e-CBMP Newsletter
Spring 2015

Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program            Volume 9 Issue 1

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editorialFrom the Co-Chairs
Dear Friends,

"The price of light is less than the cost of darkness"- Arthur C. Nielsen


The importance of Arctic biodiversity data collection, management and quality control cannot be overstated. Countries and other organizations inside and outside the Arctic invest hundreds of millions of dollars on Arctic biodiversity monitoring to better understand change. There are hundreds of biodiversity-related monitoring programs currently contributing to these diverse efforts.


The CBMP is focusing on better coordinating these existing monitoring efforts and aggregating and integrating datasets to increase the value of the substantial investment in Arctic biodiversity monitoring. This issue of our newsletter focuses on our data collection efforts and key partnerships to date, focussing particularly on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS), CAFF's data management platform and the venue that will house results from CBMP data aggregation and collection efforts. The ABDS collects, shares and displays Arctic biodiversity information to enlightens users, highlight contributors and allow for increased understanding, and more informed and rapid decision-making.


We thank our colleagues for their contributions to this issue of the CBMP e-newsletter and for their continued efforts on data delivery.  Please enjoy the update of data-related work.


Best wishes for your upcoming field season,


John Payne and Tom Christensen, Co-Chairs
Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program


Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS): Status report and new records available


The Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS) is the data-management framework for information generated via CAFF and the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP).


The ABDS is an online, interoperable data management system that serves as a focal point and common platform for all CAFF programs and projects and dynamic source for up-to-date circumpolar Arctic biodiversity information and emerging trends.


Fifty-three entries from CAFF and CBMP activities and contain tabular data, spatial data and/or images pertaining to:

  • Arctic areas: including CAFF boundary, Arctic Marine Areas, Large Marine Ecosystems, Protected Areas, Areas of ecological and cultural significance, etc.
  • Species distributions and/or trends: including, eiders, polar bears, lichen, caribou, vascular plant, Arctic char, etc.
  • Species lists: including vascular plants.
  • Monitoring sites: sites identified by CBMP Freshwater and Terrestrial Steering Groups, etc.
  • Headline indicators: Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI) time series data on vertebrate species, protected areas, linguistic diversity etc.
  • Remote sensing: results from the Land Cover Change Index (see article below) 

An additional 440 records represent CBMP-relevant metadata harvested from the Polar Data Catalogue (PDC). The ABDS is building partnerships with key international partners such as the PDC, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Arctic Data Infrastructure (Arctic SDI) and the

Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to ensure that CAFF information flows into other global processes (see additional articles in this newsletter).


The CAFF data team is continuing to make existing data holdings available through the ABDS, including datasets collected as part of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, through the CBMP, ASTI and other projects.


The goal of the ABDS is to increase access to Arctic biodiversity data for the common good of scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders both inside and outside of the Arctic. It is intended to allow for discovery, archiving and access to data at various scales. Such a framework is essential to ensure effective, consistent, and long-term management of the data resulting from CAFF and partners activities.


The ABDS framework is built using the following open source solutions:

  • GeoServer: a Java-based server that allows users to view and edit geospatial data 
  • GeoNetwork: a catalogue application to manage spatially references resources
  • PostgreSQL: an open source object-relational database system
  • Joomla web interface: a content management system allowing for presentation of data

Various institutes from eight countries have currently downloaded data from the ABDS. They include:

  • government departments (US Geological Service, Natural Resources Canada, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Norwegian Polar Institute, etc.)
  • academic institutions (Sorbonne, University of Alaska, University of Toronto, Oregon State, etc.)
  • consultants and companies (Esri, Applied Science Associates)
  • NGOs (Wetlands International, Pew Charitable Trusts) 

Access the ABDS  or go straight to the ABDS GeoNetwork. For more information on usage please read the ABDS Data Policy.


The ABDS welcomes contributions from across the circumpolar Arctic. Contact our data team for more information.


Contact: K?ri Fannar L?russon (CAFF Secretariat) and H?ddi Helgason (CAFF Secretariat)




PDC2ABDS interoperability with Polar Data Catalogue: currently harvesting records


CAFF's Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS) is partnering with the Polar Data Catalogue (PDC) -- a publicly accessible archive of polar information -- to build interoperability between systems, avoid duplication of data storage and increase accessibility and visibility of Arctic biodiversity data.


