Friday, January 29, 2010

USGS and Partners to Help Scientists Deal with Data Deluge

A new global data access program will help scientists deal with the ever-increasing amount of information they must access to understand Earth’s living and nonliving systems.

The program, called DataONE, is a global data access and preservation network created by experts at the ’s National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), in partnership with many universities. DataONE is the result of a recent 5-year, $20 million award through the National Science Foundation. ONE is short for Observation Network for Earth.

DataONE is committed to ensuring the preservation and access to Earth-observation data across scientific disciplines to make new discoveries that improve life, said Mike Frame, a bioinformatics expert leading the USGS efforts along with Vivian Hutchison, also of the NBII.

Frame noted that the NBII offers DataONE partners expertise in biological informatics: the convergence of the biological sciences, information science and computer technologies.

“We’ve been developing standards and tools for using and integrating data for more than a decade,” said Frame. “With DataONE, our involvement will go beyond the focus on biological resources to include the necessary infrastructure and integration of data needed to confront broader environmental challenges.”

Much work will center on learning how scientists from many areas of study gather and label their data, then identify and develop tools, including software, that allow scientists to more easily access, interpret and use each other’s research.

Those benefiting from DataONE will include scientists, land-managers, policy makers, students, educators and the public. Most importantly, said Frame, DataONE is not an end in itself but a means to serve a broader range of science domains both directly and through interoperability with the DataONE distributed network.

The NBII Program is contributing thousands of metadata and datasets to DataONE through the NBII Metadata Clearinghouse. Through the clearinghouse, users can search detailed descriptions (metadata) of hundreds of different biological datasets and information products. These records describing biological datasets will be combined with metadata contributions from other partners in the DataONE system to provide a foundation for users to identify, access, and analyze data collected across multiple disciplines.

“Even though these datasets were collected to answer specific scientific questions at the time of data development,” said Hutchison, “there may be broader uses for the data, such as for complex analysis needed in climate change research.”

The USGS is the only federal agency participating in this grant. DataONE is led by the University of New Mexico and includes partner organizations across the United States, Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and Australia. It also includes experts from library, computer and environmental sciences to bridge these fields and to develop an infrastructure to serve science and the public at large for decades to come.

About the NBII

A major collaborator in the DataONE project, the NBII is a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources. Coordinated by the USGS, the NBII links diverse, high‑quality biological databases, information products, and analytical tools maintained by NBII partners and other contributors in government agencies, academic institutions, non‑government organizations and private industry. NBII partners and collaborators also work on new standards, tools and technologies that make it easier to find, integrate and apply biological resources information. Resource managers, scientists, educators and the general public use the NBII to answer a wide range of questions related to the management, use and conservation of U.S. biological resources.

(Photo: DataONE sponsored a kick-off meeting to launch the program (October 2009) in Albuquerque, NM)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New One-Stop Source for Scientific Information about U.S. Oceans and Waters

A one-stop source for biogeographic information collected from U.S. waters and oceanic regions is now available from the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Program OBIS-USA website offers a unique combination of tools, resources, and biodiversity information to aide scientists, resource managers and decision makers in the research and analyses critical to sustaining the nation’s valued marine ecosystems.
OBIS-USA was established in 2006 in cooperation with the U.S. National Committee for the Census of Marine Life a committee composed of renowned marine community leaders. OBIS-USA – a partnership of state, federal and scientific organizations -- is the United States’ contribution to the International Ocean Biogeographic Information System, an effort led by the Census of Marine Life to provide “open access” to global biodiversity data on the myriad of marine life that inhabits the ocean.
“The world’s ocean is critically important, not only because of how it influences the climate, but also because it provides the resources for commercial, recreational, cultural, scientific, conservation, and national security activities,” said John Mosesso, OBIS-USA co-lead. “At the same time, the ocean is threatened by a variety of changes, including warming temperatures, increasing ocean acidity, invasion by non-native species, overharvesting, and loss of habitat for species of concern.”
OBIS-USA provides data and functional tools to address key questions and information needs related to scientific understanding of sustainable and resilient ecosystems, marine spatial planning, climate change, ocean acidification, invasive species, and managing the nation’s fisheries. To address these ocean threats requires access to critical information on marine biodiversity, Mosesso noted.
OBIS-USA data holdings comprise millions of individual records supplied by marine data sponsors from across the nation. The site provides a work space for visitors to search and manipulate that data. This is accomplished in collaboration with data providers to produce a compilation of data in a common format. Data are interoperable and can be consistently viewed and applied by researchers, decision makers and resource managers.
Users can search and download data and metadata describing when and where species were observed or collected. The site’s offerings are available through an atlas (where users can review and select specific data sets). Individual or composite data sets (user-created selections from the entire holdings) may be viewed through several functions, including:

