BWB ¡Map-Mapa-Carte! Contest

NatureServe invites BWB 2014 participants, Network Members and NatureServe staff to enter our 1st annual BWB MAP-MAPA-CARTE contest!

The contest theme is (as broad as) our mission: a network connecting science with conservation. Your map should tell a story about some facet of your conservation work. Maps will be evaluated on how best they convey complex conservation/scientific information in a simple, intuitive, visually compelling format.

Submissions should include: a digital map (format: PNG; resolution: 150-300 dpi; max.filesize: 100MB, max.pagesize: 36x48 inches), map title, author name(s), contact information, URL link (if applicable) and a brief abstract.

Please send your information and attached map via email to  If your map is too big to be attached to an email, then we can send you informaiton on how to upload it to our FileSharing site. You do not have to be attending the BWB 2014 conference in order to submit map - the contest is open to all network members, NatureServe staff and BWB 2014 participants.

We welcome submissions in any language. If possible please include an english translation of key information (title, abtract, etc.) and we will post this summary information in both languages.

To view submissions - see the MAP-MAPA-CARTE Gallery below.

Maps will be digitally displayed, and winners announced, at the BWB conference in New Orleans.

1st Prize: Otterbox full-sized tablet case, mini tablet case and phone case

2nd Prize: Otterbox full-sized tablet case

3rd Prize: Otterbox phone case

Otterbox will work with winners to provide them with otterbox products for their make/model of tablet/phone. Thank you Otterbox!!! We will mail prizes to contest winners who are not attending the BWB 2014 conference.

The deadline for submissions has been extended to: Friday, March 28, 2014.

For more information email:


MAP-MAPA-CARTE GALLERY (last updated March 27, 2014)

Map Title: Aspect analysis of Aletes macdougalii ssp. breviradiatus in Mesa Verde National Park

Author: Michelle Fink, Landscape Ecologist, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, 1475 Campus Mail, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1475,

Abstract: Aletes macdougalii ssp. breviradiatus, or Mesa Verde aletes, is a perennial forb endemic to the four-corners area of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. It has a global rank of T2 and is considered critically imperiled in Colorado, with only 4 mapped occurrences all within Mesa Verde National Park, where it is typically found in crevices along canyon walls.

Colorado Natural Heritage Program ecologist Renée Rondeau and botanist Peggy Lyon conducted surveys for A. m. breviradiatus in 2013, using GPS units to track where they looked. The researchers began to notice that they were more likely to find the plant on steep west-facing slopes. The GPS locations of where the plant was found and not found were analyzed against 10 m resolution aspect and slope.

Mesa Verde as a whole contains more southeast and east facing slopes than north and west. Plotting the aspect of all waypoints shows that areas searched covered all aspects, but A. m. breviradiatus was primarily found on west, and most commonly on southwest, facing slopes. The plant also tends to be found on steeper slopes (mean 28° found vs. mean 11° not found).

The geology of Mesa Verde results in more ground water seeping out on west-facing slopes than any other aspect, creating the west-facing alcoves in which nearly all of the Park's ancient cliff dwellings are found. A. m. breviradiatus is often found close to cliff dwellings, but it is not a plant that the Ancestral Puebloans would have used, leading us to conclude that the plant and the cliff dwellings are in the same locations for the same reason; water. Up until this analysis, this plant was not seen as seep dependent and its habitat is described in the literature as very dry. Park staff had considered this plant secure and not of management concern, but now in light of our analysis, they now use this story as an example of how climate change could impact species that had been thought secure.




Map Title: Bruce A. Bennett Plant Collections, 1995-2013 (Yukon Territory, North America and World)

Author: Bruce Bennett, coordinator, Yukon Conservation Data Centre, Environment Yukon V5N, 10 Burns Road Y1A 4Y9,

Abstract: Bruce A. Bennet plant collections, 1995-2013, are used around the world to assess plant distribution


Map Title: Redwoods sensitivity to natural climatic variability

Authors: Miguel Fernandez*, Dawson Lab, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA,; Healy H. Hamilton, NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Drive, 7th Floor Arlington, VA, 22203, US,; and Lara M. Kueppers, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Sciences Division, 1 Cyclotron Rd. MS 74-120, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA,

