Monday, June 29, 2009

NBII Delivers for

In a recent effort coordinated by the USGS Geospatial Information Office (GIO), the NBII was called upon to contribute geospatial datasets for inclusion on is a high priority initiative of the Obama administration, the purpose of which is to increase public access to high value datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. The USGS was asked to provide freely downloadable geospatial datasets to help fulfill a goal of 100,000 datasets in their system in the near term. The NBII contributed over 700 of approximately 2,000 datasets submitted to this initiative by USGS. Prompt response to the call for data was possible through the NBII Metadata Clearinghouse, a searchable system of records describing scientific research, and through the efforts of the USGS Biology Science Centers that contribute to the Clearinghouse by using it to document their work. For more information on the NBII Metadata Clearinghouse, visit <>.

(Photo: screenshot of the NBII Metadata Clearinghouse)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

USGS Microbiology Web Site Debut

USGS scientists across disciplines are using their microbiology expertise to study climate change, fish and wildlife disease, bioremediation, energy, and other national issues. The week of June 29, USGS will reveal the scope of USGS microbiology research with the release of the new Interdisciplinary Microbiology Web site. Research summaries and images, and contact information for scientists, are just some of the site’s assets that will facilitate collaboration between scientists and increase the understanding of USGS microbiology to the public. Goals of the site were developed at the USGS Interdisciplinary Microbiology Workshop and the content, look, and feel built with scientists' feedback. The site will soon be available at , and is made possible by the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) and USGS Microbiology Coordinator Kay Marano Briggs. For more information, contact Kay Marano Briggs, Reston, VA, 703-648-4046 or Bernadette LeMasters, Reston, VA, 703-648-4334)

Image: Paenibacillus thiaminolyticus
Catherine A. Richter,
USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description: Yellow color shows thiamine degradation on an agar plate of
Paenibacillus thiaminolyticus strain 8120.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's In a Name?

Despite what Juliet once cooed to her Romeo about roses and such, a name can make quite a difference. Can you imagine Catherine Jones without the “Zeta”? Or Eldrick Woods (his real name) without the “Tiger”? Hardly.

The NBII wants to bring the same kind of sizzle to the name for its new search engine. And who better to handle this formidable undertaking than you, our loyal customers?

As you may know, the first NBII search engine was called BioBot. Our most recent search engine was Google Custom Search. Now it’s time to turn the page and craft just the right name to christen our latest and, we think, greatest search engine.

Send your favorite idea(s) to the Access editor, Ron Sepic, at <> no later than July 1, 2009. Ron will collect the entries and forward them to Gladys Cotter, the USGS Associate Chief Biologist for Information – who also oversees NBII development – for the final selection.

Once we have a winner, we’ll have a kickoff party and officially launch the search engine under its newly minted name. The winner will receive an NBII search engine present. Plus, if the winner is in the Reston, VA, area, he/she will also get the first piece of a special cake prepared for the occasion and will be featured in a photo with Gladys to run in a future issue of Access. If the winner isn’t in the Reston area, we of course will still be pleased to announce him/her in Access.

So conjure up those creative juices. We look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Plight of the Bumble Bees

Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 22-28!
Sponsored by the US Geological Survey, Smithsonian Institution, National Biological Information Infrastructure, Pollinator Partnership, and Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

The USGS-NBII is co-sponsoring two events for pollinators: a public symposium, Plight of the Bumble Bees, on June 22 at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. The symposium will be followed by a two-day workshop in which world experts will discuss potential threats to bumble bees. For more information, visit

Host: Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
Monday, June 22, 2009
10:30am - 1:00pm
Baird Auditorium, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC

(Photo: A bumble bee (Bombus spp.) forages for pollen on the flower of a musk or nodding thistle in an abandoned agricultural field. Photographer: Elizabeth A. Sellers, NBII)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OFWIM 2009 Conference and Annual Meeting

The Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers (OFWIM), is an international non-profit association takes advantage of technology and information exchange to management and conservation of natural resources. OFWIM is holding its annual conference on September 14-17 in Seattle, Washington. For more information, go the the OFWIM website or visit the registration website.

