Vista User's Manual


The Vista user's manual installs automatically as part of the Vista software package. Or, scroll below to learn about and download the manual's seven sections. 

Click here to download the Vista manual in its entirety. (Please note that this is 7MB PDF that may take several minutes to download.)

The manual's content is also fully integrated into the Vista software. Updates are made for new releases and posted here when available. The date of the most recent update is indicated in parentheses after each section. The sections and subsections highlighted in bold below indicate the minimum required reading as you develop your Vista project.

One: Preface, Acknowledgements, Introduction, Requirements

(updated October 13, 2011)

  • Background information on NatureServe and NatureServe Vista.
  • An important overview of the planning process behind Vista and its functionality within that process.
  • Information about the software and hardware needed to install and run Vista.

Two: Getting Started

(updated October 13, 2011)

  • Installation guide: how to set up Vista on your computer.
  • Guidelines for setting up your Vista project in terms of project area extent, number of elements, and spatial resolution.
  • The Common Project Requirements subsection gives recommendations on data inputs and selecting the right tools and personnel for a Vista project.
  • Under the Project Types sub-section, you'll find example applications where Vista can provide decision support and spatial analyses.
  • Background information on NatureServe and NatureServe Vista.
  • Getting started with Vista: a hands-on exercise using the sample dataset to produce basic results and walk novice users through some basic Vista functions.

Three: Element Database, Data for Conservation Value Analysis, Data for Scenario Evaluations

(updated October 13, 2011)

  • Details about the data requirements for the Element database, Conservation Value Analyses and Scenario Evaluations.

Four: Analytical Tools, Conservation Value Analyses, Landscape Conditioning Modeling, Scenario Evaluations

(updated October 13, 2011)

  • The subsections on Analytical tools, Conservation Value Analyses, Landscape Conditioning Modeling, Scenario Evaluations provide more in-depth information about Vista's functions and how they can be used to create, refine, model, and evaluate data.
  • Landscape Condition Modeling will guide users through Vista's landscape condition modeler function as well as the interoperation with NOAA's Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool (N-SPECT).

Five: Site Explorer and Conservation Solutions generation

(updated October 13, 2011)

  • The Site Explorer sub-section offers the user the ability to select sites within a conservation value summary or a scenario evaluation. For scenario evaluations, Site Explorer provide a wealth of attributes generated about elements and land use at the site and compare it to the project area. Use site explorer to specify alternative land uses and implementation mechanisms to create site mitigations or new alternative scenarios.
  • The sub-section on conservation solutions guides users through Vista's interface with conservation site optimization tools Marxan and SPOT.

Six: Additional Topics, Project Management Functions, Windows in NatureServe Vista, Reports from NatureServe Vista, Limitations of NatureServe Vista

(updated October 13, 2011)

  • The first two sub-sections (Additional topics and Project management functions) contain information about determining the appropriate set-up of the snap raster and grid cell size. Metadata generation from Vista is also covered here.
  • Windows in NatureServe Vista presents many of the GUI windows that appear in Vista. This section includes definitions for the button functions in each window.
  • The Reports from NatureServe Vista sub-section explains how Vista is capable of generating reports at many steps that provide tabular and graphical information on the results of Vista's inputs and outputs.
  • Limitations of NatureServe Vista: This sub-section provides important guidelines regarding the selection of elements, appropriate use of scale, use of viability/integrity values and conservation value summaries.

Seven: Appendices

(updated October 13, 2011)

Six appendices cover the following topics:

  1. NatureServe Vista Inputs and Outputs: a comprehensive guide that identifies the inputs that Vista needs in order to produce the described outputs.
  2. NatureServe Conservation Status Definitions
  3. Scale-of-Occurrence Classes for Terrestrial Ecological Elements
  4. Sources of Element Distribution Data
  5. Element Occurrence Ranks
  6. NatureServe Vista Default IUCN-CMP Land Use Categories (a complete bibliography for the entire user manual is included with this section)