Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases

0309137349…new book from the National Research Council…

“H1N1 (“swine flu”), SARS, mad cow disease, and HIV/AIDS are a few examples of zoonotic diseases–diseases transmitted between humans and animals. Emerging zoonoses are a growing concern given multiple factors, including an increase in zoonotic disease outbreaks, their often novel and unpredictable nature, their ability to emerge anywhere and spread rapidly around the globe, and the major economic toll they can take on many disparate industries.

“Infectious disease surveillance systems are intended to combat this threat. By systematically collecting data on the occurrence of infectious diseases in humans and animals, investigators can track the spread of disease and provide an early warning to human and animal health officials nationally and internationally for follow-up and response. Unfortunately, and for many reasons, current disease surveillance systems can be ineffective or untimely in alerting officials to newly emerging zoonotic diseases.

“Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases assesses disease surveillance systems around the world, and recommends ways to improve early detection and response. The book presents solutions for coordination between different surveillance systems, different governments, and different international organizations.

“Parties seeking to improve the detection and response to zoonotic diseases–including U.S. government and international health policymakers, researchers, epidemiologists, and veterinarians–will use this book to help curtail the threat zoonotic diseases pose to economies, societies, and global health.”

European Space Agency’s GOCE Satellite Maps Earth’s Gravity Field in Unprecedented Detail

gradient_picture_medium,0“Following the launch and in-orbit testing of the most sophisticated gravity mission ever built, ESA’s GOCE satellite is now in ‘measurement mode’, mapping tiny variations in Earth’s gravity in unprecedented detail.

“The ‘Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer’ (GOCE) satellite was launched on 17 March from northern Russia. The data now being received will lead to a better understanding of Earth’s gravity, which is important for understanding how our planet works.”

Map of the Day: U.S. Centers of Economic Activity

…from the ESRI Map Book, Volume 24


“This map shows the distribution of economic activity across the continental United States using gross domestic product (GDP) produced per day as a measure. The scale of the economic activity is represented by the height and color from a 3D surface model. GDP is measured by using the employee data from Dun & Bradstreet and combining it with GDP by industry data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

“Los Alamos National Laboratory uses this map to respond quickly to requests from federal and state agencies for economic impact analyses related to hazardous events. This map provides a unique perspective on economic activity that moves beyond tabular representations of economic data. This representation is intended to generate discussion and change perceptions about where economic activity is generated and the possible factors that explain geographic differences in economic activity.

“Courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

GIS Aids Prairie Restoration in Mississippi


Michael Tobit Gray, Timothy Schauwecker , Kate Grala.

Presented at the 36th Natural Areas Conference, “Living on the Edge: Why Natural Areas Matter”, Vancouver, Washington, USA, September 15-18, 2009.

An exhaustive search of General Land Office records was conducted with a goal of identifying the historic locations of prairies in the Jackson Prairie Belt region of Mississippi. These records include surveys of township and section lines made by government surveyors following tribal land cessions in the early 19th century. Over 300 locations of entry and exit points of Jackson Belt prairie patches were found and transcribed. The points were converted to x and y coordinates in ArcMap, and a tool was created which automated this process, which resulted in the generation of a series of vector lines representing areas in which the surveyor was crossing prairie. This map was compared to one created and published by John Barone by digitizing plat maps from the same era. Patches not included in the plat maps are evident. While Barone‘s shapefiles contain more information about the patch sizes and margins, the lines generated from the transcriptions of survey notes result in more precisely georeferenced locations. Additional datasets, including National Forest Boundaries, distance to primary roads, transmission lines, current land use and 16th section land, were added to the GIS and analyzed as variables affecting suitability for restoration. These variables were weighted according to input from stakeholders, including the Nature Conservancy of Mississippi and their partner groups. The weighted raster files were inserted into a map algebra equation in ArcMap resulting in a suitability map. Locations deemed most suitable were confirmed as such through aerial photography and site visits.

Proposed Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act includes Provision for National Wildlife Habitat and Corridors Information Program


(a) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:

(1) GEOSPATIAL INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK.—The term ‘‘Geospatial Interoperability Framework’’ means the strategy used by the National Biological Information Infrastructure (based on accepted standards, specifications, and protocols adopted through the International Standards Organization, the Open Geospatial Consortium, and the Federal Geographic Data Committee) to manage, archive, integrate, analyze, and make geospatial and  biological data and metadata accessible.

(2) PROGRAM.—The term ‘‘Program’’ means the National Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Corridors Information Program established under subsection (b).

(3) SECRETARY.—The term ‘‘Secretary’’ means the Secretary of the Interior.

(4) SYSTEM.—The term ‘‘System’’ means the Habitat and Corridors Information System established under subsection (d)(1).

(b) ESTABLISHMENT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in cooperation with the States and Indian tribes, shall establish a National Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Corridors Information Program.