OFWIM's mission is to:

"promote the management and conservation of natural resources by facilitating technology and information exchange among managers of fish and wildlife information."
(Photo: Great Egret (Ardea alba) Photographer: John J. Mosesso/NBII)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NBII Helps DoD Keep the Environment Healthy

The Department of Defense (DoD) commitment to protecting and preserving our national security is well-known. What may not be so wellknown is that DoD is also a committed steward of the environment – and the NBII is glad to help DoD maintain that commitment. The most recent example of the NBII-DoD partnership for the environment is a new Web site we host and support called the DoD Threatened and Endangered Species (TES) Document Repository. The site went live over a year ago, with major revisions completed by October 1, 2008. It’s aimed at anyone interested in looking at information DoD has related to its high-priority threatened and endangered species. Repository users include researchers, land managers, policymakers, and the general public. “There’s nothing else like it,” said Mike Frame, NBII Director of Research and Technology. “It’s the only Web site of its kind to offer data and information on threatened and endangered species of greatest interest to DoD. The effort truly demonstrates how a collaborative partnership between agencies can produce outstanding results.” So how did this unique resource come about? DoD utilizes nearly 30 million acres of land as well as substantial waters and air space to conduct missions vital to national security. These areas provide habitat for a great diversity of plants and animals, some of which are found only in areas within DoD stewardship. Consequently, DoD personnel are responsible for managing an incredibly broad range of TES and species at risk. Of these, the repository focuses on 18 key TES (this number will grow in the months ahead). NBII involvement grew out of our work with the Defense Environmental Program, sometimes referred to as Legacy (short for The Legacy Resource Management Program). Legacy supports the conservation and protection of the nation’s natural and cultural heritage, assisting DoD in protecting and enhancing resources while supporting military readiness. Through Legacy funds, the NBII and DoD partner HGL developed a number of improvements beyond the initial version of the DoD TES system. NBII efforts have included overall software development; revising and updating the existing metadata standards; ensuring the system is fully compliant with federal information system Americans with Disabilities Act and National Institute of Standards and Technology security requirements; providing ongoing system maintenance, backup, and system administration technical support; and providing content manager training and user support to the designated DoD federal and contractor staff. The site is significantly leveraging the NBII’s investment in the Oracle Web Center (formerly Plumtree) Portal framework. The site is easy to navigate. Just go to the box at the top left portion of the home page and you’ll see that users can search for repository documents by document type, keyword, species, or stressor (climate change, fire, habitat fragmentation or loss, invasives, military training, and wildlife disease) using simple drop-down menus. The ability to search full-text or via standardized metadata also exists. Clicking on “document type” shows the range of documents available: abstracts, biological opinions, directives, environmental assessments, environmental impact studies, fact sheets, INRMPs (Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans), management plans, memoranda of understanding, profiles, summaries, surveys, and technical reports. Click one of those categories and document names pop up, along with related metadata. Click on the link to open the document itself. To submit a document for inclusion in the repository, send an e-mail to and the site administrator will respond with information to access the Input Tool. “The NBII stepped in to help DoD build and create a Web-enabled repository that is available throughout the country,” said Frame. “Through our partnership, DoD is able to use an information infrastructure that’s already paid for by taxpayer dollars. We’re really pleased with that, and we think the site’s visitors will be very pleased with what they find.”

(Image: A broad range of U.S. military bases provide data sets for the DoD TES Document Repository.)