Abstract: Studies that model the effect of climate change on coastal ecosystems that are strongly influenced by local ocean-atmosphere interactions, often use scenarios from downscaled Global Climate Model outputs (GCMs). The scale of these simulations is generally too coarse to capture fine scale climate variation, such as the sharp coastal energy/moisture gradients associated with wind-driven upwelling of cold water. Coastal upwelling may limit future increases in coastal temperatures, reducing GCMs’ ability to provide accurate scenarios of future climate in coastal ecosystems. Taking advantage of naturally occurring variability in the high-resolution historic climatic record, we developed multiple scenarios of California climate that maintain coherent relationships between regional climate and coastal upwelling. We then compared these scenarios against coarse resolution GCM projections at a regional scale to evaluate their temporal equivalency. We used these historically based scenarios to estimate potential suitable habitat for coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) under “normal” combinations of temperature and precipitation, and under anomalous combinations representative of potential future climates. We found that our warmer (with historically normal precipitation) scenario (B) is equivalent to climate projected for California by 2020-2030, and that under these conditions, climatically suitable habitat for coast redwood significantly contracts at the southern end of its current range.




Map Title: Global Grasslands

Authors: Adam Dixon, Landscape Analyst, World Wildlife Fund - US, 1250 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037-1193,; Don Faber-Langendoen, Senior Research Ecologist, NatureServe, 3467 Amber Road Syracuse, NY 13215, don_; and Carmen Josse, Senior Regional Ecologist. Latin America and Caribbean. NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr. 7th Floor, Arlington, VA, 22203,

Abstract: National and international policy frameworks – such as the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive – increasingly seek to conserve and reference ‘highly biodiverse grasslands’. However, to date, there is no systematic global characterization and distribution map for grassland types. We propose a systematic definition of grassland that can be applied globally, then integrate the grassland types identified in the International Vegetation Classification (IVC) – a global classification that characterizes all vegetation types, with the Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World (TEOW) – a spatial regionalization of the earth’s terrestrial biodiversity. This framework is a first step to establishing a comprehensive spatial characterization of each of the world’s grassland types. We created a global biogeographical representation of earth’s grassland types and their distribution. We mapped forty-nine taxonomically distinct grassland divisions. Thirteen additional grassland divisions are recognized, which were not able be mapped with our approach due to lack of TEOW representation and the fine scale distribution of these grassland types. The framework provided by our geographic mapping effort provides a systematic overview of grasslands, and sets the stage for more detailed classification and mapping at finer scales. Each regional grassland type can be characterized in terms of its range of biodiversity, thereby assisting in definitions of “highly biodiverse grasslands” and other policy initiatives.




Map Title: Conservation Analysis of the Jacoby Creek Greenway, Northampton County, Pennsylvania

Authors: Christopher Tracey, Conservation Planning Coordinator, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, 800 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222,; David Yeany, Conservation Planner, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, 800 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222,

Abstract:  The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program provides active support for county-led greenway planning efforts in the state.  We recently completed a project to assess the Lehigh Valley Greenways Plan and provide biodiversity driven conservation strategies for nine greenway corridors.  Greenways in this region support a number of tracked species as well as the Federally Threatened bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii). The series of maps were used to map out important conservation features and threats for the Jacoby Creek Greenway, one of nine focal greenways that we concentrated on for this project.

We used four categories of assessment to determine a conservation strategy for the Jacoby Creek Greenway including Conservation Value, Protection Status, Current Management, and Development Pressure. Spatial data produced by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) were used to score individual parcels within ArcGIS and set conservation priorities. We also identified conservation recommendations based on biodiversity and natural resource needs and determined which conservation strategies were most appropriate for corresponding greenway priority parcels. Parcels within the Jacoby Creek Greenway were prioritized for conservation action (via traditional land protection mechanisms as well as ordinance-based controls) and integrated into a Greenway Implementation Matrix.  This process was repeated for eight additional greenway corridors in the Lehigh Valley.

This plan serves as a road map for targeting land parcels within greenways for the protection and preservation of the Lehigh Valley’s rich natural heritage. Through the integration of biodiversity targets as well as current local planning efforts and offers a conceptual framework that can be applied and adapted as new natural resource and biodiversity information is developed.



