Observation Data Mapping and Management Tool


Kestrel is an online tool for biologists, researchers, and natural resource managers to map and manage observational data. Developed in collaboration with Parks Canada and with support from the National Science Foundation, Kestrel promotes greater standardization among observational data sets while allowing users to meet specific project needs.



Observational data of plants, animals, and natural communities are fundamental for scientific inventory and monitoring, conservation planning, habitat management, invasive-species assessments, predictive distribution modeling, and more. The structure of these data can vary greatly depending on the source and intended use, making it difficult to gain a comprehensive picture of biodiversity within an area. Threats like habitat loss and climate change increase the urgency to combine and share these data more widely.

Kestrel supports diverse observational data formats, all sharing a set of core attributes that minimally define an observation: what was seen, when, where, and by whom. Through its upload tool, users can quickly import and share data, and they can also protect sensitive data by restricting access levels by user, organization, or project.


Features & Benefits

Kestrel provides a secure, hosted environment for observational data management and sharing. It accomodates a wide variety of data formats, each defined by an observation data template.

Features include:

  • ArcGIS Server-based mapping platform.
  • Multi-lingual interface supports English, French and Spanish speaking users.
  • Integration with NatureServe taxonomy web services for consistent species identification and naming across jurisdictions.
  • Tools for importing and exporting observation data collections in spatial and tabular formats.
  • Tools for creating and sharing customized observation data templates.

Data in Kestrel is organized according to user-defined data templates created and maintained through NatureServe’s online Template Library. Users can define the structure of the observation data they wish to collect and manage in Kestrel by modifying one of the existing templates published in the Library, or by constructing a new template from scratch.