Tricolored Blackbird Portal Provides Data Entry, Access and Sharing Capabilities

The tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), a bird of conservation concern, is nearly endemic to California. More than 95 percent of the world’s population resides in California with additional small numbers of birds in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Baja California. The males of these very social songbirds are mostly glossy black with a bright red shoulder patch and a prominent white wing bar beneath. These features distinguish the male tricolor from its much more widespread and abundant relative, the red-winged blackbird, which is not colonial, lacks the tricolor’s glossy plumage, and has an orangered shoulder patch with a dull yellow wing bar.
Formerly most abundant in coastal marshes, the tricolor’s freshwater marsh breeding habitats have been reduced by conversion to agriculture and urban spaces. Now the tricolor’s largest breeding colonies are located in agricultural areas and the harvest of the grains used by tricolors often conflicts with breeding activities. The production of entire breeding efforts can be lost if the crops are harvested before the young are able to fly. Programs that provide funding to some affected landowners to delay harvest are in place, but longer-term strategies are needed to conserve the species. The tricolored blackbird was selected in 2005 as a focal species under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Focal Species Strategy as a result of severe population declines, habitat loss, and species vulnerability. This species represents one of 139 focal species identified in the strategy for which conservation planning and implementation will be undertaken to bring their populations to healthy or sustainable levels. Under the strategy, the Tricolored Blackbird Working Group was formed as part of a voluntary process to conserve the species, with representatives from state and federal agencies, landowners, nonprofit groups, and academia. The working group produced a conservation plan in 2007 that describes four elements believed essential to conserve the species: conservation and management; research and monitoring; data storage and management; and education and outreach. In partnership with the Tricolored Blackbird Working Group, the USFWS, and the University of California-Davis, the NBII provides support for development of the Tricolored Blackbird Portal. This Portal helps meet the goals set out in the Data Storage and Management section of the conservation plan. The Tricolored Blackbird Portal provides access to current documented information related to the species’ life history and conservation actions, as well as access to reports, images, links to tricolors in the news, and descriptions of research and monitoring efforts. The Portal utilizes open-source applications, Drupal as the content-management system, and MySQL as the database back-end to enable the entry and documentation of existing legacy data related to the locations, sizes, nest substrates, and population size estimates of colonies. The 150 volunteer participants in this year’s State-wide Tricolor Survey in California were able to enter the records of their observations via the Portal — the first time online data entry for a survey have been available. The site also utilizes an Application Programming Interface (API) for Google Maps to enable users to locate colonies. Data entered into the Portal are shared with state (California Department of Fish and Game), national (Avian Knowledge Network), and international (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) data-sharing efforts that are also supported by the NBII. “The Portal is a great asset to tricolored blackbird conservation,” said Mike Green, USFWS. Future enhancements to the site include moving from Google Maps to an open-source mapping tool, providing visualization tools to retrieve data, adding data on colony productivity estimates, and additional enhancements as suggested by site users.

(Photo credit: Tricolored Blackbird - Photo by Robert J. Meese)

Metadata Goes Global

To promote the establishment of a World Data Center in Africa, the NBII hosted participants from South Africa and Rwanda in Reston, VA, for two weeks of informatics training. A significant piece of launching a data-oriented infrastructure is the establishment of a metadata program. Metadata is a critical component for not only describing and documenting data sets, but is a significant driver in an organization’s ability to share data efficiently. An “Introduction to Metadata” workshop was presented by Viv Hutchison (USGS-NBII) on the first of three days devoted to the topic of metadata. Participants were introduced to the concept of metadata, its value, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the NBII Biological Data Profile. In addition, participants learned about the history of metadata, how profiles and extensions add to the standard, how to write good metadata records, and how to implement a metadata program in an organization. Finally, the participants spent time creating a metadata record using Metavist software. This hands-on experience will empower the South African and Rwandan participants to create their own metadata records once they return to their offices. On the following two days, fresh with new skills in metadata production, the participants engaged in a “Train the Trainer” course taught by Viv Hutchison (NBII) and Kathy Martinolich (NOAA). The workshop focused on building the skills necessary to teach metadata to audiences of their own. After a day of instruction on how to construct solid lesson plans and presentation skills, the participants were asked to create their own lesson plans and present them to their peers. Each person was allowed 10 minutes. The presentation was then followed up by constructive criticism from the class and the instructors. These metadata workshops are a product of the NBII’s Metadata Program, which takes a broad approach to the collection and production of metadata. The NBII maintains a Metadata Clearinghouse that contains over 46,000 records – all of which use the FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata format, and the majority of which contain the Biological Data Profile (BDP). The BDP was designed by the NBII as a set of extended elements to the FGDC Standard that allow biologists to include information about their research, such as taxonomy, methodology, and analytical tools in their metadata records. The use of the standard is a requirement of federal agencies, thus the need for metadata workshops to teach scientists and data managers how to produce records. Once records are in production, the NBII also offers a quality control service to record creation assistance. The participants from South Africa and Rwanda will have access to all of the tools provided by the NBII Metadata Program as they embark on creating a program of their own. If you are interested in learning more about the NBII Metadata Program or how your organization might engage in some of the activities mentioned in this article, please contact Viv Hutchison or 206-526-6282 x329 for more information.

