USGS co-chairs biodiversity conference

U.S. Geological Survey

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U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials will lead an effort to share biology research data throughout the western hemisphere.

The USGS will co-chair the largest biodiversity information conference in history this week when participants from 34 countries meet in Cancun, Mexico for a meeting of the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Networks (IABIN) and the Clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM) of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

USGS will lead the joint force as it tries to develop a biological informatics capacity within the participating countries to share data.

Challenges include accommodating the wide number of different sources that collect biological information throughout the hemisphere, digitizing large amounts of data currently stored only in paper form and letting scientific researchers know about the planned data integration.

Other groups taking part include the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, NatureServe's Conservation Data Centers, foreign national geographic officers, and state and local government agencies. Gladys Cotter, USGS associate chief biologist for information and chair of the IABIN council, will preside over the meeting.

The USGS operates the National Biological Information Infrastructure, a Web-based system that provides access to biodiversity and ecosystem information. The system will be part of the international integration.

"We are pleased to participate in these undertakings that have a vital role in the conservation of biological diversity," said USGS Director Charles Groat.

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