California Natural Diversity Database news updates
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 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: Creating Point Features from the CNDDB Spatial Data (PDF).
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.
The CNDDB has added a new feature to the publicly accessible CNDDB QuickView Tool. In addition to generating lists of CNDDB elements for quads and counties, users can now view CNDDB quad-level data for any selected CNDDB-tracked element. Both CNDDB Mapped Data and Unprocessed Data will be displayed as with other searches in the CNDDB QuickView. Mapped Data indicates data that has been evaluated by CNDDB biologists and mapped into the CNDDB’s Element Occurrence database. Unprocessed Data indicates data that has not been quality-checked by CNDDB staff and should be used with caution. This new feature provides users with an easy way to visualize CNDDB quad-level data for a species. For more information on the CNDDB QuickView Tool, see our User Guide.
Biogeographic Data Branch
(916) 322-2493 | BDB@wildlife.ca.gov