Question: What is the NBII?
Answer: The National Biological Information Infrastructure <NBII> is a broad, collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation's biological resources. 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, or conservation of this nation's biological resources.
Question: Who manages the NBII Program?
Answer: The NBII Program is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey's Biological Informatics Office. If you have a question about the management of the NBII, or if you wish to obtain more information about our Program and partnerships, please contact our Program Manager:
NBII Program Manager
USGS Biological Informatics Office
302 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Question: Can NBII help make some of my datasets available on the Internet?
Answer: Yes. If your dataset is of a particular regional interest, please contact the NBII Node Manager on the www.NBII.gov Web site. Choose "Geographic Perspectives", make a regional choice, then choose "About the Node" in the left navigation column. Additionally, select "Ecological Topics" for Node Managers contact information on national themes such as Birds, Fish, and Invasive Species.
Alternatively, you may contact the NBII Program Manager at NBII@NBII.gov
Question: How do I look for species information on the NBII?
Answer: Each Regional Node on the NBII Web site has species information pertinent to that area of the country. Click on "Geographic Perspectives" and select a region. Additionally, the "Plants, Animals, and Other Organisms" section of the Web site will have information on species of national interest such as Birds, Fish, and Invasive Species. Taxonomic information can be found at the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):
Alternatively, type a species name in the Search bar located at the top of the NBII Web site.
Question: What kinds of projects are funded by NBII?
Answer: Projects are funded by the NBII based on partner relationships, and range from preparing datasets for publication on the Internet to publication of national vegetation maps or maintenance of widely used databases such as the Invasive Species Database. For a longer list of projects funded by the NBII, see the NBII A-Z Index. A link is located on the home page.
Question: How do I get NBII data?
Answer: NBII data is downloadable from the Web site unless otherwise noted. Please contact the appropriate regional or thematic Node Manager if you have questions or concerns. Contact information is available on "About the Node" webpages on the NBII Web site.
Question: What collaborative tools does the NBII have to offer?
Answer: The NBII Program offers collaborative tools that help decision makers look at data from a variety of sources in one place in order to make informed decisions. For example, the Fire Research and Exchange System (FRAMES) is an interagency fire science program that facilitates the integration and retrieval of comprehensive data and information needed to support fire management and research.
Other examples include the "Global Wildlife Disease News Map" that displays news articles from the Wildlife Disease News Digest. On it users can easily see wildlife disease headlines both locally and globally. The Map displays Wildlife Disease News Digest articles that have been posted within the last 45 days that have a geographical reference. The complete collection of articles goes back to December 2005.
Question: What kind of information can I find on the NBII?
Answer: The NBII Program focuses on wildlife biology and issues surrounding wildlife such as ecosystems, land cover, habitats, and more. Additionally, the NBII supports scientific data management thru the use of standards, including a Clearinghouse for discovering metadata records that describe scientific research, a National Resources Monitoring Partnership (NRMP), and Geospatial Framework, among others.
Question: I am a scientist for the Federal Government and have been told that we must "document our datasets". Can you explain what this means and how I should do this? Thank you.
Answer: Data documentation is an important step in the completion of any scientific study. It means that a scientist should create a detailed record showing how his/her dataset was created. This is generally done using software tools that comply with a metadata standard. There are many reasons that this is a valuable activity. Not only is it a requirement for Federal scientists by Executive Order 12639, but a detailed metadata record will capture valuable information about a dataset that a published paper may not, which will serve useful purposes to a scientist looking back at a dataset. For example, if you have a data call that involves a dataset collected 5 years ago, you may encounter some trouble remembering why you made certain decisions in the collection of that data. Furthermore, if you were to retire or change jobs and someone was given your dataset to maintain and reuse for another purpose, that person would greatly benefit from a detailed description of each of the columns in your excel spreadsheet. In this way, the creation of metadata provides systematic documentation of valuable resources developed by your organization, which benefits the organization by preserving valuable institutional knowledge.