Currently, the ABDS's GeoNetwork harvests 440 CBMP-relevant metadata records from the PDC. These metadata records have been gathered from across the Arctic by the CBMP Marine and Terrestrial Steering Groups, which are aggregating circumpolar information to better coordinate and harmonize monitoring across the Arctic. Work has begun on preparing metadata records from the Freshwater Steering Group to enter into the PDC. To increase the visibility of all data records in the ABDS, the PDC is also harvesting all non-CBMP metadata from the ABDS and will be integrating them into the PDC in the near term.


Access all CBMP-relevant metadata records from the PDC on the ABDS (click the "Polar data" button on the left hand side).


The PDC, launched in 2007, is operated by the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network (CCIN), which was formed in the mid-1990s as a data archive and online information site for the cryospheric research community in Canada. It has since expanded to provide relevant data and information to government policy makers and the public on topics such as weather and climate, sea ice and permafrost, Arctic wildlife and vegetation, social and health indicators for Inuit and northern communities, and public policy. The PDC receives guidance and direction for future development from the multi-sectoral Polar Data Management Committee, which is composed of data management experts from government, academic, and northern peoples' organizations.


ContactTom Barry (CAFF Secretariat) and Julie Friddell (Polar Data Catalogue/University of Waterloo)



GBIF2Global Biodiversity Information Facility cooperation with the ABDS


Collaboration between CAFF and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is moving to a practical stage, with exploration of how data on Arctic biodiversity can be efficiently exchanged between the two intergovernmental networks. 


Data managers at CAFF are installing data exchange software to test the compatibility of species occurrence data underlying the Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI) with the global data integration services offered by GBIF. The aim is to enable researchers and other GBIF users to have access to the rich data from CAFF providers that documents distribution of Arctic species over time, and thus improves knowledge of the region's biodiversity. 


At the same time, the two organizations are investigating how best to integrate Arctic data from natural history collections, research teams and observer networks shared by hundreds of GBIF data publishers into the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS), through web services freely available via GBIF. An important challenge in this collaboration will be to avoid duplication of data from institutions in Arctic nations that may already be contributing to both networks. 


CAFF and GBIF are working towards a formal partnership agreement that will establish sustainable workflows to keep this data exchange up to date, and ensure that governments and stakeholders get maximum benefit from the complementary activities of the two networks.


Contact: Tim Hirsch (GBIF) and Tom Barry (CAFF Secretariat)




Marine  data-gathering efforts underway: update form seabirds, mammals and sea ice biota


Photo: Bjorn Stefanson/shutterstock.com

Many seabird researchers are using Movebank to manage seabird tracking data. This online database, hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, allows us to manage, share, protect, analyze, and archive seabird movement data. CBird researchers are also managing seabird colony data through the Seabird Information Network (SIN), which will allow circumpolar information to be added, mapped, and shared by scientists and monitoring programs around the Arctic.


The marine mammal database, recently published in Conservation Biology, includes Arctic marine mammal population status by stock or subpopulation for each species, sea ice habitat loss, population information on ice-dependent species, including ice seals, beluga, narwhal, bowhead whale, walrus and polar bear. The database also contains conservation recommendations for the 21st century.


Taxonomic records have been compiled of sea ice biota, including a pan-Arctic species list for single-celled sea ice eukaryotes. A georeferenced sequencing database with near-pan-Arctic coverage is in progress for sea ice procaryotes and sea ice meiofauna. Regional databases are also in progress for Svalbard and the central Arctic.


See marine data available on the ABDS.

Contact: Marianne Olsen (MSG co-lead Norwegian Environment Agency)




freshwaterdataCBMP Freshwater Data Update


Sampling in the River Laxa, Iceland. Photo: Gudni Gudbergsson

The national Freshwater Expert Networks (FENs) of the CBMP Freshwater Steering Group (FSG) have recently completed the first two of six FSG projects that were designed to facilitate the completion of a circumpolar assessment of Arctic freshwaters. 


Project 1, which was completed in December 2014, involved the collection of national metadata summarizing existing paleolimnological, historical, and contemporary monitoring data. 


Project 2, completed in April 2015, was a summary and analysis of the metadata collected in Project 1, with assessment of spatial and temporal coverage of available data. 