Training Prepares Visitors from South Africa and Rwanda to Open the First World Data Center in Africa

From February 23 to March 6, 2009, the NBII conducted a biological informatics infrastructure training course for eleven participants from South Africa and Rwanda at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Headquarters in Reston, VA. The primary objective of the training was to provide participants with the data, information, and technical knowledge needed to begin to develop and implement the first World Data Center (WDC) in Africa, the International Council for Science’s (ICSU) sponsored World Data Center for Biodiversity and Human Health (WDC-BHH). Participants included experts in biodiversity and informatics from the following organizations: South African National Research Foundation (NRF; host for the new WDC-BHH), South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON/NRF), University of Pretoria, South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), University of Rwanda, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, and Rwandan Institute of Scientific and Technological Research. The first week of training was designed to expose participants to a wide range of topics, including informatics, spatial data management, biodiversity, ecology, and wildlife human health. Presentations were made by representatives from a variety of organizations, including the NBII. Among the presenters was Roger Sayre from the USGS’s Geographic Analysis and Monitoring Program (GAM), who presented some of the latest geospatial data sets of the African continent as well as a new initiative to map the ecosystems of all of Africa. Another presenter was Cris Marsh of the NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node, who offered an in depth look at obtaining and making available national and global wildlife and zoonotic disease information. Mark Becker of Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network’s(CIESIN) WDC for Human Interactions in the Environment introduced participants to a wide array of Africa-specific geospatial and associated human health data and initiatives. During one of the two course-associated field trips, participants visited the National Library of Congress, where they received a behind-the-scenes tour that included observing the latest document digitization techniques and east African collections. Additional technical subjects covered during the first week of training included: biological informatics; infrastructure design, maintenance, and support; data standards, collection, processing, integration, and security; biodiversity; ecology; conservation management; pollinators; and invasive species. These additional topics were presented by experts from the following organizations: NBII (i.e., Invasive Species Information and Infrastructure Nodes and Digital Image Library), Gap Analysis Program, Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), WDC for Biodiversity and Ecology (hosted by the NBII); Smithsonian Institution; Encyclopedia of Life; Catalog of Life; and Barcode of Life. The second week of training included a three-day hands-on workshop on metadata standards and creation, including a train-the-trainer component, which was conducted by experts from the NBII and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to participants, the experience was invaluable, particularly in relation to lessons learned in the execution of biological informatics programs. As stated by Heila Pienaar of the University of Pretoria, “Although I’ve had a good grasp of data management, I still experienced specific gaps in terms of implementation. The two week training course at the USGS filled those gaps very adequately.” For more information on the WDC-BHH or the informatics training, contact Christine Fournier or Thomas Hermann.

(Photo: Participants in the biological informatics infrastructure training course, including trainees from South Africa and Rwanda and the metadata instructors.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Protected Areas Database for the United States Now Available

