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South Florida Information Access

Project Proposal for 2001



Project Chief: G. Ronnie Best, Ph.D., PWS, Branch Chief and Supervisory Ecologist, Restoration Ecology Branch
E-mail: ronnie_best@usgs.gov
Phone: 305/553-0338
Fax: 305/348-4096
Mail address:
USGS Biological Resources Division
c/o 15631 SW 48 Street, Miami, FL 33185

Project Chief: Gail Clement
E-mail: gail_clement@usgs.gov
Phone: 305/348-2576
Fax: 305/348-6883
Mail address:
OE Building, Room 148, Miami, FL 33199

Project title: Development of a Digital Bio/Geo-library for the South Florida Ecosystem


To enable all stakeholders of the south Florida community to use sound science as a basis for informed planning decisions and resolution/prevention of resource-management problems (USGS Place-Based Studies Program, "Program Priorities", 1999), efforts to synthesize, manage and disseminate high-quality scientific information about the greater Everglades ecosystem have gained increasing support and urgency. The proposed information systems project addresses the need for timely, high-quality and relevant information through the development of a biologically- and geographically-referenced digital library for the South Florida ecosystem. This digital library focuses on textual and multimedia scientific information concerned with the biotic resources of the south Florida ecosystem, and the environmental factors affecting their survival or eradication.The digital services of the system include tools for searching, evaluation, visualization and acquisition of needed information resources from any Internet-connected computer. In combination, the collections and services of this bio/geo-digital library provide a comprehensive and coherent information system that facilitates the exchange, analysis and use of high-quality information resources across the diverse agencies, disciplines, and communities concerned with Everglades research, restoration and resource management.

Project design combines advanced information management technologies, national/international standards and best practices, and the information technology expertise of BRD’s Florida Caribbean Science Center and the Center for Biological Informatics. The resulting bio/geo-digital library will provide a coherent, widely available, and enduring online repository that documents the biological knowledge and tools created through USGS-related scientific studies in south Florida. It will also complement and interoperate with other federal agency information systems such as the South Florida Information Access (SOFIA) (http://sofia.usgs.gov/), developed and sponsored by the USGS South Florida Ecosystem Program; the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Clearinghouse (http://www.nbii.gov/index.html) maintained by the USGS Biological Resources Division; and the National Digital Library (http://memory.loc.gov) maintained by the Library of Congress. The proposed digital library is also designed to work together with leading state-sponsored initiatives such as "Everglades Online" (http://everglades.fiu.edu/eol/), "Linking Florida’s Natural Heritage" (http://susdl.fcla.edu/lfnh/), and the Florida Data Directory (http://als.dms.state.fl.us/~fdd/). In this way, the proposed project contributes a significant biological component to the information services of USGS’s South Florida Ecosystem Program, while also advancing large-scale biological information initiatives at the state and national levels.

Specific technical goals over the life of the 30-month project follow. These objectives and the timeline have been revised during FY2000 to accommodate the actual amount and timing of Place-based funds received; and the availability of funds for related work provided by the Department of Interior's Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative (CESI). Additionally, project objectives have been modified to reflect shifting priorities of the South Florida Ecosystem Project in response to client needs (e.g., the need to demonstrate the GEODE to key clients, such as the Adaptive Assessment Team (Roy Sonenshein, personal communication, September 2000).


Task 1. Design and implement an online information management with capabilities to search for, catalog, archive, and retrieve biological information products, including NBII metadata records, "full-text" documents, and multimedia files.
Project months: 1-30
FY2000 Accomplishments:

Conducted extensive evaluations of available digital library and document management systems, most notably the CUADRA STAR system current in use by BRD (BRD libraries and the BRD Science Information System); and the DOMINO.DOC document management system under review by the USGS Lotus Implementation Team. Concluded that the DOMINO system provides optimal capabilities for system, but requires modest modificaiton and customization. Contracted with Domino consultants to begin process of designing system architecture. Upgrade server to meet storage, memory and other performance requirements for the digital library. Acquired and installed software necessary to develop NBII metadata server for the south Florida ecosystem.

FY2001 Goals:

Complete design of system architecture using DOMINO components, eXtended Markup Language (XML), and Hytertext Markup Language (HTML); develop prototype comprising digital object server, retrieval engine, and user interface; post design documentation and database schema to SOFIA web site. In consultation with NBII metadata staff from the BRD Center for Biological Informatics, customize interface of NBII metadata server to enable browsing and searching by themes and other criteria needed for South Florida Ecosystem users.

Task 2. Convert/develop digital collection, NBII metadata, and load into database.
Project months: 8-30
FY2000 Accomplishments:

Conducted evaluations of NBII metadata creation tools including BRD's Metamaker and third-party tools such as Spatial Metadata Management System from RTSe . Conducted extensive consultations with NBII Metadata specialists at the BRD Center for Biological Informatics regarding current status and future directions for biotic metadata tools. Acquired three copies of SIMS and distributed to members of project team, including SOFIA project chief. Developed comprehensive bibliography of publications and other information products created through the PBS South Florida Ecosystem program. Created and loaded 87 metadata records for the South Florida Ecosystem program in Everglades Online database on the Web.