The metadata (Project 1) and summary reports (Project 2) will form the base of information for the subsequent FSG projects and will be vital to the completion of a circumpolar assessment of biodiversity.


The FSG and CBMP data team are endeavouring to make this information available on the ABDS.


Contact: Joseph Culp (FSG co-lead, Environment Canada/University of New Brunswick, Willem Goedkoop (FSG co-lead, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Jen Lento (FSG, University of New Brunswick)





Terrestrial Steering Group and Expert Network representatives discuss data gathering efforts at annual meeting. Photo: Courtney Price, CAFF Secretariat

The CBMP's Terrestrial Steering Group has been working to identify and collect metadata regarding long-term Arctic terrestrial biodiversity monitoring initiatives. Over 190 new metadata records were recently made publicly available through the Polar Data Catalogue and ABDS. 


These new entries (and several existing records) have been tagged with the identifier "CBMP/CAFF - Terrestrial". You can now search and discover monitoring programs consistent with implementation of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan in the Polar Data Catalogue or ABDS by searching for "CBMP/CAFF - Terrestrial". New metadata contributions are welcome.

See all terrestrial data on the ABDS.


Contact: Mora Aronsson (TSG Chair, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Marlene Doyle (Environment Canada)



The Land Cover Change Index: exploring
 satellite data for use in biodiversity monitoring and assessment


Land Cover Type, accessible on ABDS

The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)'s CBMP is working with the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) on a Land Cover Change initiative to create a framework to harness remote sensing potential for use in Arctic biodiversity monitoring and assessment activities and to produce a series of satellite-based remote sensing products focussing on the circumpolar Arctic.


Satellite data is underutilized in the Arctic, but there is a desire among various disciplines to use remote sensing to support biodiversity assessments and monitoring. Remote sensing data also has value for site-specific and regional applications.


MODIS satellite products of relevance to Arctic processes are being converted to a more Arctic-friendly projection, facilitating a top-of-the-world analysis perspective. Satellite products are being developed will be organized by terrestrial, marine, coastal, and freshwater disciplines. Additional satellite resources such as Landsat and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images will be used to generate additional remote sensing products.


Time-series (2002-Present) products to date include:

Access all available products here


In addition, the  Arctic Spatial Data infrastructure (ASDI)'s GeoPortal is hosting this information in an interactive online map.


This is an ongoing effort that includes interactive workshops-such as the one that was convened during the Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, Norway December 2014-to produce a broader framework. A Land Cover Change Progress Report was delivered to the Arctic Council Ministers at their April meeting.


Contact: Robert Shuchman and Liza Jenkins (Michigan Tech Research Institute), John Payne (CBMP co-lead, North Slope Science Initiative) and Tom Barry (CAFF Secretariat)



CBMP data management team (K?ri Fannar L?russon and H?ddi Helgason) intend to represent CBMP data efforts at the second Polar Data Forum (PDF II), held October 27 - 29, 2015 in Waterloo, Canada. The PDF II will  provide a critically important venue for showcasing polar data initiatives, to learn from global partners and work collaboratively to continue developing an international vision and action plan. 

PDF II is shaped by the priority themes and key challenges in the domain of polar data management resulting from PDF I, held in Tokyo, Japan in 2013.  PDF II will further refine these themes and priorities and will accelerate progress by establishing clear actions to address the target issues, including meeting the needs of society and science through promotion of open data and effective data stewardship, establishing sharing and interoperability of data at a variety of levels, developing trusted data management systems, and ensuring long-term data preservation. The Forum will be held in conjunction with the scheduled annual meetings of the Arctic Data Committee (ADC) of the International Arctic Science Committee and Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (IASC/SAON) and the Standing Committee on Antarctic Data Management (SC-ADM) of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).  CAFF sits on the international data advisory committee for PDF II.

Contact: K?ri Fannar L?russon (CAFF Secretariat)
CBMP News and Updates




CAFF Delegation Visits Washington, D.C.


Marthe Haugan (Norway), Tom Barry (CAFF Secretariat), Reidar Hindrum (CAFF Chair, Norway), Carl Markon (CBMP Coastal co-lead), and Gilbert Castellanos (US) at the Department of the Interior, Washington D.C., April 2015. Photo: CAFF.