Map Title: Owl Occurrences: Birds Hill Provincial Park Nocturnal Owl Survey

Author: Colin Murray, Project Biologist and Geomatics, Manitoba Conservation Data Centre, Wildlife Branch, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3J3W3,

Abstract:: The Manitoba Nocturnal Owl Survey began in 1991 to monitor owl populations on a provincial wide scale. Since then, hundreds of volunteers (citizen scientists) have given their time to the annual nightly surveys and amassed many thousands of owl observations. This map shows owl species and abundance in and around Birds Hill Provincial Park detected during these surveys. For more information about the Manitoba Nocturnal Owl survey visit:



Map Title: Using Predicted Mussel Distributions to Inform Conservation Priorities

Author: Christopher Tracey, Conservation Planning Coordinator, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, 800 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222,; Mary Walsh, Aquatic Ecologist, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, 800 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222,

Abstract:  PNHP recently completed a species distribution modeling project for ten species of freshwater mussel in the Susquehanna Basin.  Field survey data was compiled from the basin (the New York NHP and Maryland NHP provided data for areas outside Pennsylvania) and catchment-scale MaxEnt-based models were developed using 65 environmental variables.  The nine maps presented on the left side of the map show the raw results of the models along with known occurrences. To translate this raw data into a useable conservation product, we developed a map of “predicted co-occurrences” for the nine mussel species considered native to the basin, by selecting a threshold indicating probable species presence and absence. 6,136 of the 29,499 catchments had two or more overlapping predicted occurrences.  This map highlights potential important areas of the basin for conservation action including stream restoration, AMD remediation and reestablishment of aquatic connectivity.



Map Title: BioMap2:  Conserving the Biodiversity of Massachusetts in a Changing World

Author(s): Henry Woolsey, former Program Manager for the MA Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Abstr; Andy Finton, Director of Science and Conservation, The Nature Conservancy Massachusetts, 99 Bedford Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111,; James DeNormandie, GIS Specialist/Regional Conservation Planner, LandVest, Ten Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109,; Sarah Haggerty, MNHESP Information Manager, 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230, West Boylston, MA 01583,

Abstract: BioMap2 is designed to guide strategic biodiversity conservation in Massachusetts over the next decade, by focusing land protection and stewardship on the areas that are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems. BioMap2 is also designed to include the habitats and species of conservation concern identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan.

To capture all the elements of biodiversity, BioMap2 approaches the conservation of Massachusetts’ biological resources at multiple scales. Thus, BioMap2 combines hundreds of individual pieces of geospatial data about the state’s species, ecosystems, and landscapes.  These elements of biodiversity fall into one of two complementary categories, Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape (CNL)Core Habitat identifies key areas to ensure the long-term persistence of species of conservation concern, exemplary natural communities, and intact ecosystems across the Commonwealth. Critical Natural Landscape identifies larger landscape areas that are better able to support ecological processes, disturbances, and wide-ranging species.  Core Habitat and CNL, as well as the individual elements of biodiversity that make them up, can be viewed using the BioMap2 Interactive MapBioMap2 Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape overlap in many locations. Together, Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape identify 2.1 million acres that are key to the protection of our state's biodiversity.

Additionally, the BioMap2 Town Reports were developed to provide local biodiversity information to assist in specific conservation efforts at the town or regional level. These Town Reports include descriptions of the important species, natural communities, and coarse filter elements of BioMap2 that can be found within a specific town and its surrounding area.

More information on BioMap2 is available at



Map Title: Measuring the Conservation Status of Virginia’s Conservation Sites

Author: David Boyd, Conservation Lands GIS Planner, Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation – Division of Natural Heritage, 600 East Main Street, Richmond, VA, 23219,

