EBAR Range Mapping


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 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’s “Canada terrestrial ecoshapes mosaic” for EBAR mapping.  Each ecoshape of an EBAR map contains accessible reference information documenting the decision on whether the species is known to be present, or not present, in a given ecoshape.

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

If you are aware of data sources for these species please contact us at:  EBAR-KBA@natureserve.ca, or complete this SURVEY.

Data Management

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., a mosaic of 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 (e.g., python scripts) are employed to facilitate and automate this process as much as possible.

Draft EBAR map for Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee (“automated” mapping phase).  The dots show where occurrence information in a specific ecoshape were documented. The next step is to have experts review and refine the map.

Expert Review

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 map-based tool will allow experts to engage in this process in an efficient and secure manner. Expert review will be critical to fill in data gaps of the “automated” EBAR maps, particularly for lesser known and rare species.

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.

Data Publishing

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. We do ask that any refinements (i.e., additional presence data, on the ground expertise) that would benefit the original EBAR map be made through the EBAR Reviewer online tool to ensure that EBAR maps made available publicly are based on the best available information.

Final NatureServe Canada EBAR map (after the expert review and refinement phase) developed for the COSEWIC status re-assessment of the Short-eared Owl in November 2019. Presence information for each ecoshape in the Canada terrestrial ecoshapes mosaic was documented for the following occurrence type: breeding, breeding irregular, year-round and wintering.
To learn more about NatureServe Canada's EBAR Mapping Project please contact us at:  EBAR-KBA@natureserve.ca