CAFF and CBMP representatives visited Washington D.C., just after the U.S. received the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The goal of the week was to align US Arctic Council Chairmanship priorities with some of the Norwegian priorities for CAFF. These include Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative, invasive species programs and monitoring within the CBMP.


Reidar Hindrum (CAFF Chair, Norway), Tom Barry (CAFF Executive Secretary), Marthe Haugan (CAFF Head of Delegation, Norway), Gilbert Castallenos (CAFF Head of Delegation, US), John Payne (CBMP co-Chair, US), Jason Taylor (Terrestrial CBMP representative, US), Carl Markon( Coastal CBMP co-lead, US), and Bob Rich (Executive Director, Arctic Research Consortium of the US) met with representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United Nations Environmental Program, National Invasive Species Council, World Wildlife Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, State of Alaska Governor's Office, and the Norwegian Embassy.  


Contact: Tom Barry (CAFF Executive Secretary), John Payne (CBMP Co-Chair, North Slope Science Initiative)



Marine  Expert Networks begin drafting State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report


Attendees of the April 2015 Marine Expert Networks writing workshop, Akureyri, Iceland. Photo: Courtney Price, CAFF.

Representatives from Marine Expert Networks met in Akureyri, Iceland from April 14 to 16 to begin drafting the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report.


Members of the sea ice biota, plankton, benthos, fishes, and marine mammals expert networks met in break out groups to discuss their data aggregation efforts to date, their respective chapters under the report and work flow for report completion.


The report is scheduled for release Spring 2017.


Contact: Marianne Olsen (Norwegian Environment Agency) and Vadim Mokievsky (P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Russian Academy of Sciences) 



Freshwater Steering Group meet to discuss work towards State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report

Freshwater Steering Group meets in Copenhagen, May 2015. Photo: Kari Fannar Larusson, CAFF Secretariat

The Freshwater Steering Group met in Copenhagen, Denmark, 18-20 May to review progress over the year including data gathering efforts, and progress on projects designed to prepare for a 2017 report on the State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity, scheduled for release in 2018 .


In addition, planning for an Inter-Freshwater Expert Networks workshop in October is underway. It will be the first workshop to bring together the dozens of experts involved in the freshwater national expert networks to jointly work on the coordination of Arctic freshwater monitoring. The key theme of the workshop will be to bring together data from the Arctic states in order to evaluate status and trends in Arctic freshwater ecosystems, which is a key step in the production of the State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report.


Contact: Joseph Culp (Environment Canada/University of New Brunswick), Willem Goedkoop (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and Jen Lento (University of New Brunswick)





Terrestrial Steering Group progress discussed at Ottawa meeting


Members of the February 2015 Terrestrial Steering Group meeting, Ottawa, Canada. Photo: Courtney Price, CAFF

Several Terrestrial Steering Group and Terrestrial Expert Networks members congregated in Ottawa, Canada from February 16-18, 2015 to continue the implementation of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan.


Each of the four Terrestrial Expert Networks - vegetation, invertebratesbirds, mammals - provided updates on activities.


Key accomplishments include:

The  Terrestrial Expert Networks continued developing work plans and priorities, and discussed the structure and timeline of the State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Report, scheduled for release in Spring 2018.


Additionally, Mora Aronsson, of Sweden, was announced as the incoming chair of the Terrestrial Steering Group.


Contact: Mora Aronsson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)




Coastal Background Paper to be released this fall


Coastal wetlands. Photo: USG

The CBMP's Coastal Expert Monitoring Group (CEMG)'s Background Paper has been submitted for CAFF Board approval and will be ready for a fall distribution. 


This document describes the key points for the future development of the Arctic Coastal Biodiversity Monitoring Plan and its implementation, including:

  • a definition of the coastal ecosystem boundary and considerations for
  • an overall monitoring approach and methods;
  • inclusion of a traditional knowledge (TK) and community based approach to monitoring;
  • engagement of monitoring data users, e.g., industry, communities, governments, academics
  • scale;
  • management needs and monitoring program sustainability; and
  • use of existing work and recommendations.

In addition to the Background Paper, the CEMG is currently planning on a coastal expert meeting to be held in North America in fall 2016.


Contact: Carl Markon (US Geological Survey) and Donald McLennan (Canadian High Arctic Research Station)


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