Internet-based Biodiversity Database Workshop April 24 - 27, 2000


North American Biodiversity Information Network

Dr. Marcos Silva

Program Manager, NABIN

The ability to gain knowledge from data and information is essential to the development of sound environmental and economic policy decisions. Yet, until recently it has been exceedingly difficult undertake complex analyses of environmental and biological information on North America as a region. To find solutions to this problem, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation ( http://www.cec.org ), along with other institutions and organizations initiated the North American Biodiversity Information Network (NABIN) ( http://www.cec.org/programs_projects/conserv_biodiv/bio_cons_mechanism/index.cfm?varlan=english ). In the span of three years, NABIN has supported a project developed by the University of Kansas, called the Species Analyst ( http://habanero.nhm.ukans.edu/TSA/ ). Using the Species Analyst, it is possible to query simultaneously large and complex databases of environmental information, retrieve data and undertake new analyses with the data. For example, with these new information tools, it is possible to map possible areas susceptible to exotic species and so develop more proactive approaches to the problem. NABIN is also examining the possibility of linking health data to environmental data so policy makers better understand the interactions between environmental change and human health. Finally, NABIN, through the development of tools like the Species Analyst, believes that the public greatly benefits from an information management philosophy that stresses collaboration, public involvement and a non-elitist approach to information sharing.