Monday, January 31, 2011

Using Interactive Biodiversity Information System (IBIS) Data in Decision Making

The Northwest Habitat Institute used their Habitat Value System called Combined Habitat Assessment Protocols (CHAP) to resolve a 25-year old issue regarding the loss of wildlife-habitat caused by the construction and operation of Willamette River basin dams.  CHAP works in conjunction with the IBIS data sets, which are supported by the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure Program (NBII). The mitigation for these losses is called for in the Northwest Power Act of 1980. An initial Settlement Agreement for $103 million was reached by the Bonneville Power Administration with the State of Oregon. These impoundments inundated 17,791 acres and using CHAP findings the Settlement Agreement calls for 26,537 acres. The CHAP approach gives Bonneville Power Administration and the State of Oregon a scientific rationale that is being explained to the public to justify the acreage amounts.

(Photo: Logo from the Northwest Habitat Institute web site)

Pacific Biodiversity Infromation Forum (PBIF) Pacific Islands Roundtable

The Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas met in Apia, Samoa, this past summer. A key topic for the meeting was the monitoring and reporting of conservation efforts in the Pacific. PBIF currently chairs the monitoring working group. PBIF also supports the monitoring effort by providing online access to the reporting form(s) and maintaining the database for review and analysis. The Roundtable reviewed the results and supports the nascent reporting program.

(Photo: Lobelias in the understory of a native Hawaiian wet forest, Puu Kukui, Maui. Image: Elizabeth Speith (Public Domain))

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC)

The USGS-NBII Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) has joined the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC) Land Conservation Cooperative. The Node will serve as the data manger for PICCC projects and provide leadership for data management, development of the data model, and serving as the aggregation point for data and information related to climate change on Pacific Islands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has provided initial funding to allow USGS to participate. PBIN joins the USGS Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center in this effort.

(Photo: Maui, Hawaii Coast Line. Credit: John J. Mosesso /

NBII Central Southwest Gulf Coast Information Node Partners With Gulf of Mexico Alliance

Central Southwest Gulf Coast Information Node (CSWGCIN) continues to work with their partners in the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA). USGS National Wetlands Research Center librarians Linda Broussard and Cassie Thibodeaux participated in the GOMA Governors’ Action Plan II Implementation and Integration Workshop held in Biloxi, MS, on August 3–5, 2010. The workshop brought Gulf Coast State resource mangers together to work on regionally identified issues of major environmental concern. Teams focused on issues related to coastal community resilience, ecosystems integration and assessment, habitat conservation and restoration, managing nutrient inputs, water quality, and environmental education. CSWGCIN has worked with the Environmental Education Team since the Alliance was formed in 2005. Along with a partner from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), they gave a presentation on finding Web resources. Broussard is a member of the GOMA Environmental Education Steering Committee. For more information, see

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

USGS-NBII Library of Images From the Environment (LIFE) Featured in

The USGS-NBII Library of Images From the Environment (LIFE)  is among the first three federal image galleries to be featured with's new image search capability. LIFE's substantial scientific documentation and quality images led to select it along with image galleries from NASA and NOAA. The results have just debuted online at

Thumbnails of LIFE's 28,000 scientific images are available through, with direct links back to the LIFE Web site for detailed information and original image sizes.  The debut of's image search is being featured in online news and blog sites such as Information Today, Knowledge Speak, the Intellogist Blog, the Special Libraries Association,, the NASA wiki, and others.  LIFE will soon upload an additional 30,000 images contributed by the USGS and partner agencies to its Web site; those images will also be available to's search tool.

(Photos: Top left: screen shot of the web site; bottom right: Alabama State butterfly: Tiger Swallowtail.  Photograph: Elizabeth A. Sellers /NBII.Gov.) 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Vegetation Characterization Products Now Available for Fort Donelson National Battlefield and Stones River National Battlefield

USGS-National Park Service (NPS) Vegetation Characterization Program (VCP) documentation for Fort Donelson National Battlefield and Stones River National Battlefield has been completed and is available on the VCP Web site. Products include aerial photography - graphic of orthophoto mosaic, and flight line index; project report - vegetation description and key, Cumberland-Piedmont network report - photointerpretation, GIS operations; accuracy assessment report - accuracy assessment methods and results; field data - graphic of field plots, field plots database, physical descriptive for plots, and species list for plots; geospatial vegetation information - graphics of vegetation communities, geodatabase, and plot and AA photos; accuracy assessment information - graphic of accuracy assessment points, and contingency matrix; metadata, and a link to NPS information about Fort Donelson National Battlefield and Stones River National Battlefield. The goal of the VCP is to classify and map the vegetation communities of National Parks that have a natural resource component. Complete documentation is currently available for one hundred two park units and two U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge units. The VCP is managed by the USGS Center for Biological Informatics in cooperation with the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program. The USGS Vegetation Characterization effort includes the management and upkeep of the VCP protocols, Web-based access to the standards, and the Web-based access to NPS Vegetation Characterization program finished products.

