California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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Department of Fish & Wildlife
Biogeographic Data Branch

Physical Address:
1700 9th Street, 4th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95811

Mailing Address:
1416 9th Street, Suite 1266
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 322-2493 • Email BDB

Biogeographic Data Branch — About Us


Steve Schoenig, Branch Chief

Mission Statement

To support the Department's goals by partnering with and assisting Regions and Divisions in the collection, development, management, and analysis of biogeographic data for effective conservation decision making.


Data Development Programs

California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) - Patrick McIntyre, Sr. Environmental Scientist (Supervisor)

  • Collect, research, and map all documented information for location and condition of rare species with detailed, descriptive information about the habitats, threats and sources of information for each mapped location.
  • Develop and maintain, in coordination with a number of cooperating groups, lists of rare plants and animals and maintain status ranks for rare species.
  • Provide 700+ active CNDDB subscribers (280 CDFW, 120 Govt/NGO, 300 commercial) users with access to the CNDDB data products.
  • Provide expertise to CDFW staff and partner organizations on the biology and ecology of rare taxa, and on the proper use of the CNDDB.

Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP)

  • Maintain and continue development on data-driven vegetation classification and mapping techniques based on the National Vegetation Classification System and the Manual of California Vegetation.
  • Produce fine scale, attribute rich, digital vegetation map products on the Department's highest priority landscapes as funding becomes available.
  • Consult on and provide training to external partners wishing to use the VegCAMP methodology and standards.
  • Participate in the interagency state Vegetation MOU group to promote data development and classification standards for California.

Biogeographic Information and Observation System (BIOS)

  • Keystone of data management strategy for managing biogeographic information that exists in CDFW and other organizations, cataloging, storing and facilitating the sharing of that information. BIOS is being populated with data from CDFW and by collaborative arrangements with external organizations.
  • BIOS can be used as a free, easy to use GIS for those who don't need expensive, high end software installed on their computers.
  • BIOS also serves a web-based GIS platform used as a building block for other web pages such as CalFish and the Salton Sea Restoration Project.

California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System (CWHR)

  • An information system and model for 712 of California's most regularly-occurring amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
  • System components include life history accounts, geographic range data by season, and habitat suitability ratings for reproduction, cover and feeding for each of the 712 species; a habitat classification system to support the habitat suitability models (containing 59 habitats with structural stages and special habitat elements); and crosswalks between this habitat classification scheme and all of California's major vegetation mapping efforts.
  • A software application contains all system components. Geographic range of each species and habitat type is also available as a vector-based GIS data set.
  • Data updates on each of the components are driven by conservation priorities of CDFW, its regional offices and its partner agencies. Recent projects include updating geographic range data to support mapping efforts for Species of Special Concern reports and the California Wildlife Action Plan.
  • Research and development has also focused on prototypical spatially explicit wildlife models that make use of fine-scale vegetation and habitat data and the responses of individual wildlife species to the landscape.

Forest Raptor Data Development

  • Manage the on-going data management activities for the forest species (spotted owl, great gray owl and barred owl) database systems as required by MOU between CDFW, USFS, CDF and USFWS.


GIS Program

Steve Goldman, Research Manager II (GIS)

The GIS Program provides a full spectrum of services associated with biogeographic data collection and processing, spatial analysis and production of cartographic products to support CDFW's mission. These activities include:

Branch GIS Support

  • Supports the Department's goals by providing GIS staff and assisting Branch staff in the collection, management and analysis of biogeographic data for effective decision making.
  • Staffing levels, work priorities and assignments are coordinated between the BDB GIS Manager and the designated branch points of contact to insure that workloads are balanced and that Department priorities are met.
  • Example Branch GIS Support activities include:
    • Spatial data development and documentation
    • Spatial analysis
    • Map design and production
    • Database design as it pertains to data collection
    • GIS/GPS project support and consultation

GIS Service Center

  • Provide additional GIS/GPS services for CDFW Regions and Branches without dedicated GIS support or when exceptionally heavy workloads arise.
  • Maintain and distribute the CDFW GIS data and imagery library via media, download and Regional Novell server synchronization. Layers include: spatial framework data, satellite Imagery, scanned USGS Topographic maps and licensed commercial data products.
  • Develop and support field data collection tools (handheld PDAs) based on Department sanctioned protocols and field methods. (Note: this service is currently unavailable due to staff shortage.)
  • Coordinate Department biogeographic data inventory, documentation, cataloging and distribution via BIOS and the Metadata Explorer.
  • Provide GIS expertise, consultation and mentoring services to Department staff and partner organizations.
  • Provide customized training in use of the suite of GIS software products, field mapping/navigation with GPS, as well as CDFW custom tools.
  • Provide cost effective GIS/GPS equipment lending to CDFW staff for equipment such as GPS receivers, large format scanners, large format plotters and photo/GPS equipment for aerial imagery collection.
  • Coordinate cost effective GIS software licensing for Department Branches and Regions. Provide ArcGIS (16 licenses) and Remote Sensing license use (5 licenses) to be shared by CDFW non-GIS staff.
  • Create and maintain custom GIS systems for input, editing, display, query and analysis of biogeographic data used by the Department and its partners. These systems integrate GIS, relational database management, and web technology to create statewide, integrated information management tools. Systems currently in production include:
    • Biogeographic Information and Observation System (BIOS)
    • CalFish
    • Fishing Guide
    • Lands Inventory
    • Hunting Guide
    • California Vegetation Information system (CVIS)
    • CNDDB Quick Viewer

Regional GIS Coordination

  • Insure consistent and efficient biogeographic data management throughout the Regions by working with staff to establish standards and policies for these activities. This includes standardizing base data layers, database designs, coding and abbreviation tables, software tools, analytical methods and cartographic products.
  • Advise Regional management staff on appropriate use of GIS position classifications, development of duty statements and the hiring process.