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) NBII Gap Analysis Program (GAP) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) have joined forces to design the most collaborative and current protected areas database of our nation (PAD-US). The vision of this group, the PADUS Partnership, is to provide guidance and resources to maintain protected lands data with greater accuracy anddetail than was previously possible. The Partnership defines protected areas as “lands dedicated to the preservation of biological diversity and to other natural, recreational, and cultural uses managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means” and includes the USGS, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Conservation Biology Institute, GreenInfo Network, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). In April 2009, GAP aggregated the first version of the Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-Usv1) on behalf of the PAD-US Partnership. These data are required to fulfill GAP’s mission to provide state, regional, and national assessments of the conservation status of native vertebrate species and natural land cover types and to facilitate the application of this information to land management activities. To fulfill the NBII mission to facilitate the widest possible access to and use of biological data and information, GAP worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) to link PAD-US to the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). In addition, the PADUS database will be submitted annually to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation ( for integration into the North American Environmental Atlas. These linkages will facilitate collaboration among conservation organizations and land managers by establishing a consistent understanding of protected lands status whether the focus is global or local. PAD-US is a geodatabase that combines administrative boundaries with attributes of ownership, management, and conservation measures. Available information includes: geographic boundaries of public land ownership and voluntarily provided private conservation lands (e.g., TNC preserves); a combination of land owner, manager, management designation, parcel name, and source of geographic information of each mapped land unit; International Union for Conservation of Nature category ; and GAP Status Codes intended to provide a measurement of management commitment for longterm biodiversity protection.

GAP categorizes protected areas (see PADUS map) as:

• Status Code 1: lands managed solely for biodiversity conservation in perpetuity

• Status Code 2: lands managed primarily for biodiversity conservation with some management (e.g., suppression of wildfire or activities designed to mimic natural disturbances)

• Status Code 3: lands having permanent protection from natural land cover conversion, but are subject to extractive uses (e.g., logging or mining)

• Status Code 4: lands not managed for conservation or for which there is no information

Protected areas are both uniquely and uniformly identified in the geodatabase by standardized parcel names and coded management designations. In addition, a parcel’s contextual setting is maintained through standardized attributes such as “Class” (Federal, Tribal, City, or Private) and “State Name.” Updates in several northwestern states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and California) are underway in addition to additional outreach and collaboration with data partners. The mission of GAP includes promoting conservation by providing broad geographic information on biological diversity to resource managers, planners, and policy makers who can use the information to make informed decisions. As part of the NBII — a collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation’s biological resources — GAP data and 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 protected areas information since the late 1980s. PAD-US demonstrates the collaborative efforts of the PAD-US Partnership to share data and leverage resources. PAD-US will be continually updated and improved. For more information, see <> or contact John Mosesso, Gap Analysis Program Manager.

Search Ends for New NBII Search Engine …Implementation Begins

Access Newsletter, Spring 2009
Volume 12, Number 2

Search Ends for New NBII Search Engine
…Implementation Begins

In the fall 2008 issue of Access we said a new and improved search engine was coming to the NBII. Now – drum roll – we’re most pleased to say, “It’s here!” The contract to implement the NBII’s new search engine was awarded on February 19, 2009 to VivĂ­simo, a Pittsburgh-based search software company founded in 2000 that is emerging as an industry leader. An example of a Vivisimo implementation is available on, the official Web portal of the U.S. government. “It’s safe to say we can now offer our users one of the most advanced search engines available on any biodiversity Web site,” said Jim Erwin, coordinator of the NBII Search Engine Evaluation team. The new search engine will offer many advantages over the NBII’s existing search function. Here are a few examples of new capabilities that will be available:

• The search interface is easy to use. What’s more, the search results arrive preorganized in a variety of groups created on the fly (clustered), which allows users to focus on particular categories or browse through related fields, thus avoiding a common “overload” problem of sorting through too many results.

• The search is set up to cast a wide net. When a user executes a search, the search engine has been customized to crawl – simultaneously – 35 key repositories of biodiversity data and information (this number will grow). Results arrive from
all of those sources in one search. The repositories – which include Web sites, databases, and federated resources – have been painstakingly selected from those offered by governments (federal, state, and local), nonprofits, the private sector, educational institutions, and more.

• Users can do a basic search by putting keywords in the search box (located in the NBII home page banner) or an advanced search with metadata fields. They can also specify how many results they want to come back.

• The search engine will also be integrated with Google Maps. For instance, if you’re looking for species records that are geospatially referenced, you’ll soon be able to display that information on the appropriate map.

