, the PNWIN partner leading this effort, has already compiled over 60 different habitat classification systems into a single database. Habitat classification systems differ greatly throughout the Pacific Northwest depending on agency, organization, or monitoring group, often complicating data-sharing and collaboration. Additionally, some classifications use similar terminology but further challenge collaboration and sharing of information because the definitions are different. The PHaCS database can help address these questions about habitat classification and the systems used in the Pacific Northwest region and will be available as a Web-based resource improving availability and efficiency for users. Eventually, California will be included in the system.

Transition of the Density Management and Riparian Buffer Study Database

In August 2009, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) met with the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Partners at Oregon State University, Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering (NACSE) to discuss further enhancements to the Density Management and Riparian Buffer Study (DMS) site that was originally developed with support from the NBII Program. The data, publications, and spatial information will be enhanced and the DMS site will fully come back online by the end of 2009. The BLM will continue using the recently developed Web entry form to enter their new publications. The DMS develops and tests options for young stand management to create and maintain late-successional forest characteristics in western Oregon. Originally launched in 2003 in collaboration with BLM as part of Pacific Northwest Information Node (PNWIN), the DMS database will transition to BLM for long-term maintenance and support.

NBII's Regional Partnerships in Support of Biodiversity Inventory in the Great Smoky Mountains

On December 10-12, 2009 the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) held its annual meeting in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This regular end of the year event brings together “scientists, volunteers, and general public to hear about year's field work results, and to celebrate our living natural resources in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park”.

Scientists and staff of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) have teamed with the not-for-profit group Discover Life in America (DLIA) to coordinate the inventory of an estimated 100,000 species living in the park. The NBII's Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) is working with the GSMNP and DLIA to help define and implement ways to disseminate the many types of data being collected, analyzed, and summarized. SAIN is providing web page hosting, development and design, as well as database assistance and coordination with other inventory & monitoring projects to ensure that users are able to interact effectively with the data and information provided.

ATBI started at the Big Thicket National Preserve, an area of rich biodiversity and the first preserve in the National Park System. The Natural Resources Department of the Big Thicket National Preserve has a wealth of biological data. Most of the data have geographic identifiers but are decentralized or are not in their correct geographic projection. Staff of the NBII Central Southwest Gulf Coast Information Node (CSWGCIN) worked with the Big Thicket to gather the various data sets describing the preserve and to organize the data into a logical structure, filling data gaps where applicable.

(Photo: Winter - Snowy Stream at the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Photo courtesy

Friday, December 11, 2009

GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit for Helpdesk Experts

The United States National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) program, in collaboration with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), has developed and is supporting an Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) to facilitate access, discovery, and use of collections and observational data. A new training CD on the GBIF IPT has recently been published. This CD, based on materials from the Helpdesk Experts Workshop on the GBIF IPT , is a compilation of presentations, promotional materials, technical documents, videos, and online resources. The Helpdesk Experts Workshop was designed to:
"provide a selected group of technically capable people with extensive knowledge on the GBIF IPT so they can get more involved in the development and deployment of the tool, acting as a distributed helpdesk network for the benefit of their communities and regions."
The CD may be obtained by visiting the GBIF Training CDs page and clicking the link. The CDs are available in .ISO format and it is suggested on the Web site to use the image burning feature of your CD burning software to convert them into actual CDs.

About the GBIF IPT (from the IPT Web site):

"The GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) is an open source, Java (TM) based web application that connects and serves three types of biodiversity data: taxon primary occurrence data, taxon checklists, and general resource metadata. The data registered in a GBIF IPT instance is connected to the GBIF distributed network and made available for public consultation and use. This tool is made freely available for both those who wish to use it to publish their data and those who wish to participate in its development, documentation, and helpdesk."

To learn more about GBIF and NBII collaborations, please visit the NBII GBIF network Web site.