Concern regarding the escalating rate of habitat fragmentation and destruction has increased the demand for easily accessible, up-to-date data and information on at-risk species and high quality natural communities. The International Network of Conservation Data Centers is among the most widely consulted sources for detailed information about the condition and location of these species and communities. While individual Conservation Data Centers have largely met the demand for their data at the jurisdictional level, the cumulative value of the information residing within the Network has not been realized because it is not accessible to those who could best use it. Researchers, planners and policy makers addressing issues of wide-ranging species or ecosystems regularly contact the Network for information sets, yet they are hampered by the fact that the data are distributed among separate Centers. The principles of biodiversity informatics, automated access to large data sets with an emphasis on communication and ease-of-use,would yield tremendous benefits to the scientific and land management communities if applied to the Network's database system.

This workshop is Phase I of a multi-year, phased project to explore and address the need for a functional, distributed data system for the Network. Expert biologists, information scientists and managers, computer scientists, Internet specialists, and GIS programmers will be invited to evaluate the latest technological developments and determine how to make multi-jurisdictional Conservation Data Center data available to researchers and other users through hyperlinks to a main Web page. The result will be an implementation plan for a dynamic, distributed data set that would form the basis for Phases II and III of this project. Phase II is expected to consist of development and curation components in a prototype, multi-state and provincial, distributed data system. Phase III will encompass the full rollout of a validated, distributed data system for the entire International Network of Conservation Data Centers.

To define the need and set the framework for a seamless distributed data system for the International Network of Conservation Data Centers (US Heritage and CDCs in Canada and Latin America).
1. Identify the priority issues and constraints in developing a distributed data access system for the network of Conservation Data Centers. 2. Evaluate distributed database models in the context of the current and future needs for conservation. 3. Design the framework for a prototype database system.
A synthesis of recorded notes from the workshop will be used to guide the development of an action plan. Information in the plan will be utilized for the preparation of a proposal, to be submitted to the National Science Foundation, for Phase II (construction of a prototype database) of the project.

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