• Users can search for images. The images come back as thumbnails. Just click on a thumbnail to open it up and examine it further. You can also search information associated with an image. And the list of benefits goes on and on. “Choosing and customizing this search engine has been a long, exhaustive process that we expect
to conclude by July 15,” said Erwin. “But we really feel like all the effort is
worth it – and we’re sure our users will agree.”

SAIN in the News

The March 2009 Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership Newsletter identifies the SAIN Southeast Collaboration and Partnership Community on the My.NBII.Gov portal as the “resource center” for the Southern Instream Flow Network helping members “share information, documents, ideas, and tools.” This group is very actively using the collaboration portal.

Rare Land Snails of the Cherokee National Forest

Southern Appalachian Information Node

A manual on rare land snails is now Web-enabled and on the SAIN Web site
through a book reader application developed by Farial Shahnaz. The book reader application provides several options for navigating the manual including by table of content, page browsing, and direct links using species name. The manual, written by Dr. Ronald Caldwell and Daniel Dourson, was funded by the Forest Service. "Rare Land Snails of the Cherokee National Forest” includes information on the Southern Appalachian snail fauna, collecting techniques, survey protocol, and an identification key with illustrations for rapid identification. In addition, the manual also describes ecological communities where these snails may be expected to occur.


Southern Appalachian Information Node, in partnership with the Central Southwest Gulf Coast Information Node

At the 2009 Content Developers Workshop held in Baltimore, MD, members of
the Central Southwest Gulf Coast Information Node (CSWGCIN) were introduced to Tanner Jessel of the Southern Appalachian Information
Node (SAIN) and immediately began networking. After much discussion on issues that both regions share, we recognized we could leverage portlets to increase access to NBII content. This collaboration has resulted in ten shared portlets: eight species spotlights and two issue highlights. Examples include the distribution of the invasive nutria. These portlets are the first products of our new partnership.
We look forward to working with SAIN and other nodes in the future to help
make the NBII an increasingly rich resource for biological information.

FAR-SAIN Share Aquatic Resources Content

Southern Appalachian Information Node

The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (FAR) Node recently unveiled a new Aquatic Invertebrates section on the FAR portal Web site that provides access to information on annelids, arthropods, cnidarians, ctenophores, echinoderms, flatworms, mollusks, ribbon worms, and sponges. Some of the portlets developed by FAR for its aquatic Organisms pages have been utilized on the Southern Appalachian Information Node (SAIN) Web site: Aquatic Invertebrates as Indicator Species, OneFish directory, FishBase, North American Native Fishes Association, Leeches feature, Visit the Unio Gallery, and Photographs of Freshwater Invertebrates. In turn, the FAR site has incorporated SAIN portlets on Dragonflies & Damselflies, Mayflies, and Stoneflies. This fruitful FAR-SAIN collaboration has improved user access to valuable resources and has reduced the work load for both nodes.

Species Mashup Pages Working Group

Southern Appalachian Information Node

The goal of this working group is to develop a strategy for implementing
mashup pages throughout the NBII. This effort builds upon the Species of
Greatest Conservation Need
(SGCN) mashup pages from the SAIN Web site. The basic approach will be to provide content managers with tools to relate species (scientific names), topics (threatened and endangered, migratory birds, SGCN, etc.), and content sources to build interactive Web pages. The group consists of Sky Harrison (PBIN), Julie Prior-Magee (SWIN), Jennifer Carlino (CAIN, PNWIN, MPIN, and WDIN), Dan Phillips (CSWGCIN), Lisa Zolly (Program Office, Knowledge Management), Annette Olson (Program Office, SKMWG), Farial Shahnaz, (SAIN), Tanner Jessel (SAIN), and Jean Freeney (SAIN). The result of this working group will be a toolkit of instructions, templates, and process flows to aid content managers in developing mashup pages. Species identified in state wildlife action plans are being used as the test bed for the development of the toolkit.

