Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NBII Participates in 2010 Jamaica Bay BioBlitz

The 2010 Jamaica Bay BioBlitz, which was held on June 11th and 12th at the Floyd Bennett Field and adjacent areas including Plumb Beach and Dead Horse Bay, attracted hundreds of scientists and amateur naturalists. NBII’s Ricardo McClees-Funinan took part in the 24-hour marathon to catalog the biodiversity of the area and shared some of his photos with us.  Visit the NBII Facebook Fan page for images from the Jamaica Bay 2010 BioBlitz.

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.  You can also follow the National Park Service (NPS) on Twitter at

(Photo: milkweed (Asclepias sp.) along trail leading towards Dead Horse bay.  Photo by Ricardo McClees-Funinan)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers (OFWIM) Annual Conference and Business Meeting

October 17-21 OFWIM Annual Conference and Business Meeting: Partnerships and Collaboration in Public Land Management -  The Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers (OFWIM), founded in 1993, is a non-profit association dedicated to the management and conservation of natural resources through technology and information exchange. OFWIM holds an annual conference and business meeting to bring together practitioners in the community to share activities and network with colleagues. The NBII has been actively involved in OFWIM to promote its data and technology sharing activities that support many of OFWIM’s member organizations. The 2010 OFWIM conference will take place on October 17-21 in Lake Barkley State Park at the Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky. The theme of the conference this year is “Partnerships and Collaboration in Public Land Management”. Submit your abstract for a presentation or poster by July 30th that highlights examples of successful partnerships dealing with any aspect of natural resource and public land management. Some of the areas that might be of interest as conference subtopics include:

• State Wildlife Action Plans Updates
• Climate Change
• Mobile Technology – GPS, GIS, Smart Phones, etc.
• Emerging Technology
• Interagency Cooperation
• Using Technology to Overcome Cutbacks

Lake Barkley State Park Resort is located in western Kentucky, approximately 2 hours northwest of Nashville, TN, which has the nearest major airport. In addition to general sessions, panels, and a poster session, the conference will also offer a field trip led by federal, state, and local agency managers that includes a boat ride to Duck Island in Kentucky Lake and a tour of the Land Between the Lakes, where the trip participants will get a first hand view of cooperative management efforts in the region.

Visit to submit presentations and posters, apply for travel grants, and get more information about the conference. Click here to register.

Friday, June 25, 2010

National Pollinator Week Exhibit all the "Buzz"

During the Inter-departmental National Pollinator Week Exhibit hosted on June 21, 2010 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists Steve Hilburger (Program Analyst, USGS Wildlife Program), Sam Droege (Wildlife Biologist, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Coordinator of the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory), and Elizabeth Sellers (Manager, Pollinators Project of the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure) showcased examples of USGS pollinator research and biological informatics tools. The USGS-NBII exhibit included information about the Butterflies and Moths of North America database, the NBII Pollinators project, and the Integrated Taxonomic Information System’s 2009 World Bees Checklist; fact sheets about other relevant USGS research and technologies, and copies of the 2009 and 2010 pollinator posters whose printing was co-funded by the USGS.

Our scientists and those from other federal agencies such as USDA, EPA, FWS, BLM, and NASA and from nonprofit organizations such as the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation spoke to many people about pollinator research and conservation. Many of the visitors to the exhibits also attended a panel discussion on pollinators that was hosted earlier in the day by the USDA. Booth visitors included members of the public (tourists, DC residents, university students, homeowners, and children of all ages), who were visiting the National Mall and other attractions; staff members of other federal agencies; and educators from various institutions. Some visitors stayed at the booth for up to 20 minutes asking questions on a variety of topics, such as how to distinguish bees from flies and other insects; how to attract more or specific species of pollinators to their gardens; and what research is being done or what information is available on wild and managed pollinator species. National Pollinator Week continues through June 27th. To learn more about National Pollinator Week and what you can do to learn more about pollinators, visit the Pollinator Partnership’s Web site -

(Top photo: pictured from left to right: Laurie Adams (The Pollinator Partnership (P2); Steve Hilburger (USGS Wildlife Program); Elizabeth Sellers (NBII Pollinators Project); Sam Droege (USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab). Photo by © 2010 Thomas Van Arsdall, used with permission; Lower photo: examples of USGS pollinator research and biological informatics tools being displayed at the USGS booth. Photo: Elizabeth A. Sellers/NBII).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Butterflies and Moths of North America Presented at Lepidopterists’ Society

The Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) project is supported through a partnership among the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), the Big Sky Institute at Montana State University, and the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.  NBII Partner Kelly Lotts will present a poster and oral presentation about this project at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Lepidopterists' Society (LepSoc 2010), July 8-11, 2010 in Leavenworth, WA.  What began as two independent repositories of butterfly and moth county records compiled for lepidopterists, BAMONA has grown into a vast citizen science project with hundreds of volunteers.  As of May, the BAMONA Web site provided access to a database of more than 275,000 butterfly and moth occurrence records, over 3,000 photographs, and more than 4,500 species pages.  Quality-controlled data contributed by lepidopterists and citizen scientists from across the United States and Mexico are publicly available via checklists and maps. By fall, the BAMONA project will take another big leap when a new version of the Web site is launched to the public.  This improved BAMONA site will include Canadian data, maps displaying point data and recent submissions, and a new online, streamlined submission/review process.  In addition, a Web Mapping Service of the BAMONA data will be published so that interested scientists can utilize these data in mapping applications.  At LepSoc 2010, Ms. Lotts will strengthen existing collaborations with the Lepidopterists' Society, seek new partnerships with amateur and professional lepidopterists, and promote public participation and use of this international dataset.

Photo: Echo Azure (Celastrina echo).  Photo by © Kelly Lotts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Calling All Shutterbugs: Go On Safari for Pollinators

Did you know that roughly one-third of the food you eat requires insect pollination? However, bees and other pollinators face increasing risk from pesticide use, habitat loss, climate change and diseases. You can help scientists find out more about how bees are doing by taking digital photographs for “Bee Hunt.” This citizen science project is part of Discover Life, a key partner of the USGS-NBII Invasive Species Information Node. So go grab your pith helmet, watch a short video describing how to take photographs in the field, and join Discover Life for an exciting small-scale safari. Discover Life is also rallying citizen scientists to monitor plants, fungi, lichens, ladybugs, moths, butterflies, caterpillars and other critters. For more information, contact Nancy Lowe at

Photograph by © Sam Pickering, 2006-2008. Wheel bug nails non-native bee (Arilus cristatus).

USGS Pollinator Research and Bioinformatics Showcase on the National Mall

resin_bee2 by you.U.S. Geological Survey  (USGS) Scientists Steve Hilburger (Program Analyst, USGS Wildlife Program), Sam Droege (Wildlife Biologist, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Coordinator of the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory), and Elizabeth Sellers (Manager, Pollinators Project of the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure) will showcase examples of USGS pollinator research and biological informatics tools at the Inter-departmental National Pollinator Week Exhibit hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) beside the National Mall (adjacent to the USDA People's Garden) in Washington D.C. on June 21, 2010. This event builds on the cooperative energy initiated at an inter-departmental pollinator collaboration meeting hosted by USDA in March, and provides an opportunity for more pollinator-related information exchange and discussion among Federal agencies and with the public.  National Pollinator Week is from June 21-27, 2010.

(Photo: Giant resin bee (Megachile sculpturalis) on thistle. Franklin Park, Purcellville, VA.  © Elizabeth Sellers 2009).

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Detailed National Map of Land-Cover Vegetation Released Will Help Determine Places with Habitat to Support Wildlife

The most detailed national vegetation U.S. land-cover map to date was released today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The map will enable conservation professionals to identify places in the country with sufficient habitat to support wildlife.

The map, produced by the USGS Gap Analysis Program (GAP), can be viewed online and downloaded for free.

“These data are critical for determining the status of biodiversity, as baseline data for assessing climate change impacts, and for predicting the availability of habitat for wildlife,” said John Mosesso, Gap Analysis Program Manager. “Large datasets of this type are extremely important to land and wildlife managers because they allow for analysis and planning across extensive geographic areas.”

The GAP national land cover data, based on the NatureServe Ecological Systems Classification, is the most detailed, consistent map of vegetative associations ever available for the United States and will help facilitate the planning and management of biological diversity on a regional and national scale.

GAP’s mission is to keep common species common by providing information on the status of native species. The creation and dissemination of the national landcover dataset and online map viewer furthers that goal by putting crucial information into the hands of conservation professionals. Information about land cover is a key component of effective conservation planning and the management of biological diversity. 