Abstract: The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage continually measures the conservation status of Conservation Sites in Virginia using a repeatable analysis based on three key datasets. The Conservation Sites dataset delineates the best determination of the land and water area occupied by one or more Natural Heritage Resources (i.e. rare plant and animal species populations, and exemplary natural communities), plus the area required to support their long-term survival (~2000 sites in Virginia).  Another key dataset is Element Occurrences (~8,600), and specifically Procedural Features, which represent the exact locations of Natural Heritage Resources.  Lastly, the Conservation Lands Database includes all public and privately managed lands in Virginia at a parcel level (~10,350 tracts).  Each tract is attributed with a score to indicate Legal Protection Status (LPS), or how permanently a managed tract is conserved, ranging from 1: – Permanent Protection to 5: – No Protection.  Lands are also scored for Biodiversity Management Intent (BMI), or the degree to which management actions promote biodiversity conservation.  The BMI score ranges from 1: – Specifically Managed for the Protection of Plant and Animal Communities to 5: - No Designation or Management for Conservation of Natural Conditions.  In this analysis, we focus only on permanently conserved Lands (e.g. LPS=1) where biodiversity is managed for limited to no impacts on biodiversity (BMI=1 or 2), to assess the protection of the Conservation Sites on those lands.  Mapped outputs provide a statewide snapshot of conservation status, which is used in agency performance measures and conservation planning at VA Natural Heritage.




Map Title: Conservation Status Assessment Mapping: A consistent method for rapidly assessing the conservation status and survey needs for large numbers of aquatic species

Authors: Catherine Reuter, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803,; Brett Albanese, Georgia DNR, WRD, Nongame Conservation Section, 2065 US Hwy 278 SE, Social Circle, GA,; Greg Krakow, Georgia DNR, WRD, Nongame Conservation Section, 2065 US Hwy 278 SE, Social Circle, GA,; Chris Canalos, Georgia DNR, WRD, Nongame Conservation Section, 2065 US Hwy 278 SE, Social Circle, GA,; Deborah Weiler, Georgia DNR, WRD, Nongame Conservation Section, 2065 US Hwy 278 SE, Social Circle, GA,

Abstract: Conservation Status Assessment Maps are a way to efficiently assess and compare the conservation status of large numbers of species. They were originally developed for rare aquatic species, but are useful for many kinds of organisms.  We have used these maps to support the assessment of species for our State Wildlife Action Plan. We are also providing the maps to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to support the assessment of species that are candidates or are petitioned for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

These maps are suitable for a coarse-level assessment of species status. More detailed information (e.g., population or occupancy monitoring) is available for some species and should also be utilized for status assessments. However, a key advantage of our approach is that it provides a consistent framework for assessing conservation status using data that is available for the vast majority of species.

Conservation Status Assessment Maps are generated using species occurrence data. A simple GIS algorithm takes this basic data, scales it up to a management unit (e.g. a watershed), and categorizes the management unit based on the date of the most recent occurrence. The resulting map is useful for identifying range size, survey needs, and high priority areas for conservation.  In addition, the number of management units historically and recently occupied provides an index of the species current status that can be compared across taxa. Finally, explicit definition of the management unit allows the use of supplemental data to support status assessments. For example, the number of surveys carried out within the management unit helps determine if older occurrences reflect sampling effort or true population declines.

For more information visit




Map Title: NatureServe Rarity-Weighted Richness (RWR) Model of Critically Imperiled and Imperiled (G1 or G2) Species in the United States, 2013.

Author(s): Lynn Kutner, Conservation Data Analyst, NatureServe, Boulder, Colorado,; Jon Hak, GIS Analyst, NatureServe, Boulder, Colorado,

Abstract: The continuous surface model representation of Rarity-Weighted Richness (RWR) of critically imperiled (G1) and imperiled (G2) species conducted by NatureServe provides a picture of areas that represent concentrations of limited-range species and highlights locations with species composition different from adjacent areas. This approach helps address biases that occur in simple count-based analyses because widely distributed species, found in many different locations, have a disproportionate impact in creating areas of high diversity, with clusters of high-diversity areas that represent the same set of species. By combining overall species richness and the relative rarity (based on restricted distributions) of the species, this analysis points to locations that are essentially irreplaceable, and which present conservation opportunities that are found in very few other places. Conservation actions in areas identified as irreplaceable can be expected to have a more measurable impact on the long term well-being of a species, than those in an area that is one of many such areas.  The RWR model can assist resource managers and planners by pointing to the places on the landscape that not only are rich in vulnerable species, but also offer an opportunity for a clear conservation impact on these species.