Another reason for doing metadata is that it provides a foundation for data to be discovered and used by other scientists. This is evidenced in the use of metadata repositories such as the NBII Metadata Clearinghouse that serve as important avenues to finding data that have already been collected, analyzed, and reviewed. Discovery of records, which is aided in the use of controlled vocabularies, give researchers and scientists an opportunity to evaluate and access existing data as well as take advantage of new collaboration opportunities between organizations. In this era of partnerships in science, such collaborations could prove highly advantageous.
Federal scientists are required to use the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata standard. A copy can be found on the NBII Web site under "Toolkit" - "Metadata" - "FGDC Metadata" - "Standards". There are many software programs available to help you produce a compliant metadata record, and a description of those is under "Toolkit" - "Metadata" - "FGDC Metadata" - "Tools". Finally, the NBII can provide assistance in the creation of your metadata records as well as offer a way for you to share them with our Clearinghouse. Please contact Viv Hutchison <firstname.lastname@example.org> for more information on metadata.
Question: I am looking for information on bird rookeries and distance between rookeries and development for a wetland mitigation project. Thank you for any assistance you may offer.
Answer: According to some of our contacts, the sensitivity of rookeries to human disturbance is both species-specific as well as dependent upon the nature and extent of the disturbance. While there are some generalities (i.e. disturbance should be avoided), there are always exceptions. Without particular information about species or type of disturbance, perhaps the best place to start is with the Birds of North America accounts for the species of interest. This reference series describes in detailed scientific accounts the life histories of birds that breed in North America, and contains information on issues such as effects of human activity for each species profiled. You could probably find the Birds of North America series at a university science library. If you do have access to a science (biology) library, you could also try to do a literature search under the topic of "human disturbance on colonial birds" and go from there.
Question: Does the NBII have both historical and contemporary data such as maps and aerial photographs, regarding the location of water hyacinth in California?
Answer: Thank you for your email enquiring about data on the location of water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) in California. I have gathered some USGS/NBII and other organization's online information sources on water hyacinth. Some of these resources include photos, maps, and information on the species' distribution specifically within California. The rest provide information for the species' occurrence in other states, and the United States in general.
CalFlora Taxon Report
This report includes distribution in California (based on 51 Observations).
CalWeeds Database search under 'water hyacinth' common name to see project listing for E. crassipes in CA.
CalWeeds Database California weed lists by county.
USDA Plants Database - water hyacinth profile - (includes E. crassipes distribution county map for California)
Bureau of Land Management in California - 2004 water hyacinth cleanup day - Cosumnes River Preserve
Yolo County (Woodland, CA) Resource Conservation District - water hyacinth page - includes a link to "A summary of water hyacinth eradication efforts in California on the State of California Department of Boating and Waterways Web site."
Willow Creek Hyacinth Project - Ponds of the Wildlife History Foundation Inc and funded by the California Department of Water Resources Wildlife Files - Willow Creek and Wildlife Files - Ponds includes progressive photographs of water hyacinth infestation and control.
USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database - water hyacinth species account including distribution - includes October 2003 distribution map.
USGS Southwest Exotic Plant Information Clearinghouse - water hyacinth resources page
USGS Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) <>
Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, University of Florida and Sea Grant - water hyacinth page. * Geographic distribution information on this page prepared by Colette Jacono of USGS.
Exotic Aquatics on the Move - water hyacinth page. Includes photographs, maps, and other information.
You also may be interested in:
- this abstract from the 3rd California Bay-Delta Program Science Conference - October 4-6 2004, Sacramento California
- Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Invasive Plant Manual - water hyacinth page
- Thomas, L. and Anderson, L. (1984) Waterhyacinth control in California. Aquatics 6, 11-16.
- Proceedings of the International Water Hyacinth Consortium - World Bank, Washington D.C., 18-19 March 1997. E.S. Delfosse and Neal R. Spencer (eds).
- Santa Barbara County Weed Management Area - 2003 News stories - November 14, 2004 - Proposed and Assigned Noxious Weeds - "Eichornia crassipes, water hyacinth, is a popular, commonly sold and planted aquatic ornamental within Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner has not prohibited its sale within the County. However, horticulturists and gardeners are requested to take extra care on where and how this plant is cared for in Santa Barbara County. Water hyacinth is causing major problems in natural waterways and irrigation canals in the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta region."