(Photo: Fort Donelson National Battlefield, courtesy of the USGS Vegetation Characterization Program website.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Metadata Training To Be Offered in Alaska

On January 21, 2011, the USGS Core Science Systems Biological Informatics Program will offer two Introduction to Metadata workshops in Anchorage, AK, in conjunction with the Alaska Marine Science Symposium. This training is critical for scientists to be able to properly document datasets using approved federal standards so that data can be discovered and reused by other scientists. Metadata records can be accessed through the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Metadata Clearinghouse.  (For more information, send an email to Viv Hutchison, USGS, Denver, CO)

(Photo: Black-footed ferret. Photo credit: Paul Marinari.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hawaii Early Detection Network Update: Kauai Invasive Species Early Detection Field Guide

Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN), the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee have created A Field Guide to the Early Detection of Invasive Plants and Animals on Kaua’i, Hawai’i. Nine hundred copies of the full-color field guide will be distributed to schools, libraries, and participants in upcoming Hawaii Early Detection Network workshops on Kauai.  The field guides highlight 23 plants and animals that are emerging threats specific to the island of Kaua’i. The target audiences for the field guides are island residents, land managers, conservation workers, policymakers, and anyone who desires to “malama the aina” (Hawaiian for “care for that which sustains”).   Preview, share, or download the field guide.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

NBII Program Remembers Les Mehrhoff

Dr. Leslie J. Mehrhoff, Director and the energy and life force behind the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE), passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on December 22nd, 2010.  Dr. Mehrhoff was the co-founder of IPANE and former curator of the George Safford Torrey Herbarium at the University of Connecticut.  He was also the former chief botanist for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.  

Les described himself as an avid, old-fashioned herbarium (read 'plant collecting') field naturalist who would "rather be doing field work than almost anything else."  He had an interest in plant dispersal for many years, and it was while working on rare plants that he increasingly noticed non-native species invading rare species habitats. He started making lists of these non-native species in the early 1990s.  Today IPANE is the flagship volunteer regional invasive plant network for early detection, rapid assessment, and rapid response (EDRR). Other regional programs such as the Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth (IPAMS) and iMAPinvasives are using IPANE as a model for their own development.  IPANE also recently began working with EDDMaps to create a stronger early detection support program for New England.  

Les was a dynamic speaker and had been featured on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and interviewed about his work at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum and the University of Connecticut.  Les was passionate and charismatic about the flora of New England, and he devoted his life to protecting and preserving nature. The USGS Biological Informatics Program, home of the NBII National Program Office and other USGS biological data management activities, has benefited greatly from its long-term partnership with Dr. Mehrhoff and IPANE.  His passion for his work always served to energize and re-invigorate us no matter what the circumstances.  His thirst for knowledge was contagious; we learned something new every time we worked together AND he made it fun and memorable.  We are indeed very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from a person who was "larger than life" in both his boundless enthusiasm and his encyclopedic knowledge.  We will sorely miss his hearty laugh and wonderful sense of humor, his love of life, and his spirit of fun and adventure.  We will echo Les’s enthusiasm, expertise, and excellence in our continued support for the IPANE, the Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth (IPAMS) and for other EDRR-related activities.  Les will be remembered for all of his hard work and dedication, and his contributions to IPANE and to the world of botanical collections and invasive exotic plant management.  He will be truly missed as a dear friend and greatly respected colleague. 
Les’s family has requested those wishing to honor him, "In memory of Les, please perform an act of kindness for the preservation of our environment."  

If you would like to view and sign a guest book and read Les's obituary, visit the Potter Funeral Home Web site and search for Mehrhoff.

To mail a sympathy card, please contact Annie Simpson or Elizabeth Sellers directly for the mailing address of the Mehrhoff family.

To learn more about Les’s work, here are two additional tributes from other colleagues:
Walking the Berkshires - Les Mehrhoff: In Memoriam
Uncommon Ground - Remembering Les Mehrhoff 

(Photo: Top left: Volunteers at advanced training with Les Mehrhoff (far left), courtesy of the IPANE Web site; lower right: Les, on left, having fun before vine. © Les Mehrhoff, 2007)

Pacific Basin Information Node and Social Media Resources

Social media resources and Web 2.0 technology have fast become a key component of data dissemination on the Web. The NBII Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) has created a new Social Media Resources Web site community to aggregate various social media resources for the Pacific Basin. This site, modeled on the USGS Social Media site, provides links and descriptions to relelvant RSS Feeds, YouTube Channels, Twitter Accounts, FaceBook pages, and Blogs that pertain to Pacific Basin conservation.