Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network and Nature Conservancy Debut New Online Ecosystem Assessment Tool

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) recently launched the Ecosystem Analysis and Reporting (EAR) tool to visualize ecosystem status and threats in the Americas. The tool is available in both browser-based and ARC desktop-based formats (with English and Spanish user manuals).    The design and development of the tool was executed by TNC’s Caribbean Science Program, working closely with the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

This tool builds on the information made available through IABIN’s Ecosystems and Protected Areas Thematic Networks by providing conservation decision makers with products for assessing the extent of ecosystems under effective conservation, and offering direction on where to work and what actions may be needed to improve biodiversity conservation.

The tool currently includes data from two pilot regions: the Mesoamerican Reef (in Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula) and the Northern Andes of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. TNC led a presentation and workshop utilizing the tool at the Society for Conservation GIS meeting in Monterey, CA, in July and will also present the tool at upcoming IABIN meetings.

This tool is the first in a series of five planned “value-added products for decision makers” that IABIN is developing with funds from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Future tools will integrate additional types of data IABIN has digitized and made available through its GEF project and related activities. The tools will make this data available in more user-friendly and interactive formats, and will also allow select conservation-focused analyses to be performed utilizing this data. For further information, please contact Ben Wheeler at .

Photo: Tripod Fire, Washington State. Photograph by Philip Higuera, National Parks Ecological Research.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

IPANE Releases New Species Map Tool

This month, the NBII's Northeast Information Node (NIN)'s lead partner, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), is spotlighting the IPANE Species Map Tool on their homepage. The map tool allows users to explore the locations of selected invasive species common in New England, and includes a layer of USGS quad maps to track status of citizen science volunteers work in various locations.  Data used for species locations includes field data collected by IPANE volunteers and volunteers from state and local programs outside of IPANE, as well as Herbarium specimens. The map tool can be accessed from the home page of the IPANE website or from the IPANE species page. CIESIN has also completed revisions of data input screens for a new IPANE data input application.  IPANE is a featured partner of the Northeast Information Node of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII-NIN). For more information contact Dr. Les Mehrhoff.

NBII Partner Gives Opening Keynote at 2010 Stiltgrass Summit

Les Mehrhoff, Director of the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE), a partner organization of NBII’s Northeast Information Node (NIN) and Invasive Species Information Node (ISIN), gave the opening Keynote address at the 2010 Stiltgrass Summit, which took place at Southern Illinois University on August 11-12.  The summit was organized and hosted by Chris Evans, Director of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA).  The meeting kicked off with a field trip to see some stands of Microstegium vimineum and some control work being done by River to River CWMA and some of their partners.  The second day was devoted to research papers on Japanese Stiltgrass biology, ecology, and management.  Around 100 professionals from municipal, county, state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, and academia attended.   Les’ presentation, entitled “Microstegium vimineum: What George Ainslie’s Discovery Means to Us,” is available online at:  For more information on Microstegium vimineum, visit IPANE, a partner of the northeast and invasive information nodes, at

For additional information please contact: Dr. Les Mehrhoff, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut at or (860) 486-5708.

(Photo: Leaves of Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) growing on the edge of an eastern hardwood forest. Credit: © 2008 Elizabeth A. Sellers, Courtesy of

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vegetation Characterization Products Now Available for Shenandoah National Park

USGS-National Park Service (NPS) Vegetation Characterization Program (VCP) documentation for Shenandoah National Park has been completed and is available on the VCP Web site. Products include project report - vegetation descriptions, vegetation key, and accuracy assessment; field data - graphic of field plots, spatial field plots and AA data, plots field database, physical descriptive for plots, and species list for plots; geospatial vegetation information - graphics of vegetation communities, spatial vegetation datas, spatial boundary data and plots and AA photos; accuracy assessment information - graphic of accuracy assessment points, and contingency matrixs; metadata, and a link to NPS information about Shenandoah National Park. 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-one 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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ocean Biogeographic Information System-USA (OBIS-USA)

Following successful completion this year of the Census of Marine Life (COML) – an international effort to catalog the diversity, abundance, and distribution of life in the Earth’s oceans – the NBII has emerged as a critical leader for marine biodiversity data. OBIS-USA, which the NBII coordinates, represents an important accomplishment of the U.S. effort in COML. In collaboration with other agencies and partners, the NBII has succeeded in securing bridge funding (within the United States and other countries) to continue COML and OBIS efforts through the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. OBIS-USA has focused on data mobilization, partnership development, and improving functionality in this second year of implementation. Recent highlights include:
  • In a letter to USGS Director Marcia McNutt, the Marine Mammal Commission commended USGS for OBIS-USA as a location for the nation’s marine mammal data.
  • In an ongoing partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA has provided a list of 292 databases for OBIS-USA and funded NBII participation in a project to expand the current OBIS data schema to support the Integrated Ocean Observing Information System.
  • Data from USGS science centers are being added and the NBII is coordinating with the coastal marine geology program to integrate environmental data with biodiversity data, and allow improved spatial planning in marine areas.
  • Over four million records are available for searching, viewing, and downloading data from Large Marine Ecosystems. (See the test site.) The data schema is being expanded to include richer datasets than Darwin Core currently offers.
Access the OBIS-USA portal.