I hope some of these information sources are useful to you. If there is a specific NBII tool or item on our Web site that you would like more information about (or I have not covered/mentioned it here), please let us know.
Question: We've compiled a list of invasive plants found in our large municipal park in Chico, CA and are now researching control techniques for each of the 130 or so plants we've identified as invasive. It's fairly easy to find control techniques for agricultural and riparian weeds but not for escaped landscape plants. I'm looking for a Listserv that focuses on how to eradicate invasive landscaping plants, such as Italian arum, Vinca major, privets etc. Any ideas?
Answer: Thank you for contacting the National Biological Information Infrastructure with your question about control methods for invasive garden plants. Indeed, much of the research and resources available on invasive plant control do tend to be focused on agricultural weeds. The invasive species community is working hard to add information for members of the horticultural and landscaping industries. We appreciate your interest in managing for escaped landscape plants and other invasive plants in your municipal park. I have included some links to online resources about invasive species in California in this email. I hope that you find them useful and applicable to your invasive plant control needs. If there are other specific species on your list that you would like control information for, please let me know and I will see what I can find for you (sometimes it's easier to find control information for individual species rather than trying to find a single resource that has control information for all of the species on your list at the same time).
Italian Arum - Arum italicum
- Discussion on eradication of Italian arum (Arum italicum)
According to Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas web site, the Native Plant Society of Oregon in 2002 reported Arum italicum as an invasive species. Given the lack of information on controlling this species, I suggest you try to contact the Native Plant Society of Oregon to find out whether they have any recommendations.
Periwinkle - Vinca major
The Nature Conservancy - Elemental Stewardship Abstract - Vinca Major - See V. Management/Monitoring for information on controlling this species.
Santa Margarita and San Luis Rey Watersheds Weed Management Area
Vinca major information page
Envirotalk listserv (not-for-profit Australian environmental discussion forum) - Discussion about Vinca major control
Chemical Control of Blue Periwinkle (Vinca major L.) in Croajingolong National Park, Victoria <Australia>. Plant Protection Quarterly 14(2):47-50.
Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.
Vincas, Periwinkles page - including management/control recommendations
European/Chinese Privet page
Japanese/Glossy Privet page
The California Native Plant Society maintains several listservs including one on Plant Conservation Issues.
California Society for Ecological Restoration - A non-profit membership based organization dedicated to the purpose of bringing about the recovery of damaged California ecosystems. This organization maintains the SERCAL Discussion Group where individuals interested in Ecological Restoration can post messages, articles, ask questions, get into discussions, keep informed, and leave responses. The SERCAL Discussion Group has established it's own " Internet Mail List." This is simply an email "bulletin board" where messages can be posted and replied to in a public forum. You can choose to receive individual messages or a daily "digest" of messages posted to the SERCAL Discussion List at your personal email address.
California WeedTalk provides a forum for discussion of invasive plant issues in California. Sponsored by California Invasive Plant Council, this listserv serves to facilitate information sharing between its members and others concerned about "wildland weeds," those particular plants that damage the state's ecosystems. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to email@example.com.
The CalWeedMapping Listserv is a forum for discussing topics related to mapping weeds, monitoring invasion spread and treatment success, and managing and sharing data. Subscribe using the CalWeedMapping Subscription Form. You can unsubscribe from any message from the list.
The Nature Conservancy's Invasive Species Initiative maintains an invasive species listserv for people who are working in any aspect of invasive species issues. TNC staff in California have developed an early detection volunteer program to patrol for invasive species.
Control / Other Resources:
(PDF) The Pipevine (May 2005) - Newsletter of the Mount Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society - (General Meeting - May 2, 2005, Butte County Library, Chico).