(c) PURPOSE.—The purposes of the Program are—

(1) to support States and Indian tribes in developing geographical information system databases of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors that—

(A) inform planning and development decisions within each State;

(B) enable each State to model climate impacts and adaptation; and

(C) provide geographically specific enhancements of State wildlife action plans;

(2) to ensure the collaborative development of a comprehensive national geographic information system database of maps, models, data, surveys, informational products, and other geospatial information regarding fish and wildlife habitat and corridors that—

(A) is based on consistent protocols for sampling and mapping across landscapes;

(B) takes into account regional differences; and

(C) uses—

(i) existing and planned State- and tribal-based geographical information system databases; and

(ii) existing databases, analytical tools, metadata activities, and other information products available through the National Biological Information Infrastructure maintained by the Secretary and nongovernmental organizations; and

(iii) to facilitate the use of those databases by Federal, State, local, and tribal decision makers to incorporate qualitative information on fish and wildlife habitats and corridors at the earliest practicable stage for use in—

(A) prioritizing and targeting natural resources adaptation strategies and activities;

(B) avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating the impacts on fish and wildlife habitat and corridors when locating energy development, water, transmission, transportation, and other land use projects;

(C) assessing the impacts of existing development on habitats and corridors; and

(D) developing management strategies that enhance the ability of fish, wildlife, and plant species to migrate or respond to shifting habitats within existing habitats and corridors.


(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary, in cooperation with States and Indian tribes, shall establish a Habitat and Corridors Information System.

(2) CONTENTS.—The System shall—

(A) include maps, data, and descriptions of fish and wildlife habitat and corridors that—

(i) have been developed by Federal agencies, State wildlife agencies, and natural heritage programs, Indian tribes, local governments, nongovernmental organizations, and industry; and

(ii) meet accepted geospatial interoperability framework data and metadata protocols and standards;

(B) include maps and descriptions of projected shifts in habitats and corridors of fish and wildlife species in response to climate change;

(C) ensure data quality;

(D) at scales useful to decision makers, make data, models, and analyses included in the System available—

(i) to prioritize and target natural resources adaptation strategies and activities;

(ii) to assess the impacts of existing development on habitats and corridors;

(iii) to assess the impacts of proposed energy development, water, transmission, transportation, and other land use projects and to avoid, minimize, or mitigate those impacts on habitats and corridors; and

(iv) to develop management strategies that enhance the ability of fish, wildlife, and plant species to migrate or respond to shifting habitats within existing habitats and corridors;

(E) update maps and other information as landscapes, habitats, corridors, and wildlife populations change, or as new information becomes available;

(F) encourage development of collaborative plans by Federal and State agencies and Indian tribes that monitor and evaluate the ability of the System to meet the needs of decision makers;

(G) identify gaps in habitat and corridor information, mapping, and research needed to fully assess current data and metadata;

(H) prioritize research and future data collection activities for use in updating the System and provide support for those activities;

(I) include mechanisms to support collaborative research, mapping, and planning of habitats and corridors by Federal and State agencies, Indian tribes, and other interested stakeholders;

(J) incorporate biological and geospatial data on species and corridors found in energy development and transmission plans, including renewable energy initiatives, transportation, and other land use plans;

(K) identify, prioritize, and describe key parcels of non-Federal land that—

(i) are located within units of the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Forest System, or National Grassland System; and

(ii) are critical to maintenance of wildlife habitat and migration corridors; and

(L) be based on the best scientific information available.

(e) FINANCIAL AND OTHER SUPPORT.—The Secretary may provide support to the States and Indian tribes, including financial and technical assistance, for activities that support the development and implementation of the System.

(f) COORDINATION.—In cooperation with States and Indian tribes, the Secretary shall recommend how the information in the System may be incorporated into relevant State and Federal plans that affect fish and wildlife, including—

(1) land management plans;

(2) the State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies; and

(3) appropriate tribal conservation plans.

(g) PURPOSE OF INCORPORATION.—The Secretary shall make the recommendations required by subsection (f) to ensure that relevant State and Federal plans that affect fish and wildlife—

(1) prevent unnecessary habitat fragmentation and disruption of corridors;

(2) promote the landscape connectivity necessary to allow wildlife to move as necessary to meet biological needs, adjust to shifts in habitat, and adapt to climate change; and

(3) minimize the impacts of energy, development, water, transportation, and transmission projects and other activities expected to impact habitat and corridors.

Mapping Bird Habitat with Lasers in Central California


“Lasers are providing scientists with new tools for mapping, protecting, and restoring bird habitat along rivers. In a paper published in the October issue of Ecological Applications, scientists from PRBO Conservation Science and the Information Center for the Environment at UC Davis used aerial laser technology known as LiDAR (short for Light Detection And Ranging) to predict where different bird species occur in the Cosumnes River Preserve in central California, USA.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Could Update Manatee Habitat Map

…from the Miami Herlad

“It has been more than 30 years since federal wildlife managers formally mapped the places where endangered manatees live in Florida. On Tuesday, they acknowledged it’s probably time for an update.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would consider reassessing critical habitat for the manatee, a process that could fill some gaping holes.”

Air Pollutants From Abroad a Growing Concern: New National Research Council Report

global_air…from the National Research Council…

Harmful air pollutants can travel across oceans and continents and have negative impacts on air quality and ecosystems far from their original sources, says a new report by the National Research Council. Although degraded air quality is usually dominated by local emissions, the influence of nondomestic pollution sources may grow as emissions from developing countries increase and environmental protection standards tighten in industrialized countries.”