Pacific Northwest (PNW) Habitat Classification Systems Database Online

The PNW Habitat Classification Systems database (PHaCS) provides users the
ability to view different systems used to classify habitats in the PNW and it also
provides cross-walks between systems. In collaboration with the Northwest Habitat Institute (NHI), the NBII, and the Bonneville Power Administration, the database was released online. In an effort to complete the system, the NBII and other partners are looking for ways to obtain resources to finish the product for the region and hope to include California as well.

MPIN Regional News Page Launched

Mountain Prairie Information Node

MPIN released the MPIN Regional News Page in March 2009. This site provides timely news about natural resources in the Mountain Prairie Region of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Subscribe to this feed at <>.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Updated RSS News Feed for Bird Conservation Node

Bird Conservation Node

The Bird Conservation Node Web site now offers a page dedicated to recent news articles of relevance to bird conservation. Articles are provided via the Bird Conservation News RSS, a news feed created with Yahoo! Pipes that aggregates articles from the American Bird Conservancy’s Bird News Network and the NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node’s Wildlife Disease News Digest.

Blog and RSS Feed Launched for Butterflies and Moths of North America Database

The Butterflies and Moths of North America Database (BAMONA) launched the BAMONA Blog in March 2009. This blog provides real time updates about entries to the database such as the addition of new photographs, new records, and new species accounts. Blog posts are tagged with the type of update, the coordinator’s name, and geographic location. Posts can be sorted by these tags, so users can view a sub-set of posts that are relevant to them. The blog has a main RSS feed and individual feeds for each tag. The Mountain Prairie Information Node (MPIN) and the NBII Pollinators Web sites are consuming the main BAMONA Blog RSS. Other NBII Nodes and Projects are welcome to add the RSS feed to their site.  Click here to see an example of the blog feed on the Mountain Prairie Information Node website.

(Photo: Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) in ironweed.  Photo used with permission from © Vicki DeLoach/Vicki's Nature, on Flickr.)

Efforts Wrap Up on Sage Brush Ecosystem and Sage Grouse Project

(Cross-Node Collaboration, Southwest Information Node and Pacific Northwest Information Node)

The Cooperative Agreement with Utah State University (USU) that focused on work related to the sage brush ecosystem and sage grouse ended on January 31, 2009. Financial support for the agreement came from the Pacific Northwest along with an integrated collaboration approach with the Great Basin Information Project (GBIP) to achieve the objectives. USU worked across the Great Basin region and provided support for the development and maintenance of the Local Working Group Locator and the Livestock Grazing best management practices bibliography in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, which are both now hosted by NBII’s GBIP. USU also helped with the development of maps and other visualization tools for the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) and facilitated connections with many regional efforts such as the Cooperative Sagebrush Initiative.

Efforts Wrap Up on Sage Brush Ecosystem and Sage Grouse Project

Pacific Northwest Information Node

The Cooperative Agreement with Utah State University (USU) that focused on work related to the sage brush ecosystem and sage grouse ended on January 31, 2009. Primary financial support for the agreement came from the Pacific Northwest Information Node. The projects were integrated with work being done by the Great Basin Information Project (GBIP) to achieve the objectives. USU worked across the Great Basin region and provided support for content and map development for the Local Working Group (LWG)Locator and database development for the Livestock Grazing best management practices bibliography in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management. Both the LWG and Grazing Best Management Practices continue to be hosted by NBII’s GBIP. USU also worked directly with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to develop maps and other visualization tools (see article on Sage Brush Ecosystems under NBII-Cross Node Collaboration in this issue for more information about this effort).

Northwest Habitat Institute Projects Wraps Up

Pacific Northwest Information Node

The project with the NHI that focused on regional information issues wraps up this spring. NHI is a non-profit scientific and educational organization that promotes the conservation of Pacific Northwest native species and habitats through the development and dissemination of data-rich and verifiable information, maps, and tools; and the restoration and enhancement of native habitats. NHI worked across the region and helped in the development of the Northwest Environmental Data Network (NED) Demonstration Project and getting the Pacific Northwest Habitat Classification Systems Database online. The NBII and NHI will continue to look for additional opportunities to facilitate data delivery in the region.