FY2001 Goals:

Arrange and schedule a two-day NBII metadata workshop for project team, partners and clients. Principal Investigator Clement will complete additional training to become authorized NBII metadata trainer. Populate NBII metadata clearinghouse with records for all biotic projects conducted within the South Florida Ecosystem program. Prepare and submit proposal to Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative to enable DL team to create and load NBII metadata for CESI projects, as well.

Task 3. The third component of this project relates to the "intellectual framework" needed for a successful digital library effort. This component involves the development of a controlled biological and geospatial vocabulary that serves as a consistent reference for information providers, describing information resources on the supply side, and for information seekers, locating relevant resources on the discovery side. The South Florida Ecosystem Thesaurus will cover the concepts, processes, and organisms of South Florida, as reflected in the literature (e.g., Davis, 1994; Lodge, 1994). The thesaurus will be created in conformance with the guidelines set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI, xxxx). The South Florida Ecosystem Gazetteer will be created in conformance the ADL Gazetteer Content Standard (Hill, 2000). Both tools will be developed as stand-alone tools initially, but may be later integrated into the search capabilities of the digital library and other SOFIA information services to optimize users' retrieval.
Project months: 13-30
FY2000 Accomplishments:

Successfully submitted request for funding South Florida Ecosystem Thesaurus through the Department of Interior's Critical Ecosystems Studies Initiative. Presented Gazetteer concept paper and workplan at the Georeferencing Florida conference (Florida Biotic Information Consortium, St. Petersburg, Florida, August 2000). Consulted with David Stage, Florida Geographic Board, on proper procedures for adding new Florida place names (not already in the national Geogranic Names Information System).

FY2001 Goals:

Develop initial draft of the South Florida Ecosystem Gazetteer, a tool linking place names, (indirect references to a geographic location) to geographic footprints (expressed by coordinates such as latitude and longitude). Gazetteer database will include: Feature name and variant names; Feature type; Spatial reference (coordinates, bounding box, etc.); Brief Description Source (where feature name was found). The scope of the South Florida Ecosystem gazetteer will include established geographic features already cataloged by the US Board on Geographic Names (found in the Geographic Names Information System, or GNIS), as well as more localized or vernacular place names in use across the south Florida research and restoration community.

Task 4. Link database developed under Task 1 to NBII Clearinghouse Network and through this, to the other electronic biological information available in Florida, across the nation, and around the world.
Project months: 24-30
FY2000 Accomplishments: not applicable
FY2001 Goals:

Complete necessary steps to connect south Florida NBII metadata server to the national/international NBII Clearinghouse network.

Task 5. Design and develop mechanism for linking digital library system with SOFIA database.
Project months: 1-30
FY2000 Accomplishments:

Participated in project planning meetings with SOFIA project chief and other team members. Provided electronic copy of database for inclusion in the GEER proceedings and on SOFIA web site.

FY2001 Goals:

Continue participation on SOFIA team to ensure interoperability between bio/geo-digital library and other SOFIA information services. A design document and implementation plan for linking the biological digital library and SOFIA will be finalized in FY2001.


  • Project Factsheet
  • Project information added to SOFIA web site, including project information, documentation, and links to all project tools and resources.
  • A draft user interface including mocked-up search screens.
  • The first edition of the South Florida Ecosystem Gazetteer and the South Florida Ecosystem Thesaurus freely available on the Web and on CD.
  • A "demonstration" digital library collection of items selected for their genres and formats to illustrate the differing production requirements for texts, images, data, maps, etc.
  • Metadata records, created in accordance with the NBII profile of the FGDC format, for all biotic projects funded trhought he PBS South Florida Ecossytem program
  • Administrative metadata for each digital item to facilitate management functions, e.g., tracking and versioning.
  • A design document and implementation plan for integrating the biological digital library and associated tools with the SOFIA system.


The FY2001 Outreach effort will center on generating an awareness of the digital library project and its capabilities, inviting comment and evaluation from biological information providers and users, and disseminating project tools to other agencies interested developing their own interoperable systems. We will prepare a USGS Fact sheet about the project, and will present a poster session at the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Science Conference (December 2000); the annual meeting of the Florida Biotic Information Consortium (TBA) and the annual USGS Libraries Consortium conference (TBA).

We will also solicit comments and evaluation on project design and tools from targeted expert groups of scientists, information scientists, and resource managers, such as the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Taskforce’s Science Coordination Team and Information Management Committee; the BRD Information Management Council; the Environmental Resource and Management Division of the Special Libraries Association.


Davis, Steven M. and Ogden, John C., editors, 1994. Everglades: the ecosystem and its restoration. (Delray Beach, FL: St. Lucie Press), 826 p.

Hill, L. L., Frew, J., & Zheng, Q. (1999). Geographic names: The implementation of a gazetteer in a georeferenced digital library. D-Lib (January 1999). http://www.dlib.org/dlib/january99/hill/01hill.html

Lodge, Thomas E., 1994. The Everglades handbook: understanding the ecosystem, (Delray Beach, FL: St. Lucie Press), 228 p.

National Information Standards Organization, Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri, (National Information Standards, Ansi/Niso Z39.19-1993) Bethesda, Md. : NISO Press, c1994. 69 p


- DOI CESI (National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service)
- Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University
- Center for Biological Informatics, BRD-USGS
- National Information Infrastructure Office, BRD-USGS

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