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California Natural Diversity Database news updates

collage of photos - birds, flowers, salamander, butterfly, fisher, fish



California Natural Diversity Database news updates

collage of photos - birds, flowers, salamander, butterfly, fisher, fish

Monthly updates for January 2019

Happy (belated) New Year! One of our resolutions is to work on improving our outreach to users, whether data submitters, subscribers, or the general public.  As such, we will be using the CNDDB News blog to share more information about who we are and what we do. 

For starters, here’s a summary for January 2019:

Number of Element Occurrences in Current Distribution: 92,053

Number of Element Occurrences Added Since Last Distribution: 432

Number of Source Documents Added: 1,855

And here are some of the species we’ve been working on:


Ayenia compacta (California ayenia)

Cascadia nuttallii (Nuttall's saxifrage)

Cirsium fontinale var. obispoense (San Luis Obispo fountain thistle)

Cryptantha crymophila (subalpine cryptantha)

Dudleya abramsii ssp. setchellii (Santa Clara Valley dudleya)

Ferocactus viridescens (San Diego barrel cactus)

Geraea viscida (sticky geraea)

Lycium exsertum (Arizona desert-thorn)

Oreonana vestita (woolly mountain-parsley)

Pedicularis dudleyi (Dudley's lousewort)

Potentilla morefieldii (Morefield's cinquefoil)

Rhynchospora capitellata (brownish beaked-rush)

Salvia munzii (Munz's sage)

Streptanthus campestris (southern jewelflower)


Anniella spp. (legless lizards)

Cottus klamathensis klamathensis (Upper Klamath marbled sculpin)

Dipodomys venustus (Narrow-faced kangaroo rat)

Rana boylii (foothill yellow-legged frog)

Spea hammondii (western spadefoot)

Please check back regularly for more updates!

Changes to CNDDB Monthly Data Distribution

We have recently stopped including the point spatial data with our monthly GIS data package. The primary reason for this change is that the point data are often misinterpreted as representing actual element locations or observations.  In fact, the point layer simply represents the centroids of the Element Occurrence (EO) polygons, and is intended to only be used when displaying CNDDB data on small-scale maps (i.e., maps that are zoomed out to show large areas).  Furthermore, the polygons we create are not actually point observations, but instead reflect summary records for a given species (element) at a given location, and the size/shape of the polygons are based on the uncertainty of the location information associated with the records being summarized.  This methodology has been employed by natural heritage programs for several decades, and the CNDDB bases our mapping standards on this Element Occurrence model in order to stay consistent with what other programs in the NatureServe network are doing (in other words, we want to make sure that an EO in California represents the same thing as an EO elsewhere).

If anyone is interested in learning more, you can read about the Element Occurrence standard on link opens in new tab or window NatureServe's Element Occurrence Data Standard web page.  We have created a document that provides additional information, and includes instructions on how to generate a point shapefile using the CNDDB polygon layer if you have a need to do so: link opens in new tab or window Creating Point Features from the CNDDB Spatial Data (PDF).

New Lead Scientist

Misty Nelson photo

Misty Nelson was recently hired as the Lead Scientist and supervisor of the CNDDB program. She brings nearly two decades of experience to the position, including a B.A. in Environmental Biology from the University of Montana, and an M.S. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida, where she studied the acoustic behavior of red grouper from marine reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.  She has worked in a wide range of natural resource science and data management positions, with projects spanning an array of taxa and subjects, including freshwater and marine fisheries, small mammal ecology, aquatic invasive weed surveys, large whale research, and noise and light pollution. Most recently, she worked with the CDFW Wildlife Branch, where she coordinated a large-scale terrestrial biodiversity monitoring effort at hundreds of locations in the Mojave Desert and Central Valley of California.