NatureServe Canada's Ecosystem-based automated range maps (EBAR) initiative will develop trusted and publicly accessible range maps for priority species. The objectives of the project are to develop national range maps that:
1) incorporate the best available species occurrence information
2) can be reviewed and refined by species experts in an ongoing and efficient manner
3) provide access to reference information of the underlying occurrence data
4) are publicly available at no charge
5) are provided in an electronic format that permits efficient customization and integration by biodiversity experts, organizations and decision-makers
EBAR maps combine biodiversity data with expert knowledge to populate ecoshapes (which are ecoregions, ecodistricts or similar ecological land classifications) with species presence information. Each ecoshape is associated with a set of references for the species information providing transparency regarding the underlying data.
NatureServe Canada EBAR maps will support priority programs such as environmental impact assessments, status assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), Species At Risk Act recovery action plans, the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and provincial and territorial Species at Risk programs and legislation.
NatureServe Canada EBAR Range Mapping Workflow
We have provided summary information below. Please visit this page in coming weeks for a more detailed description of EBAR processes and products and how you can help support EBAR mapping of priority species.
Species "Data Mining”
Accurate range maps require the best available species data. EBAR maps will incorporate species occurrence information from Conservation Data Centres, provincial, territorial and federal governments, citizen science platforms and digital biodiversity data resources (e.g., GBIF, iNaturalist), academia, non-governmental organizations, industry, species experts and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).
We are currently focused on data mining and EBAR mapping for species that are priorities for the Canada Key Biodiversity Areas program (i.e., KBA Trigger Species). To access this list please click HERE.
Data will be stored on a secure Canadian cloud-based Microsoft Azure server. An ArcGIS Enterprise Server will manage access to the EBAR database, facilitate data analysis using a variety of tools, and provide the foundation for the EBAR Reviewer online tool. The data will be archived to support the project decisions and analyses.
“Automated” Range Map Generation
The next step in EBAR project workflow is to populate the ecoshapes mosaic (i.e., ecoregions, ecodistricts or similar ecological land classifications) with species presence information (e.g., present, presence expected, historical) using the mined data. Repeatable GIS-based routines (python scripts) are employed to facilitate and automate this process as much as possible.
Expert review will be critical to fill in data gaps of the “automated” EBAR maps, particularly for lesser known and rare species. Scientific, traditional and other expert knowledge holders are being recruited to review the “automatically generated” EBAR maps during winter 2020 and provide suggestions for improving them using additional data and/or their on-the-ground knowledge. This input will be used to evaluate and improve the maps. The EBAR Reviewer online app allows experts to engage in this process in an efficient and secure manner.
There are two EBAR Reviewer training videos that describe key functions of the app and instructions for conducting reviews. More detailed information can be accessed in the EBAR Reviewer training manual that is provided to expert reviewers.
If you are interested in participating please contact us at: EBAR-KBA@natureserve.ca, or complete this SURVEY to provide information on other data sources for the priority species and your availability for expert review of these maps.
NatureServe Canada will make EBAR maps publicly available online at no cost. We are currently focused on developing EBAR maps for the Environment and Climate Change Canada funded Canada Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) project and for upcoming COSEWIC status assessments and reassessments. Many of these programs will want to customize the EBAR maps to meet their program’s needs. NatureServe Canada encourages this and will develop EBAR maps in electronic formats that facilitate customization and integration into standard GIS tools. If there is information (i.e., additional presence data, on the ground expertise) that could improve the EBAR map please contact us to ensure the best available information is being incorporated.
To learn more about NatureServe Canada's EBAR Mapping Project please contact us at: EBAR-KBA@natureserve.ca