Executive Summary -- Automated spatial processing technology such as geographic information systems (GIS), telemetry, and satellite-based remote sensing are some of the more recent developments in the long history of geographic inquiry. For millennia, humankind has endeavored to map the Earth's surface and identify spatial relationships. But the precision with which we can locate geographic features has increased exponentially with satellite positioning systems.
Remote sensing, GIS, thematic mapping, telemetry, and satellite positioning systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) are tools that greatly enhance the quality and rapidity of analysis of biological resources. These technologies allow researchers, planners, and managers to more quickly and accurately determine appropriate strategies and actions. Researchers and managers can view information from new and varying perspectives using GIS and remote sensing, and GPS receivers allow the researcher or manager to identify the exact location of interest. These geospatial technologies support the mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Biological Resources Division (BRD) and the Strategic Science Plan (BRD 1996) by providing a cost-effective and efficient method for collection, analysis, and display of information.
The BRD mission is 'to work with others to provide the scientific understanding and technologies needed to support the sound management and conservation of our Nation's biological resources.' A major responsibility of the BRD is to develop and employ advanced technologies needed to synthesize, analyze, and disseminate biological and ecological information. As the Strategic Science Plan (BRD 1996) states, 'fulfilling this mission depends on effectively balancing the immediate need for information to guide management of biological resources with the need for technical assistance and long-range, strategic information to understand and predict emerging patterns and trends in ecological systems.'
Information sharing plays a key role in nearly everything BRD does. The Strategic Science Plan discusses the need to (1) develop tools and standards for information transfer, (2) disseminate information, and (3) facilitate effective use of information. This effort centers around the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), components of the National Information Infrastructure. The NBII and NSDI are distributed electronic networks of biological and geographical data and information, as well as tools to help users around the world easily find and retrieve the biological and geographical data and information they need.
The BRD is responsible for developing scientifically and statistically reliable methods and protocols to assess the status and trends of the Nation's biological resources. Scientists also conduct important inventory and monitoring studies to maintain baseline information on these same resources. Research on those species for which the Department of the Interior (DOI) has trust responsibilities (including endangered species and migratory species) involves laboratory and field studies of individual animals and the environments in which they live. Researchboth tactical and strategicis conducted at the BRD's 17 science centers and 81 field stations, 54 Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units in 40 states, and at 11 former Cooperative Park Study Units. Studies encompass fish, birds, mammals, and plants, as well as their ecosystems and the surrounding landscape. Biological Resources Division researchers use a variety of scientific tools in their endeavors to understand the causes of biological and ecological trends. Research results are used by managers to predict environmental changes and to help them take appropriate measures to manage resources effectively.
The BRD Geospatial Technology Program facilitates the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data and informat
Additional publication details
USGS Unnumbered Series
Geospatial Technology Applications and Infrastructure in the Biological Resources Division