  • data dashboard - provides a pictorial view of data attributes that lets users assess their utility;
  • data richness - assesses how well the data are populated for selected elements;
  • data quality - provides key data collection information;
  • duplication status - indicates if a data set may contain duplicate records;
  • general metadata – displays the Federal Geographic Data Committee data record;
  • geographic coverage – displays data collection sites spatially;
  • participants - names OBIS-USA participants, with the option to connect back to the atlas, dashboard, and metadata functions; and
  • taxonomic depth - table shows the levels of taxonomic hierarchy for each organism.
OBIS-USA goals this year include an increase to over 10 million total data records and expanded functionality to address needs such as integration with non-biological data and further capability regarding species distributions.
To learn more about OBIS-USA, including growing its list of data and exploring partnerships, contact the NBII’s Mark Fornwall or John Mosesso.
Coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey, the NBII is a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources.

(Photos: 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. (Full size image)
Nardoa rosea sea star as seen from the underside. Photographed during Census of Coral Reef Ecosystems (CReefs) research, Heron Island, Australia. Gary Cranitch © 2008. (Full size image)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Volunteer to Participate in NBII Usability Testing

The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) is currently seeking volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets to take part in short usability sessions.
If you are interested in expanding accessibility to data and information needed for natural resource management, support the NBII in this mission by volunteering to participate in one of our usability testing, focus groups, or other types of product evaluations. On February 16-17 the NBII will be testing two web-based applications, which visualize and bring to your fingertips unique data collections about national landcover and conservation status. The testing will be conducted in an office located in Washington DC. The estimated time of the test is one hour. If you are not a DC area resident, let us know and we will talk to you about a possibility for remote testing. Please send an e-mail to Nina Chkhenkeli to ask questions or sign up for this testing or to indicate your interest in participating in upcoming product evaluations.

Virtual Globe Interactive Maps Available on the Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) Web site

A new addition to the Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) Web site allows users to search for and download interactive three-dimensional maps (KML and KMZ files) for use with virtual globe applications such as Google Earth, NASA World Wind, and ESRI ArcGIS Explorer. Over 300 map layers have been added to the NBII resource catalogue to support this area. Although many of the layers are readily available on the Internet, the metadata added during the cataloguing will make it easier for users to identify useful layers. See more on the SAIN Virtual Globe Interactive Maps web site.

(Photo: The earth, NASA)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) Invasive Species Update

New invasive species content is now available at the Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) website. New content includes information about invasive plants, invasive animals, and invasive microorganisms and pathogens. Of note is information within the invasive microorganisms and pathogens community about the 2009 pandemic influenza virus. This content explains the relationships between wildlife, agricultural ecosystems, and emerging infectious disease. SAIN collaborated with the NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node (WDIN) and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to provide this content.

Photo: The Golden Apple Snail Database provides access to approximately three decades of literature on ecology, damage, and management options for Golden Apple Snail (Pomacea spp.). It includes over 400 GAS-related articles, and over 100 images. Photo credit: Rita T. dela Cruz.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vegetation Characterization Products Now Available for Timpanogos Cave National Monument

USGS-National Park Service (NPS) Vegetation Characterization Program (VCP) documentation for Timpanogos Cave National Monument has been completed and is available on the VCP Web site. Products include aerial photography - graphic of orthophoto mosaic, and spatial orthophoto data; project report - photo interpretation key, vegetation descriptions, vegetation key, photos of map class, and accuracy assessment methods and results; field data - graphic of field plots, field database, physical descriptive for plots and species list for plots; geospatial vegetation information - graphics of vegetation communities, geodatabase and field photos; metadata, and a link to National Park Service (NPS) information about Timpanogos Cave 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 sixty-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.

WDIN Interviews with the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Geospatial Line of Business

The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Wildlife Disease Information Node (WDIN) staff were interviewed on September 25, 2009 by the Geospatial Line of Business (LOB), a cross-agency coordination of federal geospatial activities, about the Global Wildlife Disease News Map application. The Geospatial LOB strives to identify opportunities for highlighting efficiencies in government services. The News Map was selected because of its unique spatial approach to visualizing unstructured media information about emerging wildlife disease around the world.