Map Title: Improving Project Review with Species Distribution Models

Author: Danielle Kulas, GIS and Database Specialist, Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation – Division of Natural Heritage, 600 East Main Street, Richmond, VA, 23219,

Abstract: The Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage Program is working with state and federal partners to develop a more consistent approach for screening proposed projects for potential environmental impacts, through the use of Species Distribution Modeling.  For site-specific review in Virginia the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has traditionally used county-level species presence/absence data.  If a project is proposed in a county where a threatened or endangered (T&E) species has been observed, then consultation begins, and a field survey may be required.  At the state level,  VA Natural Heritage has used buffered Element Occurrence (EO) data for pre-screening.  When a project footprint is two miles or less from an EO, a Natural Heritage Biologist reviews the project for potential impacts, to determine if a field survey and full review may be required.   These two approaches, based on different datasets for screening, often result in a client receiving inconsistent requests for survey from state and federal agencies.   Now both agencies are beginning to use the same screening tools to trigger consultation.  Inductive Species Distribution Models (SDM) are developed at VA Natural Heritage based on GIS and statistical analysis of the unique relationships between species locations and various habitat characteristics.   Known locations of a species (Element Occurrence data) are correlated with values for more than 50 environmental variables (e.g. elevation, slope, precipitation) to train each model to predict where suitable habitat occurs.  Modeling is conducted with the Random Forests classifier in the R statistical software environment.  Geospatial outputs and maps are developed in ArcGIS.  Map outputs are used in USFWS and VA Natural Heritage online environmental review tools: IPaC (Information Planning and Conservation System) and NHDE (Natural Heritage Data Explorer).  Now, when clients use either of these two web-based systems, projects intersecting SDM outputs for a given species result in consistent reports on the presence/absence of suitable habitat, and whether or not consultation is needed.  Virginia DCR-Natural Heritage is currently building a library of SDM for all T&E species in Virginia.




Nombre del mapa\Map Title: Mapa de riqueza de especies endémicas de las selvas Maya Zoque y Olmeca \ Map of endemic species richness for the Maya Zoque and Olmeca Forests

Autor/Author: Gerardo García Contreras, Coordinador del Centro Pronatura de Información para la Conservación, Pronatura Península de Yucatán A. C.,

Resumen: El plan Ecorregional es un proyecto promovido por la Alianza para la conservación de las Selvas Maya, Zoque y Olmeca, que busca determinar los sitios prioritarios y las estrategias de conservación necesarios para asegurar la conservación de la biodiversidad de esta zona a largo plazo. Iniciativa trinacional conformada por diversas instituciones de México, Guatemala, Belice e internacionales.

El proyecto contempla, la compilación, edición y generación de bases de datos geográficas digitales; la integración de listados y bases de datos de registros de especies; el diseño de una Red de áreas de Conservación (RAC´s), la definición de la secuencia de intervención en sitios de acción; la formulación de estrategias a nivel ecorregional y la integración de alianzas institucionales que aseguren su implementación.

Con la finalidad de identificar las RAC´s elaboraron mapas de distribución potencial de la región, con la sobreposición de  estos mapas se identificaron los sitios con alto valor ecológico a los cuales deberían aplicarse estrategias de conservación y/o restauración.

En el caso particular del mapa, los rangos indican de riqueza de especies endémicas por grupo taxonómico por unidad de análisis (hexágonos de 1,000 has).  señalando así los sitios con mayor riqueza que se localizan dentro de las RAC´s.

Abstract: The Ecoregional plan is a project sponsored by the Alliance for the Conservation of Maya, Zoque and Olmeca Forests that seeks to identify priority sites and conservation strategies to ensure the conservation of biodiversity in the long term on these sites. The Plan is a trilateral initiative by various institutions in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, including international organizations.

The project includes the following components: the compilation, editing, and generation of digital geographic databases; the integration of databases of species records; the design of a Network of Conservation Areas (RAC 's); the definition of the intervention sequence on the sites; the formulation of strategies at the ecoregional level; and the integration of institutional partnerships to ensure its implementation.

In order to identify the Network of Conservation Areas, potential distribution maps were developed for the region and were overlaid with high ecological value maps to identify the strategies for conservation and / or restoration that should be applied.

In the particular case of the map, the ranges indicate endemic species richness by taxonomic group unit of analysis (hexagons 1,000 ha); thus, pointing richest sites that are located within the Network of Conservation Areas.