Landcover Map Portrays Complex Data
The final version of the landcover map contains 551 Ecological Systems and modified Ecological Systems (the modified ecological systems represent 32 land use classes which depict developed and/or disturbed land cover classes). The map combines data from previous GAP projects in the Southwest, Southeast, and Northwest United States with recently updated California data. For areas of the continental United States where ecological system-level GAP data has not yet been developed, data from the LANDFIRE project compiled by Landscope was used. This allows for the construction of a seamless representation of ecological system distributions across the continental United States.

The map also meets natural resources agencies’ need for a way to characterize land cover. Finally, the new map furthers the mission of GAP to promote conservation by providing state, regional, and national assessments of the conservation status of land cover types to resource managers, planners, and policy makers who can use the map and its underlying data to make informed decisions.

Online Map Viewer Shows Data at Multiple Scales
The online map viewing interface has been designed to allow users to explore land cover data at three levels of complexity.  Level 1 contains eight classes: grassland, shrubland, forest, aquatic, sparse and barren, recently disturbed, riparian, and human land use. Level 2 contains 43 classes, and incorporates information on elevation and climate. Level 3 contains the full 583 classes. This online tool facilitates exploration of ecological system distribution patterns at multiple scales and allows users to calculate statistics on the types of vegetation occurring within a mapping zone, a state, or a county.

As part of the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) — a collaborative program coordinated by the USGS to provide increased access to data and information on the nation’s biological resources — GAP data and associated analytical tools have been used in hundreds of applications, from basic research to comprehensive state wildlife plans, and from education projects in schools to ecoregional assessments of biodiversity.

GAP has developed land cover data since the 1980s — initially on a state-by-state basis and more recently on a regional basis. The national land cover map provides seamless coverage across political boundaries, facilitating its use by governmental agencies, researchers, conservation organizations and others.

(Photo: Online Map Viewer for Land-Cover Classification Map. The GAP (GAP Analysis Program) online map viewer shows land cover classifications at three levels. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey Multimedia Gallery)
(This technical announcement was originally published by the U.S. Geological Survey)

Vegetation Characterization Products Now Available for Fossil Butte National Monument

USGS-National Park Service (NPS) Vegetation Characterization Program (VCP) documentation for Fossil Butte National Monument has been completed and is available on the VCP Web site. Products include aerial photography - graphic of orthophoto mosaic, spatial orthophoto data, and flightline index; project report - photointerpretation key, vegetation descriptions, vegetation key, photos of map class, and accuracy assessment; field data - graphic of field plots, plots field 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 Fossil Butte National Monument. 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 seventy-three 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: Fossil Butte National Monument - is located in Lincoln County in southwestern Wyoming. It can be accessed from U.S. Highway 30 approximately 21 km (13 miles) west of Kemmerer, and includes 3,351 ha (8,281 acres).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Webinar on NBII's Raptor Search Engine Now Online

NBII's Raptor is not your ordinary Web search engine! A brief webinar that gives background on this specialized search engine is now available through the Help link above the Raptor search box found on every NBII Web page , or by going directly to the Raptor Webinar page.  From the webinar, the viewer-listener can learn the reasons that the NBII implemented Raptor, and how the NBII chooses information and Web sites to add to sources searched by Raptor (users are invited to make suggestions for more additions).  The use of Raptor's unique features are also explained, including using the clustering function to enable exploration, discovery, and learning not possible with other search engines.  An e-mail address to use for sending suggestions and feedback is given at the end of the webinar.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

USGS-NBII Scientist to Participate in Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Executive Council Meeting

Mark Fornwall, NBII's OBIS-USA node manager, will participate in the U.S. delegation during negotiations related to the transfer of the international Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) from its current status as a part of the global Census of Marine Life to a more permanent home in the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The move, approved by IOC members at the Assembly last June, will ensure the continued existence of OBIS and foster integration with other oceanographic data systems within the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) program. The development of regional nodes and the adoption of international standards and protocols for the interoperability of marine biogeographic data within OBIS, is a great successes for the Census of Marine Life.  For the first time, marine biodiversity can be mapped and investigations can be conducted on the biogeography of the world’s oceans, changes in species distributions can be monitored, and causal factors affecting biodiversity can be investigated.

(Photo: Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawaii. Photo by Paul Wang. Photo courtesy of the USGS Newsroom).