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Proposed research


Geoconnections Access Program: Public Access to Canadian Atlantic Marine Biodiversity Data

Objective

This project will lay the groundwork to enable :: Centre for Marine Biodiversity :: (CMB) members to consolidate their disparate data and specimen collections into an integrated database system permitting Internet access via accepted international standards including data portals.

Background:

The CMB is a non-profit society whose diverse membership includes a consortium of DFO laboratories, universities and NGOs with a mandate to enhance and focus scientific activity in support of the protection of marine biodiversity in the northwest Atlantic. A central CMB tenet is that historical and contemporary data on species distributions are essential to address such important topics as biodiversity, impacts of human activities on marine species, recovery plans for rare and endangered species, marine protected areas, and ecosystem health. Most CMB member organizations hold geo-referenced ecological data and/or specimen collections relevant to these goals. At the same time, DFO policy calls for all of its science data to be quality controlled, stored in managed archive facilities and available for full and open public access. Furthermore, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) operates an extensive computing facility including a wide range of publicly accessible Internet services.

Proposal:

The long term goals of this project are to 1) establish common minimum data and image capture facilities for CMB members, 2) extend consolidation, archiving and inventory facilities at BIO to include CMB member data, and 3) extend public access facilities for these data at BIO to be consistent with international exchange standards. CMB members will not change existing data collection methods, except in cases where they are not collecting the minimum required data (e.g. collection time and location ). BIO will provide data processing facilities for all CMB members in much the same fashion as it currently does for industry partners. Public access will include serving data to distributed query networks and data portals as well as the production of web pages to browse inventory metadata, extract data, view images, produce maps and graphs.

The current application requests GeoConnections support for one year to lay the groundwork for this project, comprising the following tasks: 1) identification of CMB member datasets to be included (Note - the CMB encompasses nationwide membership. However, since its genesis was in Atlantic Canada, members are predominantly from this region. Though partners in this proposal represent this skewed membership, GeoConnections funding will enable a more national approach.), 2) necessary training, 3) characterization of technical details, conformance to international data standards and production of metadata, 4) initial experimentation with the data model, and 5) development of a larger proposal for implementation (development of protocols for data transfer, integration of partners' datasets, web enabling, and quality control) to achieve the long term goal of an integrated CMB biodiversity database available via the Internet.

Benefits:

CMB members will gain access to secure archiving and exchange facilities that they otherwise could not afford. The research community, decision makers, and the public will gain consistent and reliable access to data that would otherwise be available only as a highly variable collection of disparate data. For example, Right Whales, of immense ecological and commercial (tourism) importance, congregate to feed at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. What prey organisms live there in sufficient numbers to support this voracious gathering of whales, and why? This question undoubtedly has occurred to many educators and tourists. Similarly, biodiversity is the paramount criterion for Marine Protected Area selection. Many data crucial to selection reside with CMB members. Clearly, this proposal will facilitate research and public awareness of marine biodiversity issues which are currently restricted by a non-representative data base. Furthermore, Canada has committed to managing its marine resources within an ecological context, and the information system that we develop will provide a valuable tool to do so.

Sustainability:

The CMB was formed in response to the international 1992 Convention for Biological Diversity, FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, along with the Canadian 1997 Oceans Act and the proposed Species At Risk Act (Bill C-5). There is currently a five-year commitment for the CMB. A number of A-based DFO scientists from both Science and Oceans and Environment Branches are committed to the Centre and/or the component studies.

Phasing:

This will be a three-year project. GeoConnections funding for year one is requested herein to accomplish the initial tasks detailed above.

Project Partners and Components:

DFO

  • Year 1(current application): direction/collaboration in characterization of technical details, conformance to international data standards and production of metadata, and initial experimentation with the data model
  • Years 2-3: operation of a full-feature node and secure staging area for biodiversity data of CMB members

Atlantic Reference Centre

Tasks:

  • coordination of current CMB partners, and communication with potential new CMB partners, in identification of datasets to be included in the project
  • current application goals 2-4 for ARC data:
    • computerized museum database, currently representing ca. 34,000 records of Canadian Atlantic organisms
    • an externally funded project to computerize ca. 180,000 records of fish eggs and larvae is in progress and will be appended to the museum database
  • coordination of current application goal 5

·Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre (AC CDC)

Tasks:

  • current application goals 2-4 for AC CDC data:
    • computerized database consisting of geo-referenced information for rare marine organisms, including rare marine birds, mammals and anadromous fish (Note - this proposal is independent of but complementary to NatureServe Canada's current GeoConnections Access project focusing on terrestrial biodiversity, to which AC CDC is a party.)
  • links to species lists of rare and endangered marine organisms in the Northwest Atlantic, as determined by panels of experts in various taxonomic groups, using ranking methodology of NatureServe and the hemisphere-wide network of Conservation Data Centres and Natural Heritage Programs

·Nova Scotia Museum (NSM)

Tasks:

  • current application goals 2-4 for NSM data:
    • computerized and geo-referenced marine fish, mammal, and bird collections

Marine Invertebrate Diversity Initiative (MIDI)

Tasks:

  • current application goals 2-4 for MIDI data:
    • computerized component of species list of, and species profiles for, Canadian Atlantic marine benthic invertebrates, based partially on NS Museum records

Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN)

Tasks:

  • current application goals 2-4 for CMN data:
    • computerized Canadian marine fish database

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