(PDF) Invasive Plants and California Gardens
Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands
Species Accounts - Plant descriptions are available listed in the following categories and include physical, biologicaly, and chemical control options/information:
Common Name Species List
Scientific Name Species List
Weeds Gone Wild: Alien Plant Invaders of Natural Areas - A web-based project of the Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group, that provides information for the general public, land managers, researchers, and others on the serious threat and impacts of invasive alien (exotic, non-native) plants to the native flora, fauna, and natural ecosystems of the United States. Provides CONTROL and MANAGEMENT options/information for specific species listed by Scientific Name or by common name.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) - Invasive Plant Documents & Photographs - This page includes links to resources specific to individual invasive plant species. All of The Nature Conservancy's invasive plant species summaries can be downloaded here, including "Element Stewardship Abstracts" (or ESAs), which are particularly large, researched, and inclusive management summaries.
(PDF) The Weed Worders' Hand Book - A Guide to Techniques for Removing Bay Area Invasive Plants - The Watershed Project, California Invasive Plant Council.
Wisconsin Manual of Control Recommendations for Ecologically Invasive Plants
Weed Control Methods Handbook (The Nature Conservancy)
(PDF) Weed Control by Species: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, October 2000. California Department of Fish & Game, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
California Weed Science Society
California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) Information for Gardeners
This Web site provides access to the "Don't Plant a Pest!: Alternatives to Invasive Garden Plants" brochure and the proceedings of a 2001 workshop "Linking Ecologya nd Horticullture to Prevent Plant Invasions" which resulted in the "Saint Louis Declaration on Invasive Plant Species" describing voluntary codes of conduct for professionals and the gardening public.
Question: My 3 1/2 yr old son and I have 2 black swallowtail caterpillars, in a habitat. We fed them the plant we found them on and last night one built his crysalis. I am wondering if you could tell me an approximate time of how long it takes before the butterfly emerges....we are both VERY EXCITED to see this wondrous event, and to set her free!! Thanks so much!!
Answer: Thanks for contacting us. What a neat process to experience!
The amount of time it takes for a butterfly to emerge is dependent on a number of factors, but it is generally safe to say that an adult will hatch in 10-14 days, if it does not overwinter.
If you have additional questions about butterflies or moths, please see the frequently asked questions on the Children's Butterfly Site. For a distribution map of the black swallowtail, visit the Butterflies and Moths of North America web site.
Question: I am seeking information on flora and fauna of Arizona & Utah. I understand the Dept of the Interior has maps that detail old miner trails into the Grand Canyon. Would NBII know where to obtain them?
Answer: First I will direct you to the SWIN Web site as one source of information on Southwest biological data sources.
Specifically, regarding your request for information on the flora and fauna of AZ and UT, it depends on what type of information you are looking for. Here are a few possible sources for you to review:
1. Check the AZ Department of Game and Fish and the UT Division of Wildlife Resources from the SWIN website. State game and fish agencies are good sources of information on the wildlife in those states.
2. I would also suggest that you could access information on flora and fauna from the Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project (SWReGAP). SWReGAP is a mapping and assessing of biodiversity for five states in the Southwest <including Arizona and Utah>.
3. Lastly, several federal agencies conduct research and management activities for flora and fauna in Arizona and Utah. Depending on what you are looking for their Web sites may have information of interest. The agencies include: US Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service.
Regarding your question about maps that detail old mining trails into the Grand Canyon, following are a few possible sources of information:
Grand Canyon National Park Web site. This site has information on the Park trails (some of which are old mining trails). In particular the Bright Angel Trail was an old mining trail. There is a place to contact Park staff who could have access to a map of old mining trails for the area. I tend to think Park Staff may be the best source of specific maps for the Grand Canyon.
In addition USGS does produce maps, and provides information on how to access products from the USGS. I am not aware of a specific map produced of old mine trails in the Grand Canyon.
I hope that some of these sources of information will help you. If you have a more specific question related to what type of flora and fauna information you are looking for I may be able to give you more detailed sources. Thanks.
Question: I am looking to find the life expectancy of my tiger salamanders. They were found in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Answer: According to various reptile vets and herpetologists, tiger salamanders can live from 13-20 years, if they have the proper habitat and food. You may want to look at these resources for more specifics:
Western New York Herpetological Society Fact Sheet for tiger salamanders
Colorado Herpetological Society Tiger Salamander Information
Animal Planet's Tiger Salamander Page
We hope this information is useful. Thanks for your question, and for visiting the National Biological Information Infrastructure Web site.