Proposal to NBII, July, 2007

Database support for community research teams to study
the impact of invasive species and other environmental changes
in U.S. National Parks

Cooperative Agreement
The Polistes Foundation

John Pickering
University of Georgia, Athens

23 July, 2007

Paranthidium jugatorium
Photograph by John Ascher
Paranthidium jugatorium (Say, 1824)


Understanding and managing the impact of invasive species, weather, fire, pollution, and other environmental changes on biological systems is a mammoth task. It is impossible to conduct randomized, replicated experiments to study the impact of invasions, droughts, heat waves, and other massive perturbations on the abundance and distribution of populations between and within ecological communities. Fortunately, because of recent advances in technology and statistics, it is now feasible to collect and integrate information from a large number of study sites, tease out the response of populations to natural events, and gain understanding into their environmental requirements and interactions.

In 2008, the National Park Service, the Polistes Foundation, and their partners propose to start a large-scale, long-term scientific study of U.S. National Parks and other areas in North America (please see They propose to field 25 teams of scientists, students, and volunteers to study the impact of environmental factors on a diverse array of species. These include ants, bees, butterflies, caterpillars and their natural enemies, diseases of trees, dragonflies, dung beetles, ferns, goldenrods, ladybugs, lichens, liverworts, milkweeds, mushrooms, orchids, salamanders, slime molds, snails, vines, wildflowers and a few yet-to-be-determined groups.

The teams will use on-line databases and a set of standard research protocols to gather and share information from a potential vast array of study sites. Here we seek support from NBII to set up the databases that 25 research teams will need when they start field work next spring.


The Discover Life has the database technology needed for the teams to collect and share information via the web. This technology allows users to build and use identification guides, submit observations and images, manage data records, and map results. In June, 2007, the website's network of 20 computers served over 8 million pages and images from over 500 integrated databases.


  1. Databases: We will set up on-line databases for each team to manage their (1) local species checklists, (2) national and geo-referenced local identification guides, (3) images, (4) observation and specimen records, and (5) participant contact information.
  2. Technical training & support: We will provide technical training and support so that all team members can use the above databases to collect and share information.
  3. GISIN meeting: We will provide logistic support in purchasing tickets and reimbursing participants' travel expenses to the planned 12-16 November, 2007, GISIN meeting.

Budget requested from NBII:

    $8,500Technical training & support ($7.00 - $20.00/hour)
    $10,500PI Salary (13% time)
    $13,300Travel for GISIN participants
    $1,7005% indirect costs for The Polistes Foundation to manage the grant

Anticipated completion date:

April, 2008, or 9 months from completion of paper work between USGS-NBII and The Polistes Foundation.

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